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HOSPITALS/POLICY/INDUSTRY: Katrina and the response

We have all been shaken by the devastation in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. After a couple of days to reflect, three thoughts come to my mind. First has been the absolute heroism of health care workers in New Orleans, and those helping from neighboring areas. The tales of nurses, doctors and other workers keeping patients alive by hand-pumping ventilators, and performing near-miracles in conditions that none of them could have believed they’d ever have to work in reminds us that medicine and health care is a calling far more than just a job. Second, the time for investigations and blame if any will come later, but it’s beyond belief that it’s taken this long to get either food, water and medicine into New Orleans, or those stranded people out. Finally, it can’t have escaped anyone’s attention that the vast majority of those "left behind" are poor and African-American. And that’s a microcosm of what’s going on in our society and in our health care system. Hopefully this disaster may give us a chance to reflect on that and to make some changes.

I linked to the Red Cross earlier this week, but Instapundit has a long list of other charities who need help.

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20 replies »

  1. After this round of comments I am seriously doubting Ron’s connection to reality. Still it’s better than the women I met at a dinner party last night who seriously told us all that it was the fault of the people in the New Orleans convention center for not bringing enough supplies for themselves.
    Thread’s done, and frankly I hope Ron starts his own blog or lays off here for a while.

  2. Elisa, it’s Time for a change.
    It’s official in my book now. I just got my new insurance card and the name is back to Time. In the beginning of the MSA it was Time. The first MSA ad slick said, “It’s Time for your MSA.” The first MSA was Time. So tell ehealthinsurance that because they have to go in and change all of their logos on their online quoting software that we will let them start saying, “Time-Tested and Save101.com Certified” for a small charge, nothing really. We would want a small charge on every Time insured too, not much there either. We certainly would not accept anything on all those other rookie local yokel companies. It might just be a bad rumor but I think that in CA the state requires some AIDs testing, which is just more paperwork. So Matthew should get half of our small slice of commission in CA.
    This is something that ehealthinsurance should jump on because of the new company direct marketing that I’m sure they know all about. Company Direct Marketing (notice how I won’t even say the name) will create a more informed consumer and they don’t need Full and Proper Disclosure between a ton of different companies, unlike ehealthinsurance. The really good thing is we know the product so well that our staff is properly trained with experience to provide a quicker understanding of all the choices and benefits, even better than the company clerks. We will give ehealthinsurance a manual that if they say go that they can make copies. My wife, my boss, would probably just email it. They can use their own paper.
    How about – 2006 Open Enrollment in a TIME of Transition – ehealthinsurance, Time Tested and Save101.com Certified – ?
    Matthew, these CA homes cost $750,000 without an ocean view. These people can afford the best, which is us. Many times the best is cheaper, as if that matters. If we play our cards right ehealthinsurance staff will being using “ease” and Time will do all the work and we could make a dime or two, it’s about time. Otherwise our enrolling staff will have to do all the work because my wife won’t let us use the “ease” enrollment system from Time. She says it will effect our stats in a negative way. Basically, she loses some control in the under writing process and she is a control freak. I can’t see her complaining if ehealthinsurance uses it though.
    It could be Company Direct VS ehealthinsurance VS Save101.com — It would be nice to get paid on enrollments on 2 out of the 3 of them. I can’t see a way to slip in and get a slice of Company Direct yet.
    I will have to get with Matthew on how much the initial small annual fee would be. Knowledge is Power.
    I hope Governor Jeb Bush, who holds the security of the children and citizens of Florida in his hands, warns everybody about what a hurricane like Katrina will do to sick Floridians on dangerous group health plans. Losing insurance when women are about to have babies is really tough and there is no need for it. Education is the key. Maybe the President will warn everybody for the 2006 hurricane season. I hope Jeb warns Floridians yet this season. We are not out of the woods yet on hurricanes in 2005. One could still hit Florida and open enrollment is coming up soon on group health employee plans. No Time like now I say, before anybody else has their health insurance terminated by a hurricane. I’m hearing over 500,000 people lost their jobs because of Katrina.

  3. // ehealthinsurance is producing free advertising from coast to coast by using the nation’s ill-informed press.//
    Pot meet kettle. 😉

  4. Elisa,
    I’m not being flip either. Why would ehealthinsurance leave themselves open to questions. If I were them I would get out of the blogging business as fast as I could. Let’s face it, ehealthinsurance is producing free advertising from coast to coast by using the nation’s ill-informed press.
    Even Dr. Novack here is saying that we all know that HSA qualifying coverage has went down 15% in the last year, come on. It get’s great headlines but we didn’t go down 15% on our HSA coverage.
    I don’t have time for a blog right now. Very soon I won’t even comment here, that will make Matthew very happy I’m sure.
    Keep up your good work on health care blogging even if ehealthinsurance wises up and cuts your funding. You don’t need them anyway. I predict that someday a blog will raise the question: //With a group health employee plan when employees get too sick too work the poor sick employee is put to COBRA for insurance termination.//
    Currently, you can google yourself to death and not find any articles on this in the nation’s press. Talk about propaganda and a controlled media. Propaganda is much worse in modern America than it was in NAZI Germany, that’s for sure.

