I’m always amused to see Ivy league professors with tenured appointments and gold-plated group health insurance explaining how the individual market for health insurance works pretty well for, well, quite a few of the well people in it. But this award is not for Mark Pauly.
Today there’s a long piece in the Wash. Post (essentially paid for and scripted by Kaiser Family Foundation—which may be the future model of health care journalism). In it, we see this paragraph:
Experts define the underinsured as those forced to spend at least 10 percent of their income on health care, excluding premiums. But the nonprofit Center for Studying Health System Change found recently that financial pressures on families increase sharply when out-of-pocket spending on medical bills exceeds 2.5 percent of family income. New York’s Commonwealth Fund has reported that 72 million adults under age 65 had problems paying medical bills or were paying off medical debt in 2007, up from 58 million in 2005. Many had insurance, and 39 percent said they had exhausted their savings paying for health care.
Yup, even people with insurance are in real trouble. Two days ago I met a woman in her early 20s who faces 3 more years paying off extra bills from emergency ankle surgery 2 years ago. And yes she had insurance–just not very good insurance.
And so we have around 25% of adults having problems paying medical debts. And of course that’s a 2007 number—in other words pre-recession. So in order to be “balanced,” they get a quote from a resident member of the loony right. And for our tone deaf git of the month award we select this wonderful piece of empathy.
Economist Thomas P. Miller of the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative Washington think tank, said he believes the problem of medical debt has been exaggerated and is a symptom of the broader economic crisis. The solution, he said, should not be "to kill people with kindness" by requiring an overly expansive and expensive benefits package that could "preempt the use of resources for other purposes."
In other words, screw you poor people, you’re on your own and the system works fine.
I just wonder what Tom Miller would think if, instead of being a highly paid pundit at a
corporate tax dodge promoting front organization
conservative think-tank, he was instead a young person entering the
workforce while having to spend the next three years paying off medical
debt incurred through no fault of his own.
Would it per chance change his opinion? Or would he be
happy pulling himself up by his bootstraps encouraged that as he didn’t have an
"overly expansive and expensive benefits package", he’d cheerfully using
his "resources" for the "other purpose" of paying his credit card company for the next five
In any event I’m feeling Olbermanish this morning, so he wins the first tone deaf git of the month award.
And yes, point of care fees that cause debt and hardship
(and bankruptcy) are the BIGGEST problem in American health care,
whether you have good, some or no insurance. The point of care is completely the wrong
place to charge people money for health care services and anyone with
half a brain who’s looked at the data realizes that….or if they
haven’t they should go talk to Bob Evans & Maurice Barer about the zombies.