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Privacy Businesses

The Doctor Will See Your Credit Score Now 464

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the what's-up-doc dept.
mytrip writes to mention that the same people who invented credit scores are working to create a similar system for hospitals and other health care providers. "The project, dubbed "MedFICO" in some early press reports, will aid hospitals in assessing a patient's ability to pay their medical bills. But privacy advocates are worried that the notorious errors that have caused frequent criticism of the credit system will also cause trouble with any attempt to create a health-related risk score. They also fear that a low score might impact the quality of the health care that patients receive."
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The Doctor Will See Your Credit Score Now

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 19, 2008 @12:30AM (#22105556)
    They also fear that a low score might impact the quality of the health care that patients receive.

    Of course this will impact the quality of healthcare that people receive. Don't be absurd. Look, as someone who is involved in his family business (12 docs, 100 total employees), the ability of patients to pay is fundamental because healthcare is a business. Doctors graduate medical school with six figures in debt, buildings cost money, running a business with good people takes money to pay your employees with and more. It is hard enough as a small business in medicine, but competing with larger hospital groups who make access like this part of their business practice (like HMOs) are making it even harder because they shunt patients who are less able to pay to the local doctors or smaller clinics, and these are the businesses that suffer the burden of non-payment.

    What is the solution? Trying to figure out who has what insurance (some insurance is better than other types) and who can afford to pay for more expensive procedures is just bad medicine and bad social responsibility. Socialized medicine is not it either, however, a return to fee for service medicine is a better option for all people involved. Scrap the HMOs (who are in business to make money, not provide health care), scrap the insurance companies (middle men extracting their pound of flesh) and return to a system where you pay for services rendered with insurance for catastrophic coverage. Granted, many specialized procedures will not be utilized as much but health care coverage for two healthy people is often in the $8k-$12k/year range as it is. And what is the average American getting for that expenditure? You are paying typically out of pocket expenses on top of that as well if you do take advantage of health care services and if you prove a bad insurance risk, you get dropped entirely. Look, insurance companies are not in business to help you stay healthy, or get well... They are publicly traded companies who's bottom line is profit and that profit comes at your expense. A classic parasitic business model that has been promulgated on the American public. However, this will have to change as it is dragging down US business, small and large, big time.

    • by MightyMartian (840721) on Saturday January 19, 2008 @12:35AM (#22105588) Journal
      American society is all about me. It's not about you. It's about me. Let the poor die, stupid miserable bastards. America hates the poor, grinds them up on the mill of the American Dream, grist for the wealthy. Fuck those that can't pay for health, and fuck their disgusting children. Jesus loves a rich America where the poor are crushed under the weight of big business. Money is the God of America, and Jesus is all about the Money. The only thing that counts in America is business; business and money. Society can go get fucked, because business is overlord. Congressmen sell their worthless souls to it, and those that can't afford decent health care should be given a fucking bullet and told to put it between their eyes, because America is all about me.
      • by King_TJ (85913)
        Of course, this sort of story was just BEGGING for the trolls to come out..... but I'm going to reply to this one, just because it's a fundamental part of the issue at hand, really.

        American society is SUPPOSED to be all about individual rights and freedoms for YOU and ME. The "catch" has always been, great responsibility comes along with great freedom. People who want part 2, but not part 1 of that equation lead us to the vast majority of our society's ills.

        The very idea of the "dollar" boils down to a
    • by gad_zuki! (70830) on Saturday January 19, 2008 @12:43AM (#22105642)
      Oh bullshit, socialized medicine is the solution and we've seen it work pretty well in western europe.

      My ability to pay has nothing to do with my credit or money in my bank. It has everything to do if my insurance decides to screw me or screw you. An MRI I needed a couple of years ago which was supposed to be covered by insurance cost me 1500. My insurance paid them 1100. Both of those parties are just trying to screw me for cash. Instead of working with insurance companies the MRI people just pull a number out of their butts. Their inability to work with my good insurance or the insurance's inability to pay fair prices puts me in the middle of a capatalistic nightmare where my own health is used as leverage points to see who can bill the most and pay out the least. This is incredible! The most pathetic part of this was that I was told by the MRI people that if my insurance refused to pay anything they had a nice low cash price of 300 dollars. In other words theyre making money at 300, but bill 1500!

