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June 15th, 2009
06:17 PM ET

The "Hidden Tax" on Health Care

We are already paying for health care for the uninsured whether we know it or not.  One report says each family pays about 1K/year for the uninsured.


Filed under: Nicole Lapin • Tony Harris
soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. puggles

    It's called cost shifting. Just as increased taxes to companies eventually end up as increased charges to their customers for whatever they do/produce, or theft in a store.

    In the past, hospitals etc literally had the difference pain for by philanthropists who were part of their board – the Carnegies, the Rockefellers. This doesnt happen anymore.

    Then, there was a difference based upon insured versus non-insured and the 3rd party insurers essentially picked up the difference between real cost and what Medicare, Medicaid and the uninsured paid. But then, these insurers negotiated rates on par with Medicare – or risk losing that possible customer base altogether if deemed "out of network". So, now it is the uninsured who get hit with the full MRSP charge, although they are the least likely to be able to afford it.

    The other cost which you do not mention is the cost of deferred care versus timely and continuing care. What is the cost of care to work with someone to change lifestyle, lose weight, correct fitness level, and medications to control blood pressure, blood glucose, and blood cholesterol levels for the, think it's been approximated 5 y until that major event – heart attack, heart failure, stroke? Now what is the cost for the rehab, the surgery – the direct costs – and the lost wages and the lost productivity of the family caretakers – the indirect costs.

    But, with insurance companies looking at merely 1 y contracts, why should they care about the difference in costs? why should they take on these costs as opposed to waiting until those catastrophic events when the person may be eligible for SSI and Medicare (but still doesnt have the ability to afford the Supplemental insurance for the 20% uncovered by Medicare, or the Part D pharmaceutical costs. This short-term vantage point was as was discussed re: the American Auto Industry versus the Japanese Auto Industry during the late 1980s and 1990s. These insurance companies, as they are public holdings, are beholden to Wall Street which is all about QUARTERLY numbers and dings you based upon those. As Graham and his disciple Buffet note, these are speculators and not investors; yet they command our economy even today.

    June 15, 2009 at 7:12 pm |
  2. Lilly Deyden

    Well, it seems the country is actually in agreement on 2 fronts of the Health Care Reform issue! 1) That health care and insurance coverage needs reform and 2) That health care and insurance coverage reform seems next to impossible!

    As a nurse and under-insured citizen, I appreciate President Obama's plan to put this reform in the forefront of political debate. However, his speech to the AMA still lacked some realistic recipe for success. Aside from one comment referencing "pre-existing conditions", the errs of insurance companies (or hospitals for that matter) has yet to be addressed in detail to the public! How can anyone condone multi-million dollar salaries, profit bonuses and legal protection, in light of denied coverage, high premiums and escalating cost? Until "we" or you Mr. President analyze the infra-structure and push for internal reform of these profit based organizations, the accountability of health care coverage will continue to be skewed towards those least able to absorb its costs and burdens. President Obama's "Devil to Fear", in my opinion, has to be the insurance companies. It's definitely time for an Exorcism!
    Lilly Deyden

    June 15, 2009 at 7:28 pm |
  3. POV

    The only way to get us out of the financial crisis and get all Americans the healthCARE they deserve is for Expanded, Improved Medicare for All. The system is already in place, all we need to do is open it up to all citizens. You get your private doctor and he bills Medicare for payment. simple really. really simple.

    June 15, 2009 at 8:15 pm |
  4. liz

    Question, why is it always President Bush, Former Vice President Dick Cheney AND Barack Obama...does President Obama, not deserve to be called by his title?? I'm just saying

    I listen to CNN everyday...and I can count on 1 hand the number of times President Obama is addressed as such

    June 15, 2009 at 8:41 pm |
  5. ROBIN yOUNG

    I am the former Mayor of Northlake, Texas. Currently I am 10 weeks along in my pregnancy. I am carrieing twins. I have read that Oboma is going to cut the option of "C Section" as a birthing option if the his health care plan passes. My husband and I have been trying to have a child for 10 years. We have been through invetro twice costing us around 30 thousand. We have worked hard to have children as many in my situation have. I am outraged that some burocrat thinks they know what is best for me and my family. I am out raged that they are willing to rick my life and the future lives of my 2 growing babies.

    Women have fought for the right for abortion and the right to do with their bodies as they see fit. Now I am going to have to fight for the right to have my children. It is well documented that women will do alost anything to protect thier young. Do not let this pass. Do not let government kill our children becuase they think they know better.

    I need your help.....my babies need your help.

