10/13/09 10:28 pm - And once again
I step into the realm of the political.
I am, at this point, tired of the party of NO. For several years that party was the Democratic Party and now, for the last 10 months it has been the Republican Party. As case and point, I bring health care reform to the forefront. I will not come forward and say that the bills in the House and Senate will solve all the problems the plague the health care system, it took us decades to get here and one bill won't fix the problem. It is a step, a start, a place to move forward from. If we wait for the perfect bill, we will never have a law. The problem is, all the critics appear to be able to do is say NO.
Let me hear some viable alternatives, please. I've heard two alternatives, "Break down the laws restricting cross boarder purchasing of insurance and let the Capitalist system work" and "Limit malpractice awards to $250,000".
Let's start with the second one first, because I'm contrary that way. On the surface, this sounds like a great idea, $250 is a lot of money and is great compensation. Well, let's break that down a little. Start with the fact that to get the $250K, you have to hire a lawyer. A normal lawyer will agree to take on the case for 30% or $75,000. Sounds great, you still get $175,000, which is still a lot of money. Well, not so fast there. You still have to pay taxes on that money, which will put most people paying at the 38% level of the $250,000 and since Uncle Sam gets paid first, that comes out to $95,000. So, let's do the math: $250,000 minus the $95,000 for the government, minus $75,000 for your lawyer leaves you $80,000 or 32% of your malpractice award. Now for the next step; is your right arm worth $80K? How about your eyesight? Or perhaps your child? Are any of those things worth $250,000 after taxes and lawyers to you? More? Starting to get the point?
I agree, there are many frivolous malpractice lawsuits out there, target those, not legitimate claims. Target the real problem because what I just went over is about to play into the first alternative I skipped.
The Capitalist system. Sounds great, free market and all that. Well, first of all the Capitalist system is about one thing, Capital. Money. Money does not have ethics, morals, a soul nor does it care about humanist principles. A for profit venture cares about one thing, making a profit. Do not think, for one second, that any insurance company has your best interest at heart. They only care about their bottom line and what the law tells them they must do. The goal of the insurance company is to take your money and give as little of it to anyone else as humanly possible. They will find all the reasons in the world to reduce costs and not pay out.
Two, real world scenarios that happened in this household. Clue had major surgery, an incision from navel to pubic bone and the insurance company only authorized one night in the hospital. Her Dr. stood his ground and she ended up there for 3 nights but not until after a big fight and nearly a delayed surgery. I had minor surgery however I was put under General Anesthesia. My insurance company paid for the Anesthesia but was not going to pay for the Anesthesiologist. What, I was supposed to administer it myself? Both were resolved in our favor but took time and arguing with the insurance companies. They did not care about our health, they only cared about our money. That is how the Capitalist system works.
Now, to tie the two together. If an insurance company or doctor can only be held responsible for $250,000 of damages, now a cost benefit analysis happens. If we don't perform procedure X, it will cause a fatality 2% of the time, however we can only be financially responsible for $250,000 per fatality. The savings to the company by not doing X 100% of the time is $750,000 per 100 skipped procedures. The two fatalities will only amount to $500,000 and the bad press will amount to $100,000 so by not doing X, the company saves $50,000 per 100 skipped procedures which translates to Y Hundred Thousand per year. Don't think they'll do this? Look to the auto industry, they've balanced recalls vs $$ for years. It's one reason why the National Transportation Safety Board now has the authority to order automotive recalls. The Capitalist system cares about one thing... Capital.
Please feel free to start a courteous debate on the topic. Flames, insults and rudeness will be deleted but intellectual discourse and disagreement are welcome.