      Sorry, but the only way out of this nightmare is mass socialization of medicine and getting away from the idea that my illness should make you rich.
      • by techno-vampire (666512) on Saturday January 19, 2008 @01:03AM (#22105746) Homepage
        Oh bullshit, socialized medicine is the solution and we've seen it work pretty well in western europe.


        We already have a form of socialized medicine here in the US. I've been unemployed for several years, I'm a Type II diabetic with other, unrelated health issues, and I get all my medical care from the US government, free of charge. If I were working, I'd have to pay a co-pay, but not much. How? Oh, it was easy! All I had to do was spend three years in the US Navy, including 7 months in Tonkin Gulf back in '72.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Kyojin (672334)
        Sounds like you lost out on $100 there - cost you $400 paying the difference between the insurance of $1100 and the MRI cost of $1500, whereas if you'd said insurance won't pay, it would have cost you $300.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by ilikepi314 (1217898)
        (1) I've read several articles about socialized systems in Europe being severely in debt. If that's the case, even if its a good idea and works short term, its not sustainable. We would have to do things different that Europe, especially given the amount of debt we're in already. (2) Purely making so much profit annoys me, but then we must remember that doctors start off with lots of debt, have to pay many bills, insurance (malpractice, etc.), not to mention the crazy expenses required to buy things like M
        • by IgnoramusMaximus (692000) on Saturday January 19, 2008 @01:54AM (#22106074)

          I've read several articles about socialized systems in Europe being severely in debt.

          You have to stop reading propaganda. The "severe debt" is usually a misrepresentation of an overall governmental debt which has been shrinking throughout Europe ever since most governments adopted "balanced budget" policies back in the 1980s. Many European governments routinely end up with budgetary surpluses which leads to a lively debate on how to spend them, with some advocating rapid debt reduction while others investment in other things. The same applies to Canada, which also sports socialized medicare and which has been running budgetary surpluses for almost a decade now.

          As a matter of fact, the most debt inducing and downright ruinous economic policy is practiced by none other then the "free market knows best", "conservative" goofuses running the USA, where the government debt is spiralling completely out of control, with most of the money going to gigantic military contractors and mercenaries with no conceivable return on that investment to the average taxpayer other then piles of dead foreign people and rapidly increasing general global hostility, not to mention othe wee things such as the devastating trade imbalances.

          If that's the case

          It isn't, although some greed-monkeys, like our "small medical businessman" GP, do oh-so-dearly want it to be true.

          even if its a good idea and works short term, its not sustainable.

          See above. Most EU governments project declining debts, while the US debt is increasing astronomically, despite of the ever more obvious and heavy-handed attempts by the US elites to instill a vicious dog-eat-dog "society" in there, with clear-cut stratification of the economic royalty and the de-facto indentured slaves underneath.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by schnikies79 (788746)
        We have socialized medicine.

        I work in a pharmacy (trying it out before I decide if I want to go to pharmacy school). I see Medicare/Medicaid and state Medicaid patients all day, every day. They pay nothing.

        But hey, those programs won't be around much longer since it's going to be bankrupt by 2019 [google.com]. Let's instead pay everything for everyone so the system can be bankrupt by next year.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 19, 2008 @01:53AM (#22106072)
          We could always stop pouring billions upon billions of dollars into killing people and focus on keeping people alive.
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by schnikies79 (788746)
            We could also stop pouring billions upon billions of dollars into fixing laziness.

            If you won't take some responsibility for your own health (aka get off your ass and exercise, eat healthier, etc.), I don't feel I should take up the slack by paying for you.
        • by VanessaE (970834) on Saturday January 19, 2008 @06:30AM (#22107346) Homepage
          Oh this whole subject pisses me off, but this comment just takes the cake.

          I see Medicare/Medicaid and state Medicaid patients all day, every day. They pay nothing.

