How the US Health Care System Rations
Anyone who doesn't think the
Fifty-three year old Delbert Davis recently died of complications from cirrhosis of the liver that was diagnosed two years ago.
Just prior to the diagnosis,
The health care bills quickly racked up as
According to a spokesperson from a hospital that
Even when Davis and his wife took positions that were supposed to offer health insurance, they couldn’t get coverage because of his pre-existing condition. As
Davis appealed to his representative in Congress, Lamar Smith, who helped get him authorized for $1200 per month disability payment from Social Security, and it also made him eligible for Medicare…but not for two years.
And for those who think this is an isolated incident, according to Dr. Utts: “There's a disdain for universal coverage, and it's tragic. In 20 years of practice, I've probably seen hundreds of patients” die because they couldn't get on the transplant list without health insurance.This is the US health care system's version of rationing. As health policy expert Matthew Holt has explained: "So yup [rationing] happens here too, and instead of doing it by some defensible way — like looking at the cost-benefit analysis for a population — that an economist ought to commend, we do it on the basis of whether or not you can afford it."
And, as the case of Delbert Davis makes clear, it's not just the poor who can't afford it these days.
UPDATE: The LA Times has an article today on the new-found willingness of the insurance industry to move toward universal healthcare now that the Dems have made a resurgence in Congress.Unfortunately, though not surprisingly, the plan introduced by the insurance lobby does nothing to hold down health care costs, either by reducing administrative overhead or pooling payers in the system to achieve better negotiation discounts. And why would it? After all, all of that administrative overhead is currently going into the pockets of the insurance industry along with the benefits of having a variety of payers in the system.
Another interesting note from the LA Times article, while the Dems are aiming at health care reform on the national level, they plan to do so cautiously. An insider source says they'll operate around the edges over the next two years but really not take reform head on until after 2008...assuming, I imagine, that election goes in their favor as did last Tuesday's.
That doesn't mean, however, Wisconsin (or even just Milwaukee County) needs to wait with them.
LATE UPDATE: Matthew Holt's take on the insurance industry's plan. Color him skeptical.