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POLICY: Walmart and Ignagni show why we’re so screwed

So for the final post on the theme of the uninsured and how messed up our health system is, I turn to the pages of the New York Times which shows that the taxpayer (or as Don Johnson calls us — the "market customer"!) is trying to get WalMart to not dump the cost of its employees’ benefits onto the public.  Maryland just passed a bill aimed at Walmart and supported by Giant stores, a local grocery chain which does cover its workers’ health care costs, insisting on better benefits coverage from Walmart and employers like it. In California a not-dissimilar ballot initiative just failed last time and will come again this fall probably. While I’m not in favor of an employer mandate (or for that matter employers being involved in health insurance at all) it’s clear that Walmart benefits from being stingy to its employees while its competitors such as Safeway and Costco which pay better wages and give better health benefits make less money.

And as everyone joins in a race to the bottom, the number of jobs that have health insurance attached dwindles, and the number of those uninsured or falling on to the taxpayer’s plate increases. For those without insurance and not poor enough for Medicaid, the individual market beckons like a Siren attracting a ship onto the rocks. The individual market sucks, and for many  examples of how, see the comments to this recent post.

Part of the reason the individual market is such a mess is the the aggressive underwriting behaviors of the plans reprensented by Karen Ignagni at AHIP.  She has a letter in the NY Times today attacking Krugman’s column in which he opposed private health care.  It’s an incredible piece.  She manages to make more straight factual errors in three paragraphs than I would have thought possible. It’s so bad that that I actually wrote a letter pointing them out to the Times. If they don’t publish it I’ll do a longer version here next week. But her overall point is that what’s important is to debate some more…..anything than to solve the problem.

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Ron Greiner
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gadfly,
I hate the “children” card too. I won’t say that again.

gadfly
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gadfly

//You gadfly are taking money that could go to schools but you won’t get insurance because the American tax payer owes you something, you think.// I have no income. While the American tax payer goes running around screeching “don’t think society owes you anything”, I still don’t have an income. No income, no payout for insurance. It’s that simple. //Heck, $400,000 for your cancer gadfly could feed a lot of hungry children, at least think of them.// I agree. Though, I hate it when people play the “children” card. When I go hungry, no one gives a damn. //Matthew is… Read more »

Ron Greiner
Guest

gadfly, You are the one who is uninsured and will dump your future cancer bills of $400,000 onto the backs of tax payers, not me. You gadfly are taking money that could go to schools but you won’t get insurance because the American tax payer owes you something, you think. Heck, $400,000 for your cancer gadfly could feed a lot of hungry children, at least think of them. It drives me crazy when people with $500,000 houses are so cheap they won’t put health insurance on their children. Some uninsured are really strapped like gadfly, because she has no job… Read more »

gadfly
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gadfly

//Are you saying these bills were not paid 100% after the deductible?// Nope – I’m saying you are using anecdotal evidence to support your argument, and hence it’s not persuasive. //This sounds like Matthew!!!!!!!!// Matthew is my hero. He does his research and furnishes rational, factually based arguments. He’s earnest and fair. Plus he has heart and a concern for the fate of individual human beings. If I were younger and better looking, I’d flirt with him and offer to have his baby. 🙂 //My future prospects// I think you’re using Matt’s blog for free advertising. //own to only $150… Read more »

Ron Greiner
Guest

gadfly, //1. What will happen when these people get sick? You get what you pay for.// I told you; 1) I have a client will bone cancer right now. 2) I had a client with ovarian cancer take 4 years to die. 3) I had a client with a heart attack who quit smoking 4) I didn’t say about a 17 year old in the brain trauma center 3 months last year. Are you saying these bills were not paid 100% after the deductible? // 2. What good does saving money on health insurance do when you have to pay… Read more »

gadfly
Guest
gadfly

//people paying $1,000 a month when I switch them to paying $150 a month//
The two questions are:
1. What will happen when these people get sick? You get what you pay for.
2. What good does saving money on health insurance do when you have to pay out money to deal with all the people who are uninsured because people fell for the short-sighted, self-centered solution?
3. The person only paying out $150 will thank you. The 100 uninsured people you shoved out of the way will come to haunt you.