          Not to dispute your choice of profession, but you're just plain wrong here. My husband receives Medicare, and even with that coverage, we still have to pay money out-of-pocket for every single medicine, and for every other service he needs. Case in point: my husband needs surgery to re-position and/or fuse a couple of diseased vertebrae in his lower back. The one surgeon in the area who does this kind of surgery wanted about $70,000, but Medicare only covers 80% (sometimes less) of anything you claim, leaving us to pay a $14,000 balance. That doctor also expected an additional $17,000-ish for the hospital, none of which is covered by Medicare he told us. So, my husband's total bill would have been at least $17,400 if the hospital were covered at the usual 80%, or upwards of $31,000 if the doctor is right about lack of coverage.

          We are both disabled, and that second (more likely) figure is well over two years' pay for us! How the hell are we supposed to afford that kind of expense and still pay for a roof over our heads? I mean, seriously, WTF!?

          As for Medicaid, whether you pay anything or not depends on the particular implementation of that program where you live. Where I live now, I haven't been able to establish what costs there might be, but where I came from in Florida, you have to pay back every penny the government spends on you should you ever come into some money down the road, no matter how much or how little. Case in point: Over the course of a couple of years, I had accrued several thousand in medical bills, all of which the government agency providing my general medical coverage paid for. I ended up being injured in a car accident (other driver rear-ended us) and received a $10,000 settlement from the offending driver's auto insurance company. Well, I got about $3000 of that settlement, my lawyer took another $2500 or something, and the government agency providing my coverage took the rest. My medical coverage was then terminated because I got too much money from the settlement. I never got back onto that program.

          Translation: I paid for no less than 70% of my medical expenses, despite supposedly having health coverage. And yes, it's a Medicaid-affiliated program.

          As for Social Security, Your google search has sources which claim that there were errors in the government cost estimates. What no one seems to want to tell people is that we have a surplus of funding that had been built up decades ago, and which is expected to run dry in around 2020ish. At that point, the program will still be at break-even. Take a look at The US budget for 2008 [wikipedia.org]. Expenses add up to $2.9 trillion, while the government is showing receipts of only $2.66 trillion. What the Wikipedia article doesn't say is just how much of that spending is pork and how much actually gets spent properly (I'm guessing 50:50 or worse).

          By this point, I really shouldn't have to say this, but I will anyway: Stop the wars, stop the government waste, tax the rich more than you tax the poor, and put a fucking cap on the raw cost of medical care. There is NO ETHICAL REASON WHATSOEVER that (quoting a previous poster) an MRI should cost $300 for an individual but $1500 for an insurance company, that a mass-produced vial of insulin should cost $75 for one month's supply, that any pill of any kind should cost more than a few cents each, or that the aforementioned back surgery should cost anywhere close to $96,000.

          And to think, this is how I felt *before* I watched "SiCKO". What scares me the most is that practically everything in that movie as far as mainstream US health care is concerned is fact. I'd be better off dead than ill in this country.

      • I live in Uruguay, and like the previous Romanian poster, we have a socialized medicine here (a bit mixed, not fully socialized).

        It seems to work a bit better than what you're describing (and way better than the Romanian system), but it has some severe downsides.

        I get deducted 4,5 % of my salary each month (6% if you have children), and that pays for the monthly fee at the "mutual" (our form of medical care based on the ), which gives me basic health coverage.

        By "basie", I mean "call us if you're dying
    • by sumdumass (711423)
      Man how I agree with you. Except I have no problem aiding the poor that can't afford health care. By this I don't mean the ones who drive a new car or have 3 quads in garage, I mean the people who don't trade health care insurance payments for a nicer car or more toys to break your arm on. I'm talking about the Schmuck who would be missing out on something like food or houseing if they paied for insurance. But enough about that.

      I'm glad you brought up the HMO's. America went through a public health coverage
    • Trying to figure out who has what insurance (some insurance is better than other types) and who can afford to pay for more expensive procedures is just bad medicine and bad social responsibility.

