From all the reading I’ve been doing on healthcare lately it has dawned on me that medicine should not be a business. Education, which is vital to a strong democracy, is not treated as a business (except for those “voucher” people), and healthcare is even more vital. A couple of months ago I was wondering if health insurance was really good for us and tried to discover how much those companies made in net profits–wondering if it would be enough to finance “universal healthcare” as opposed to “health insurance.”
After searching the Internet for two days I discovered that the companies who were publicly traded made gobs of money, but without the profits of all the other health insurance companies which aren’t publicly traded, I really couldn’t reach an informed conclusion.
Today I found a couple of reports that made my eyes cross. Consumers Union and Families USA have put together some shocking numbers. Since you are concerned about Medicare, you may want to read these reports. One telling statistic that I came across showed that the per-case cost of administering healthcare by the government was in the neighborhood of 15 cents, compared with $1.25 for the same work done by health insurance companies. The reports I’m sending you links for tells why. The other concern about the cost of healthcare is prescription drugs, of course. I’m still working on that, but if Canadians can get drugs for 25-50 percent of what Americans are paying, I’m feeling fairly confident that “reform” is greatly needed. Here are a few numbers in the reports:
Total Compensation to CEOs of Health Insurance Companies (2002)
Norman Payson, M.D., CEO of Oxford Health Plans: $76,010,825
Leonard Schaeffer, CEO of WellPoint: $21,765,532
D. Mark Weinberg, executive VP of WellPoint: $14,046,201
The total of the twenty highest-paid executives in 2002 annual compensation, not including stock options: $237,907,917! Add to that the stock options: $1,153,864,691! Yes, that is a billion dollars! Together you are looking at $1.75 billion that went to twenty people in that industry in 2002. I think that answers the question I had about the profitability of health insurance companies.
On the subject of drugs: Public Citizen found that in 2002 the drug industry hired 675 different lobbyists from 138 firms in 2002–nearly seven lobbyists for each US senator. The industry spent a record $91.4 million on lobbying activities in 2002, an 11.6 percent increase from 2001.
For the Health Insurance reports go to:
My question: Why don’t we eliminate the insurance part of healthcare?
This is so informed that all I can say is RIGHT ON! I will publish your letter without a qualification from me except to say that my concerns are the same as yours, and my frequent points about the perils of privatized healthcare are complementary to your analysis.
Would you be so kind as to share your observations regarding any possible psychiatric problems that could result from overuse of the Internet and other forms of electronic telecommunication?