Money-Driven Medicine

Money-Driven Medicine
Watch Video
August 28, 2009
The film MONEY-DRIVEN MEDICINE reveals how a profit-hungry medical-
industrial complex has turned health care into a system that squanders
millions of dollars on unnecessary tests, unproven and sometimes
unwanted procedures and overpriced prescription drugs. Oscar-winning
filmmaker Alex Gibney has teamed up with producers Peter Bull, Chris
Matonti, and director Andy Fredericks to produce a film based on
Maggie Mahar's powerful book MONEY-DRIVEN MEDICINE.

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We've had tort reform in Ohio for many years. When was the last time your insurance went down year over year?

Article published August 29, 2009
The state of U.S. health care demands change
OUR citizens are once again being bombarded with propaganda from the health-care industry. This historical discussion is at the point of a boil. The airwaves are filled with doubt and deception about "death panels" and government intervention - all designed to create confusion about which direction we should travel.

The reality is simple: If we do nothing, health-care costs will exceed 35 percent of our gross domestic product by 2016, almost four times that of our industrial competitors. Our nation's competitive advantage is already saddled with health-care costs twice the world average. Our foreign competitors and their transplant facilities are not saddled with similar costs and, as a result, enjoy a massive competitive advantage over domestic industrial producers.

In addition to the stifling results health care has on our industrial capacity, unaffordable medical costs result in 1.2 million additional bankruptcies annually, increasing pressure on the already struggling real estate market and separating families from their homes. It also adds to the burgeoning number of vacant housing units, disrupting neighborhoods, destroying property values, and eroding our tax base.

Most would assume these former homeowners lost their homes because they were without health coverage. What is truly illustrative is the fact that 75 percent of people involved in medical bankruptcies had coverage. It's not just a matter of the 47 million Americans without coverage, it's the tens of millions underinsured by an insurance industry motivated solely by profit.

The adversarial nature of our present health-care debate is easily broken down to one issue: profit. America is the outlier in the family of nations, the only developed country that attaches profit to the health care of its citizens. Profit before coverage will continue to impede our national recovery, overburden our manufacturing base, erode our property values, disrupt our tax base, and undermine an educational system that is reliant on property tax receipts.

It is time for change. First, we must understand where we are today and who is really paying the bill for health care.

Today, 44 percent of all individuals are covered by a government entity, with Medicare being the largest single-payer by far. Others include Medicaid, SChip for poor children, Tri Care Military, Veterans Administration, federal employees, and state, county, and municipal employees.

Many of these government employees and government recipients may be covered by a private insurer, but the cost of the policy is paid by the government with your tax dollars.

Next we have 13.9 percent of our population, 47 million citizens, who have no coverage at all. These costs are shifted directly to those who can pay. In 2007, the Toledo market cost-shift to your health-care dollar was 16.4 cents. If you spent $10,000 at an area hospital, $1,640 was due to indigent care provided by the hospital. Cost-shifting is a tax on your health-care benefits that you are not seeing.

That leaves a pool of 42.1 percent of our population available for the private for-profit insurance industry to compete for. A pool made up of employees who are covered through employment or who pay the cost out of pocket. It's a small pool for 1,600 licensed insurance companies.

The profit-before-coverage model is instructive in itself. The industry is required to submit annually to the Ohio Department of Insurance its profit and administration costs, which average 25 cents of every health-care dollar. Add the uncompensated indigent care at 16.4 cents and you are not getting a lot of health care for your dollar.

But this is not the end of the problem. The 1,600 health insurance companies all have their separate forms and paperwork. The staffing required at hospitals and medical offices to handle this maze of paper work and forms is never-ending.

Look around your doctor's office. How many employees are providing care and how many are moving paper?

We aren't paying for health care. We are currently paying for inefficient bureaucracy.

Thomas Joseph, of Northwood, is a trustee and business manager of Local 50, Plumbers and Steamfitters union.

Statements made are the opinion of the writer who is exercising his first amendment right to freedom of speech. Freedom of speech in the United States is protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and are generally permitted.

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