On the topic of health care, the link to this article in the Washington Post came to me via e-mail. Thanks, Elaine, for the link. I would dearly love a rational discussion of the topic instead of the shouting matches in which the participants reveal only their ignorance, prejudice, or contempt. The article makes some seldom mentioned points. We could definitely learn something from how other countries address this problem. Not everything is government run or socialistic. And much of it provides better care at a better price than the mishigas we have.
We saw an interesting account of a little known but nasty loophole in health insurance that has a number of people in Chicago who thought they were well covered facing dire financial situations as a result of medical emergencies. They found out too late that the hospital at which they were treated and/or the doctors or anesthetists who treated them were 'out of network.' They did not discover the fact until well after treatment after they thought the insurance had paid when the hospitals and doctors began to bill them directly for the costs that the insurance refused to pay. I was surprised to see the story on Fox News and equally surprised that the tone of the piece was somewhat critical of the insurance provider. I did take exception to the anchors' comments that people really had to be careful to read the information their providers give them on the limits of care. The individuals involved were all involved in emergencies and were not in any condition to ask the EMTs who transported them or the hospital workers who admitted them or the doctors who treated them if they were part of their insurance network. It is one thing to require that individuals get treatment with approved providers when the condition is not an emergency and the patient has some control over the timing of the treatment. Denying payment for emergency procedures is extreme cruelty.
But even if you do have that control over the timing of treatments and doctor's visits that doesn't mean you really have control or choice. Cynthia Tucker of the Atlanta Journal Constitution found that out trying to find a new pediatrician and confronting the fact that what seemed like a good insurance plan has some flaws in it especially in the matter of choice. She did not like the fact that she could not choose a highly recommended pediatrician who could schedule an appointment immediately unless she was willing to pay an exorbitant price for that choice. Otherwise she had to accept another doctor who was a totally unknown quantity but in network and wait two months for an appointment. I do take a bit of exception with her lead in that charges Obama with 'fudging a bit' about his health care plan. At least she contrasted Obama's fudging with his opponents outrageous lying. But I think she missed his major: IF you like your health care plan you can choose to keep it. If you don't like it you can change it. Perhaps the Obama plan would have allowed her to choose a plan, from the company her employer went with or from another, that would have covered her preferred doctor at a reasonable cost. We don't know and we may never know if the Republicans don't decide to deal honestly with this issue. Tucker is right on one thing: we don't have much choice now. (Thanks to John Aravosis at Americablog for the link.)