      Real-world data shows this to be false. Countries that emphasize prevention, regular check-ups, and healthy lifestyles have better health outcomes at much lower cost than the US. Those are the kinds of medical services that people should be given without regard to their ability to pay.

      But if you choose to live an
    • by value_added (719364) on Saturday January 19, 2008 @01:27AM (#22105920)
      Scrap the HMOs (who are in business to make money, not provide health care), scrap the insurance companies (middle men extracting their pound of flesh) and return to a system where you pay for services rendered with insurance for catastrophic coverage.

      As a Candian living in the US, you're preaching to the already converted, but still bewildered and dismayed, if not appalled.

      I'll add an interesting tidbit of information. Three out of four voters in the US is a member of the American Association of Retired Persons [wikipedia.org]. Sounds perfectly reasonable, given that older folks tend to be the ones that vote, but problematic when you consider that AARP is fundamentally an insurance company.

      Insurance companies are Really Big business. And if Warren Buffett's investment preferences are any indication, more profitable than ever. I don't see them going away any time soon despite the gradual awareness by the electorate that their healthcare system, when viewed in the context of the rest of the industrialised world, is an embarassment.
    • by hdparm (575302)
      OK. However, it is really tragic that in the 21st century the wealthiest countries (apart from few examples) don't provide highest quality healthcare for all their people. There is just no way that anybody can convince me that money spent on military in USA cannot be spent for more useful purposes.
  • by cpotoso (606303) on Saturday January 19, 2008 @12:32AM (#22105562) Journal
    how about having a MDFICO (quality of provider)? hell! they wouldn't like that a bit, would they?
    • It will never happen. Corporate America can do what it likes to individual Americans, who can't do a damned thing about it as a rule.
    • by epee1221 (873140) on Saturday January 19, 2008 @12:36AM (#22105594)
      I'm kinda liking the idea of scores based on how likely all insurance companies (auto, medical, etc.) are to pay.
    • Like I said before... baby boomer DINKs getting medicare before your parents. That's what this stuff is about, preparing for the coming wave of no longer able bodied and making sure that the number of those monopoly bucks the Fed prints are still what gets you into line.
    • I wonder if a lot of the subprime mortgage mess could have been avoided had the mortgage brokers been subject to a similar kind of scoring, rating how many customers thought that they were ripped off by the brokers.


      It would also be interesting to have scoring of the FICO scoring.

      • by sumdumass (711423)
        The big problem with the sub prime situation was that these loans were made with the intent of selling them off to investments that wouldn't need the going rate of return. The customer in default wouldn't be the customer of the broker who wrote the loan. The idea is, get the loan for a set amount of time at a lower rate, then mark it up based on the going rate a few years down the road and hopefully the homeowner could afford the increased rates.

        The lending companies couldn't barrow money as cheap as the lo
    • I have had the worst trouble with any entity that I ever owed money to with doctor's offices. Thanks to the time it can take to go through all the insurance paperwork, it can be MONTHS before a debt is finally billed to you so that you can clear it. This only gets worse when you consider the massively outsourced structure of medicine today. I've had miscellaneous expenses from various outsourced diagnostic clinics that tests were sent off take over 8 months to reach me after a visit, and I've had to deal
    • If providers were rated like that then they would avoid taking on patients who have medical issues that are more likely to have complications from treatment. Doctors in the states already do this to a degree to keep liability insurance rates down. The solution here in Canada is that the system is setup so that it is basically impossible to sue doctors. This means much lower malpractice insurance rates for doctors here, assuming they even bother with getting it. They still have a strong discouragement from m
  • by doyoulikeworms (1094003) on Saturday January 19, 2008 @12:34AM (#22105570)
    Because I know the types of posts that are coming.

    There's no such thing as a free lunch.
    • No, but the current system is horribly, horribly broken.

      The laws of economics pretty clearly state that socialized medicine will *never* be the most efficient system.

      However, experience has shown us that it establishes an acceptable baseline, and generally works a whole lot better than the system currently in place in the US. According to the statistics, America's not doing so well at the moment.