  5. Jib,
    I don’t have time to comment on other blogs but I did today at that blog that’s powered by ehealthinsurance with the blogger named Elisa. Sometimes the truth will blow a blog away exactly like Katrina. Maybe you should help Elisa answer these questions that I asked today. I posted:
    Elisa,
    I’m curious why ehealthinsurance would support you and your blogging when you are a Democrat. These peske Democrats tried with all their might to stop the tax free HSA and lost. Senator John Kerry called the HSA a tax dodge for the healthy and wealthy. The Bush administration countered with, “Fortis Insurance Company reports that 40% of HSAs had no previous insurance.”
    I am also curious why ehealthinsurance won’t list Fortis in the Iowa zip codes like the 50301 zip code in Des Moines, Iowa. Is this because ehealthinsurance would prefer to sell Golden Rule? I believe ehealthinsurance also produces “quotes” with Golden Rule at “preferred rates” and use “standard rates” for Fortis with the added cost of an increased lifetime benenfit of $8 million per person. Plus, Golden Rule’s cheaper HSA qualifying coverage that does not pay for doctor visits is always listed but Fortis’s HSA RightStart that does have doctor visit coverage is not.
    Golden Rule does not have a dependent conversion priviledge for children if they become sick or hurt as a minor. Informed parents would want this feature if their child becomes uninsurable like mine did as a full time college student. Because he was insured with Fortis he can keep his coverage and move to 43 states and keep his coverage, I don’t think another insurance company can make that statement. Maybe ehealthinsurance should point this out on their “quotes” for those prospects with children.
    Fortis Insurance Company was the first to market MSA qualifying coverage and my agent number is attached to that very first client. My effective date on my HSA is the very first day, 1/1/97. What is the effective date on your HSA?
    Sometimes blogging can raise more questions than answers. And like Jimmy Buffett says, “The answers are the easy part it’s the questions that raise a doubt.”
    In Lansing, MI a 30 year old couple and 2 children can get Fortis HSA coverage with a 5200 deductible for $163.49/month ($3 million lifetime max) the $10,000 deductible for $118.92, and the RightStart HSA with $2 Million Max per person and a $5,100 deductible for $95.72. This is the 48901 zip code with an 09/03/2005 effective date.
    At goldenrulehealth.com you can varify that ehealthinsurance is using “preferred rates” for Golden Rule. I have used “preferred” rates for Fortis above. Fortis is cheaper in reality but not on ehealthinsurance. Plus, ehealthinsurance won’t even quote the Fortis Rightstart HSA because it is too inexpensive for the consumer at only $95.72 for this family of 4.
    Some insurance companies are getting in trouble for bid rigging and I would hate for ehealthinsurance to be caught doing the same thing to funnel clients into certain companies just to make a quick buck or two. If you can explain any of this I have a ton more questions.
    President Bush said, “Become empowered with a tax free HSA.” Governor Jeb Bush just enabled Florida state employees to have the HSA option. Vote Republican because the Democrats fought tooth and nail to stop the HSA, but went down in defeat, thank God.
    Good luck in your blogging.
    Posted by: Ron Greiner | September 03, 2005
    Probably, like here, she won’t answer any question that are raised. Maybe she will just change the subject to UFO’s like gadfly.
    http://workerbees.typepad.com/healthyconcerns/2005/09/ok_people_heres.html#comment-9066413
    If I was ehealthinsurance I would get rid of this blogger. If the ehealthinsurance honesty is in doubt how can they get all of this free advertising (It’s millions of dollars) by the nation’s press? I would just blow off blogging and fire Elisa if I was in charge over there.

  6. I vote that UFOs determined the outcome of WWII. Maybe they will come back and bestow health care on the pure of heart, too.

  7. Abby,
    You wrote//I kind of doubt that the New Orleans hospitals are processing insurance claims right now. Period. Full stop. Insurance is the least of their worries.//
    All diagnosed people who have moved to Texas have lost their health insurance if it was from an employer that is no longer in business. You can say that all these people don’t care but I know you are wrong, again I might add.