    June 16, 2009 at 1:02 am |
  6. Concerned Veterans

    Dear; Mr. Obama, I am a vetran Of the Gulf War; but unfourtgantly, i had recievied a OTH just 18 monrhs into the U.S.Navy out of a 24 month enlistment! Of my own accord! Was Young and what some pepole call gunhoe!!!! to do something for my country!! But, I was independent and proud of it!! No, Doubt!! But never the less, I will always feel like i have let my family and country Down! But never gave up or stray from the objective of freedom or peace! I am Disabled and receive Medicare plus DHHR is paying my permium!! Which I am greatfull! I am a father of two young childeren. They are good childeren and they are what keeps me going ,just like so many amercians,but grow weary like so many. And wounder, HOPE, and Pray!! PLEASE! And you can to some dagree what THF is going on all over the WORLD!!!!!!!! Or, sone will be! Thank You, Please respond! After all, i believe in you, and voted for! I'm from Souyherern W.V. Sorry to say,but pepole are still closed mined here! And may be for some while. 06/15/09 BUT I'M TRYING! And so are many others! Will the Pepole will see if your weight in salt pays off or not???? Anything is possible, at any point in realitive space and time! LIVE WITH IT! the future is now, EMBRACE IT ALL!!!!!

    June 16, 2009 at 5:39 am |
  7. Mrs. Eileen Curras widow to Hernandez (WWII)

    The high number on uninsured in America was caused for the untimely attitude to turn the ear deaf to this situation. Have you asked for a minute are these people want this situation for themselves? The answer is no but the system or society has made it that way. The philanthropists are rare bread which is disappearing in our world. Finally the topic of the economy has catch up with this dormant monster which was excused with the use of label monopoly, free market, etc. Where are the politicians to keep pushing for the attitude to forget those American who do not have Health Insurance? Now they are using labels of communism or socialism to control and scare people. Open your eyes America and look at the big picture.

    June 16, 2009 at 8:14 am |
  8. Hubert Humbert

    People should be as afraid of Big Business as they are of Big Government.

    June 16, 2009 at 11:16 am |
  9. sheila in miami

    I am no expert, only a citizen. We need usable health care. I have so many friends with little or no health care at all, nor can they afford to pay a private insurer, this is beyond sad.

    There are many issues associated with health care, and there is an entire department of the government that should be either shut down or shifted to fighting terrorism or maybe fighting other abuses right here, the DEA must go.

    June 16, 2009 at 11:21 am |
  10. david

    I work in a large southern california trauma center which is part of a non-profit organization. We seen many patients that will spend months in our ICU's and have repeated Emergency Department visits. In addition, a significant percentage of these patients are mentally retarded/developmentally delayed to the point that they have no meaningful interaction with their caregivers. Often days if not longer will go by without family involvement or check in of any sort. If all goes well they leave, only to be readmitted from their long term care facility a month or two later for the exact same thing. An ICU bed can be over $10,000 a day, just for the bed space, not for treatments, medications, etc etc etc. Ultimately the tax payer and the hospital absorb the cost of keeping these individuals alive.

    Or another example is an uninsured or non-citizen is traumatically injured, life flighted in (which the air ambulance company will have to absorb most of), stabilized and over the course of the next few days is determined to have a grim prognosis and will only remain alive if they stay in an ICU. The family just can't let go, the patient eventually goes into cardiac arrest, is resuscitated, stabilized to some degree and the process starts over again to be repeated two, three, ten more times.

    I could go on, but I think the point is clear. Hopefully (though it probably won't happen) is that law makers take a hard look at where these dollars are going for. Absolutely C-sections should be covered under insurance, public or private. Prevenative medicine, assistance for low income US citizens, of course. The examples given above... I'll let you decide.

    June 16, 2009 at 11:44 am |
  11. Tom Harper

    A lot of people don't realize that they already pay the health care costs of the uninsured going to emergency rooms all over the country. Let's have affordable Universal Health Insurance so people can come out of the shadows. Just because somebody has got their head stuck in the sand like an ostrich doesn't mean there is nothing going on around them. There should be a Public Option for the poor and unemployed, with an adjustable scale to determine their ability to pay and level of care that can be subsidized. On one hand you have the private health insurance people saying how competitive they are, and on the other hand they are scared to death of a Public Option. These people are supposed to be offering first rate plans and family budget plans. Would competing with a Public Option plan be just too much for them? Maybe they cut some overhead then. And by overhead I don't mean the coverage.

    June 16, 2009 at 2:29 pm |
  12. Tom Harper

    Then there are some people out that we wouldn't be able to have state-of-the-art health care for everyone. I think most people already realize, especially since they don't state-of-the-art anything else in their lives. Just a doc that they can go to and get mid-twentieth century health care at an affordable price should do it for most people. The rich folks can keep the MRI's so that soft tissue can be examined carefully.

    June 16, 2009 at 2:43 pm |
  13. shokooh

    Please do not start talking about may be Ahmadinejad is really the elected president of Iran. There are a good number of solid evidences to show that Iran's election was a fraud. Please focus on passing Iranians message to the world rather than helping the suppressive regime of Iran to mislead the truth.

    June 16, 2009 at 3:37 pm |

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