      Socialized medicine might not be the best answer, but it is one possible solution. Anybody defending the curren
  • Wow (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    that the same people who invented credit scores are working to create a similar system for hospitals [CC] [MD] and other health care providers.
    Wow. So I guess these "people" don't feel they have enough power to ruin people's lives?
  • by kamatsu (969795) on Saturday January 19, 2008 @12:38AM (#22105612)
    In the United States, those in middle-to-low income groups often get very poor health insurance from their employer, or worse, depend on Medicare/aid grants from the government.

    This means that only those with money have proper access to health care, treatment and diagnosis.

    In Australia, private cover is only designed to be an add-on for existing government-provided cover via the Pharmaceutical benefits scheme and Medicare. Medicare levies are paid on an income-ramped scale, and you can be exempt in some cases from paying altogether.

    In this way, those that can afford good health care (i.e high incomes) enable those who cannot (low incomes) with at least a baseline medical cover that is far more extensive than the government health grants in the US of A.

    This introduction of a credit-rating style scheme only makes the problem worse. Someone may have been unemployed and become very ill, and ended up being unable to pay medical bills promptly/at all. They may later have become employed - perhaps even at a high income, but will therefore still be cursed with a poor medical credit rating and be turned away from healthcare.

    No one should be denied medical treatment in this way, and the fact that this system is being developed suggests there is something wrong with excessively privatized health like in the United States.

  • by timeOday (582209) on Saturday January 19, 2008 @12:40AM (#22105626)
    What we need is a way for people to reliably assess doctors and hospitals, including who charges how much, before handing their health and wallets over to them.

    We also need real accountability for credit reporting agencies. Simply requiring them to change incorrect information after the damage is already for done and requiring each of us to police the companies on our own dime - is crazy. They're immune for normal charges of libel, and should not be.

    • by sumdumass (711423)
      It wouldn't matter. In a lot of areas, there is no real choice in doctors and hospitals. There is one hospital in my area, there were talks about putting another in but the existing hospital fought tooth and nail to successfully stop it. Then a year or two later, they built on a new wing to increase the capacity by 1/3 and we still have 4-8 hour non trauma emergency room waits. And this hospital is considered the best one in the area without having to go about 30 minutes away.

      There was an article in the pap
  • In my local paper, there was an opinion article about this that pointed out that credit scores reflect (for the most part) voluntary debt, while medical debt is involuntary debt.

    Most people can decide to buy a more expensive car than a less expensive car, or put a new TV on a credit card. But breaking a bone isn't a voluntary decision.

    • by L0rdJedi (65690)
      Most people can decide to buy a more expensive car than a less expensive car, or put a new TV on a credit card. But breaking a bone isn't a voluntary decision.

      Breaking the bone may not be, but maybe the action before that caused the bone to break was. Driving a car? That's a voluntary action and you assume certain risks when you do it. Climbing a mountain? Same thing.

      The point is, everything comes down to a voluntary decision at some point. It's not like you're at home, sitting on the couch, and then a
  • This is a good thing. We need more free market forces at work in medicine. The entire civilized world seems to have fallen into this belief that its normal for health care to cost vast sums of money even for relatively simple and routine things. We wouldnt have this problem of people not being able to pay for most health care related services to begin with if it werent for the fact that we have removed the efficiencies that should exist in a market based economy. If we simply did away with all of the th
    • We wouldnt have this problem of people not being able to pay for most health care related services to begin with if it werent for the fact that we have removed the efficiencies that should exist in a market based economy. If we simply did away with all of the things that cause prices to be artificially inflated like insurance (whether government or private) people would be far better off in the long run.
      And the AMA?
      • by jorghis (1000092)
        The AMA, while it does some good things has done a lot to drive costs up as well. They make the barriers of entry artificially high in a lot of areas where it does not need to be. This restricts the supply of potential health care providers and as a result will actually decrease the quality even though their goal with extremely high barriers of entry was supposedly to increase quality.
  • Given the rhetoric of some politicians you'd think the health care industry would be trying as hard as it could to encourage people to support the existing system. Instead they seem bent on driving everyone to embrace socialized health care.
  • by nguy (1207026) on Saturday January 19, 2008 @01:00AM (#22105722)
    Receptionist: Do you have a Q4A5 planet insurance waiver?

