Saturday, July 19, 2008

Freedom to Order Medical Caviar?

Ex-White House Economic Adviser Al Hubbard cited major problems with employer sponsored health insurance. Rising medical costs thwart corporate CEO's maxing out their incentive compensation, thus depriving them of that executive health food, caviar.

Al crafted a plan for employers to jettison that pesky benefit and used the aforementioned terms, caviar and food, to sell his nefarious wares at The Center for American Progress Action Fund. Mr. Hubbard noted 47 million Americans without health insurance, but neglected 25 million currently underinsured, in part due to his market based solutions and high deductible health plans. He never mentioned those with insurance pay an average 20% in out of pocket costs.

That old "eighty/twenty rule" exists in health care, as eighty percent of health care costs are incurred by twenty percent of the patients, five percent make up fifty percent of all costs. Al wants that five to twenty percent to soldier up and quit eating caviar via feeding tubes or washing down their medical care with fine barium cocktails.

Not only do they need to quit ordering expensive medical tests and treatment for themselves (doctors don''t exist in Al's world), sick patients need to push aside that vomit basin and shop for prices. There's where the real savings will come! Never mind that employees already pay $3,300 annually for their health insurance benefit and 20% in out of pocket costs. So that medical caviar isn't anywhere near free, despite Al's assertions. Even people with insurance avoid necessary care due to high out of pocket costs.

Gee, what happened to group purchasing? Shouldn't some group, like the government or employers, package large numbers of people for preferential pricing? Employers are the historical linchpin in providing health insurance coverage, although the percent has declined from nearly 70% to 59% of all covered Americans. Hubbard greases the skids for that to drop to zero.

Al had the temerity to suggest insurance companies (of which he served on the Board of Directors) should only collect those high dollar premiums to cover healthy people. His home owner's analogy was "the insurance company can't be expected to insure a house on fire".

Hubbard's later cited West Germany's laudable profit motive. That comparison failed in the eyes of those who understand Europe's "socialized" health care system.

Mr. Hubbard delegated all the required health care purchasing knowledge to the individual, leaving the government and employers off the hook. That's a tough road when people are acutely ill, have a low level of medical literacy, and are an insured group of one, if they have coverage at all.

John McCain endorses the Hubbard crafted health care plan. It eliminates incentives for employers to offer insurance and shifts the burden of health care costs onto individuals. Tax credits would help people buy insurance. Do you want to pay 100% of your insurance premium and all your out of pocket costs? Get ready, Al's tired of you caviar gorging, whining Americans.