Monday, December 15, 2008

Knope Translates Insurance Double-Speak

Dr. Steven Knope translates the words behind the insurance industries new-found enthusiasm for mandated universal coverage:
Here is how the insurance industry stated they would make their plan work: "The group called on Congress to establish a public-private advisory group to recommend action in three areas: reducing wasteful spending, changing how doctors and hospitals are paid, and reducing administrative costs."

Let me translate this insurance double speak for you.

"Reducing wasteful spending" translates into rationing medical care to patients for profit.

"Changing how doctors and hospitals are paid" translates into paying them less. Clearly, if doctors and hospitals were paid more or even paid at current rates, spending could not be reduced. This fee reduction will result in doctors seeing even more patients than they see now, spending less time with each and further rationing healthcare.

Finally, "reducing administrative costs" translates into allowing the insurance companies to become the administrators for the program. What this means is that much of the new healthcare dollar will flow through insurance company pipelines, which will be designed with leaks in strategic places.
Instead of trying to use the power of the government to force consumers to purchase insurance on their terms, they should be advocating a free market that allows patients to purchase insurance (or not) based on their own assessment of their needs. For some patients, that might involve paying routine costs out of pocket (or with a Health Savings Account), then using catastrophic-only insurance for expensive events. Other patients may wish more of a pre-paid model, with richer benefits but higher premiums. Others might wish to retain a concierge physician and pay directly for all medical services with no insurance whatsoever.

But patients should have the freedom to choose in a free market. The insurance companies' proposed unholy alliance with the government is a direct infringement of this basic right, and will inevitably lead to an even worse "single payer" system.