Saturday, May 14, 2011

Healthcare profits on the rise

Healthcare, one of the most fundamental rights in any decent, humane society, is operated on a corporate model here in the United States, and profits are on the rise.  We read in the New York Times this morning (bold and underline mine):
The nation’s major health insurers are barreling into a third year of record profits, enriched in recent months by a lingering recessionary mind-set among Americans who are postponing or forgoing medical care.

The UnitedHealth Group, one of the largest commercial insurers, told analysts that so far this year, insured hospital stays actually decreased in some instances. In reporting its earnings last week, Cigna, another insurer, talked about the “low level” of medical use.

Yet the companies continue to press for higher premiums, even though their reserve coffers are flush with profits and shareholders have been rewarded with new dividends. Many defend proposed double-digit increases in the rates they charge, citing a need for protection against any sudden uptick in demand once people have more money to spend on their health, as well as the rising price of care.

Even with a halting economic recovery, doctors and others say many people are still extremely budget-conscious, signaling the possibility of a fundamental change in Americans’ appetite for health care.

“I am noticing my patients with insurance are more interested in costs,” said Dr. Jim King, a family practice physician in rural Tennessee. “Gas prices are going up, food prices are going up. They are deciding to put some of their health care off.” A patient might decide not to drive the 50 miles necessary to see a specialist because of the cost of gas, he said. [...]

For someone like Shannon Hardin of California, whose hours at a grocery store have been erratic, there is simply no spare cash to see the doctor when she isn’t feeling well or to get the $350 dental crowns she has been putting off since last year. Even with insurance, she said, “I can’t afford to use it.” [...]

Significant increases in how much people have to pay for their medical care may prevent a solid rebound. In recent years, many employers have sharply reduced benefits, while raising deductibles and co-payments so people have to reach deeper into their pockets.
The entire health insurance industry is a major fraud, which is why I choose to remain uninsured.  I'd rather focus on eating healthy and remaining active than participate in a scam that only enriches the corporate healthcare sector.  After all, the recent healthcare reform bill pushed by the Obama administration was written by the very people making all the money at the private healthcare corporations.  That's what we call fascism folks.

Dr. Nancy Turner Banks has written extensively on the healthcare and medical industry in the United States, and Daryl Bradford Smith has conducted some excellent interviews with her over the past 3 years or so.



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