Ron Greiner
Guest

Sue, President Bush just got an HSA with the Federal Government’s program and there was no medical underwriting. I have said that there is no medical underwriting on an HSA application. It’s you two that keep saying there is medical underwriting for an HSA and then say it’s so terrible. Is that specific enough for you Sue? And yes, sick people would love to pay their deductibles with tax free dollars from an HSA too. It’s only common sense so don’t listen to Paul Krugman, he doesn’t have a clue. Paul is correct when he says group health employee plans… Read more »

Sue
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Sue

Ron doesn’t want a debate. Any time specifics are mentioned he changes the subject. Read three of his posts in a row and the contradictions are amazing–like the switch on whether or not underwriting is involved in HSA insurance.

gadfly
Guest
gadfly

//Sue, excuse me but I would not take your advice on health insurance. You knowledge base is small but you are stuffed full of opinions.//
In what universe? Sue seems to be doing an impressive job at pulling out the facts, as opposed to to dealing out old quotes for pure sensation value.
*I hope Jeb runs in ’08.*
Good Lord, I hope not. *makes sign of cross*

Ron Greiner
Guest

Sue, I was enrolling tax free MSAs (Now HSA) since the first day, 1/1/97. This is way before President Bush ran for President. I went to the first Presidential debate for W. in Ames, IA, my home town. Forbes had HSAs on the cover of his book but he came in behind George W. in the voting, along with 9 other suckers running. President Bush had only 10 minutes, like all the rest and he started with; I believe in more options, more choices, more freedom in Medicare, including HSAs.” That was music to my ears Sue. My wife calls… Read more »

Sue
Guest
Sue

Rush would never tout HSAs because he realizes that with his much publicized use of painkillers that he is uninsurable in the individual health insurance market and won’t be able to get qualifying insurance. There are a lot of conservatives who become liberals on healthcare reform when underwriting practices are discussed. If President Bush had a clue about what HSAs do to guys his age with rated conditions he wouldn’t be touting them either, but I’ll bet Karl Rove doesn’t let him watch television or read the papers. He has become the most out of touch president I can remember… Read more »

Ron Greiner
Guest

Gadfly,
I advertise on Rush but he refuses to discuss Republican health care reform and the tax free HSA.
President Bush says tax free HSA in every speech including the State of the Union. Then Hannity, Rush and O’Rielly refuse to discuss it, darn liberals pretending to be conservatives.
I know Rush’s HSA quotes and they are pathetic.
President Bush says, “Become empowered with a tax free HSA.” Rush would never say that.

Ron Greiner
Guest

Sue, I do not use Golden Rule because they don’t have a dependent conversion priviledge for children. I did say their rates are online. Golden Rule and my company had most of the market share on MSAs (name before HSA) and my company wrote the first one. My agency enrolled three out of the first five tax free accounts in America. The insurance industry was against HSAs Sue, so you are a bit confused. The first month, January of 1997, I enrolled a client and he saved $7,000 a year in premiums. Then he had a heart attack and he… Read more »

gadfly
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gadfly

//Speaker Hastert says, “I figured out the difference between the two political parties talking to Hillary about HSAs. Hillary said, “No, No, NO, HSAs put to much money in the private sector.”//
Ron, you keep repeating the Hillary quote as if it were an argument. Just now I realized it isn’t even a Hillary quote – it’s a Hastert quote, i.e. hearsay probably further warped for the sake political positioning. Is this a technique you learned from Rush?

Sue
Guest
Sue

Ron, I went to three sites offering HSAs including one of your recommendations: Golden Rule. ALL have significant verbiage outlining underwriting procedures and making it very clear that pre-existing conditions can be excluded from coverage. The portability I’m discussing relates to the ability of a rated consumer to leave one HSA insurer and obtain insurance from a different provider, not the ability to keep the money in your savings account. Because there is no portability protection as guaranted by HIPAA for group insurance, it is possible that a rated person might not be able get insurance from a different provider… Read more »