  8. Matthew,
    You wrote//Ron–I know you are a one note tuba, but how you get to plugging your health insurance products from this editorial beggars belief.//
    Individual insurance may be kept if your business folds, unlike a dangerous group plan, which is terminated. Really Matthew, I would of thought you would know the law, go figure.
    Here is a podcast for you Matthew from NPR. Notice how the “Experts” don’t have a clue and hate HSAs but all the callers love the HSA. These goofy “Experts”, friends of yours I’m sure, don’t even know what Qualified Medical Expenses (QME) are for HSAs, it’s pathetic. The caller next to last sounds like one of my MSA clients. She heard about it on the radio and that would have to have been us in 1998. She certainly has the right insurance company.
    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4824110
    There would have been more dead Russians if the Germans’ factories were not ruined from the air.
    Also, if a small business owner with 5 employees, with a group health plan, has a heart attack and wants to sell his business and move to Florida, he can’t. When he sells the business he isn’t working 30 hours per week anymore so he loses his insurance. Read a policy Matthew, it will say: Who is eligible? Owners and partners who are regularly working 30 hours per week at the firms usual place of business performing their regular duties are eligible for coverage. You will be terminated when you are no longer eligible.
    Get a group health plan and all employees and owners will be terminated off the health insurance if Katrina blows your business away, by state law. Check it out Matthew, or you can just trust me.

  9. Ron,
    I kind of doubt that the New Orleans hospitals are processing insurance claims right now. Period. Full stop. Insurance is the least of their worries.

  10. Abby,
    You wrote//Not everything is about HSA’s or individual health insurance. When your entire infrastructure breaks down, it doesn’t much matter whether you have group health insurance or an individual policy.//
    You are wrong. By law, small employers can not pay a penny of the premium for individual health insurance. Employees must have a group health plan. If the employer is out of business because of Katrina the group health plan is terminated, period, with no COBRA extensions. IN CONTRAST – individual health insurance is not terminated by Katrina, so you are wrong.
    Imagine all the people who are diagnosed who just lost their health insurance because of Katrina. This is the perfect example to explain the difference.
    I thought you understood that Abby. Maybe Matthew will discuss this topic, but I doubt it.
    I make all employees sign a statement that the employer is not paying any of the premium and makes the HSA deposit instead. That way everyone wins and the employees have the security of having insurance that is not associated with their job.

  11. Ron–I know you are a one note tuba, but how you get to plugging your health insurance products from this editorial beggars belief. Meanwhile, if you study your history you’ll understand that it wasn’t just the US that won WW2. 25 million dead Russians had something to do with it too.

  12. Ron,
    Not everything is about HSA’s or individual health insurance. When your entire infrastructure breaks down, it doesn’t much matter whether you have group health insurance or an individual policy.
    I’m sure that you’re smart enough to make intelligent comments on other issues related to health care policy.

  13. gadfly,
    The reason that Norway is the best place to live is because the U.S. went there and made sure everybody didn’t have to speak German.
    We protect the globe gadfly.

  14. I agree that the situation in New Orleans is underscoring the brutal maldistribution of resources that already existed in our society. It’s more difficult to ignore these problems or invoke individual altruism as the solution when there’s video proof that many people are “falling through the cracks”. Many of those people were there merely because they had no means to evacuate.
    By the way, the U.N. named Norway as the best country in the world for people to live. The U.S. is not even in the top five.

  15. Why don’t you stick to health care Matthew. For example, most people work for small employers. By state law, employers can not purchase the security of low cost individual health insurance for employees but must purchase over-priced dangerous group health insurance that terminates if the employer is no longer in business, as Katrina has shown us can happen.
    By state law, thank you Hillary Clinton, National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC – no one elects these people) and lobbyists from group health plans, employees must lose their health insurance with a National Disaster like Katrina.
    Trust me, our individual health insurance clients don’t lose their health insurance as they move to Texas by the invitation of Tom Delay.
    See the difference Matthew?
    It’s the same across the nation, individual health insurance discrimination. Employers should be able to purchase the security of low cost individual HSA health insurance so employees will be safe. Of course then the insurance company can’t just shed their liabilities, like employees that are too sick to work because of ovarian cancer, like they do today.
    Get a dangerous group health insurance plan if you are a small employer so all employees health insurance will be terminated if Katrina comes and blows your ass away. The most important thing to liberals is that everybody must be treated equal. No one is allowed to escape. You remember when the security and low cost of individual insurance was outlawed in America at worksite. It was called Small Group Reform. So Hillary, Ira Megaweiner and Donna Shalala didn’t lose their battle to control American health care in illegal secret meetings like the propaganda would have us believe.