Saturday, May 6, 2017
Health Care: "A Paler Shade of Gray"
"A Paler Shade of Gray"
by Jim Kunstler
“If you seek to know why this country is in so much trouble, check out the lead reports about the health care reform bill in today’s New York Times, WashPo, and CNN. You will find there is no intelligible discussion in any of them as to what’s actually ailing US health care. All you get is play-by-play commentary about which political tag-team is “winning,” as if this were a pro wrestling match - with an overlay of gloat that the Republicans fell oafishly out of the ring in the early rounds.
Of course, an issue even larger than the health care fiasco is this society’s tragic and astounding inability to discuss anything coherently in the public arena, and that might possibly be traced to the failures of education in our time and its effects on the current crop of editors and news producers - people who grew up hearing that reality was just a constructed “narrative” and that one narrative was as good as another.
So, you would surmise from reading the papers (or their web editions) that the health care problem was simply a matter of apportioning insurance coverage. That is what the stage magicians call misdirection. Any way you cut the dynamics of health insurance, as practiced in the USA these days, it is nothing but racketeering, literally a conspiracy between informed players to swindle uninformed “patients.” The debate in congress (and the news media) is just about who gets to be swindled.
This is almost entirely due to the hocus-pocus of pricing for services. For an excellent dissection of all this, I urge you to read Karl Denninger’s comprehensive manifesto, "How To Permanently Fix Health Care For All", which he posted one month ago. You have to wonder whether anybody in congress happened to read this, because the debate has been devoid of any of the crucial points that it addresses.
The way it works now, the so-called “providers” (doctors, hospitals) refuse to post the cost of any service, and then charge whatever they feel they can extract, subject to an abstruse and dishonest ceremonial “negotiation” with the insurance company. The result: hospital and insurance executives get paid multi-million dollar salaries, doctors get to drive fine German cars, and the patient gets financially ass-raped, kicked to the curb, and eventually stuffed into the bankruptcy courts.
ObamaCare did nothing to fix this. It just added more victims to the rolls and upped the price of admission for a personal financial ass-raping, so that an insured individual could go to the hospital for an emergency appendectomy and end up getting dunned for thousands of dollars - or even more if one of the hosptial’s favorite cute scams is applied, such as calling in an out-of-network anesthesiologist to knock you unconscious (in which state you are unlikely to inquire whether he/she/zhe is in-network or out).
Under the current system, a hospital can bill you $5,999 to stitch up a cut finger, mitigate a bee-sting, or wind an Ace bandage around a sprained ankle, and you’re sure not to learn the cost-of-treatment until the postman drops off the incomprehensible “explanation of benefits” from the insurance company that states in bold print on top “This Is Not a Bill,” but actually is a report of your own incipient financial ass-raping.
But judging from the news reports this day, none of these issues is actually on the table in the congressional debate. I don’t believe the editors of The New York Times are necessarily “in bed” with the overpaid hospital CEOs and the insurance company fraudsters. They are simply putting up a defense of their previous psychological investment in Democratic Party ideology -” in the shibboleth that ObamaCare was unquestionably a great thing because it was created under the magically empowered 44th president.
I can believe that both Democratic and Republican law-makers are not only in bed with the medical fraudsters of all categories, but are performing a particularly odious form of sadomasochistic bondage-and-discipline sex in exchange for payoffs. Note, too, that none of the aforementioned major media have reported what the medical and insurance lobbyists have paid to their rent-boys and doxies in the US capitol. Wouldn’t you like to know?"