    Xev: No.

    Receptionist: A D-class standard waiver?

    Xev: Sorry.

    Receptionist: Any waivers of any kind?

    Xev: No.

    Receptionist: Then cash will be fine.

    Xev: Pardon?

    Receptionist: Precious metals or bankable equivalents.

    Xev: We have no precious metals or bankable anything.

    Receptionist: Then your situation becomes a class 1313.

    Xev: What's that?

    Receptionist: Ignored.

    Xev: You can't do that.

    Receptionist: I'm afraid I have no choice. Policy is policy.

    Kai: We will pay you later.

    Receptionist: I'm sorry, MEDSAT does not accept credit.

    Xev: This is an emergency!

    Receptionist: I understand. Please inform the next person to appear on the screen.

    Xev: Hey, lady, watch! Lexx, blow up that little red moon we just passed.
  • There is nothing stopping an enterprising consumer from setting up a DocFICO. Bascially a MedFICO in reverse, where the consumers would rate the doctors on their skills and possibly number of malpractice suits filed against them. Perhaps, something like this is needed to even the playing field.

    But lets not forget that Medicine, like any other business, is a business, and the way that businesses stay afloat is by providing a service (or product) that paying customers will want. That being the case, someo

  • tit for tat (Score:2, Funny)

    by Uzik2 (679490)
    Let's put up a web site where you can post the hospital's medical score.
    We can see how many sponges got left in patients, etc. Just sounds fair to me.
  • I didn't realize that health coverage was affordable in the first place that a person could actually pay for it. That's why my health coverage is a monthly membership to the local gym for the last six years.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by j79zlr (930600)
      Actually its people like you that drive health care costs up, since you have no insurance, get it a car wreck and spend a couple of days in the hospital. You don't have the means to cover your costs, so now its passed on the me the lowly responsible middle class citizen. Thanks.
  • As a poor person / family that lives in a HMO based state, getting medical care sucks. I recently had to drive 30 miles just to get a eye exam. THEN, getting the glasses was locally in town. WTF? Prior to the HMO crap everything was in town. My wife might have cancer, and to add insult to that, we had to wait for "permission" from the HMO to have the fucking tests done. ?? (which took 2 months) It's not medical assistance, it's medical resistance!
  • I love the subject of health care. It brings out the finest kinds of ignorance. Some random facts to consider (Google for the references):

    - As a financial instrument, insurance exists to distribute risk, not cost. Anybody who does not understand what the distinction is please vacate the discussion. Technically speaking, insurance is how one distributes risk and some approximation of communist government (in a literal rather than pejorative sense) is how one distributes cost. Trying to use the former

    • by Soko (17987) on Saturday January 19, 2008 @03:38AM (#22106646) Homepage
      The quality is mediocre, but what do you expect with socialized medicine.

      Just so you know, I'm insured by the Ontario Health Insurance Plan. It's what we call a Crown Corporation - a company run for the benefit of the people of my province. It's formed by an act of the Provincial Parliament, and answers to the government, but is in all other aspects a real company - other than it's forbidden by law to make a profit. Yes, part of my Ontario Income Tax is used to fund the company, so I pay my premiums as a matter of course, rather than seperately. Last year I paid about $5500CDN in Ontario tax - total - and I make a pretty good salary. So, the risk you speak of is shared by all in Ontario through having a Crown Corporation. BTW - if it does make a profit, the money is put back into the public purse. People pay what they can afford, and other than having some fat-cat bureaucrats who make inflated salaries, it's cost effective for us - no one is trying to make money for shareholders, they try to give good care.

      It's not perfect by any stretch, sure. We don't have enough doctors, but OHIP is trying to remedy that in a reasonable way. Yes, I've waited for hours in an emergency room, but that was after a rather nasty accident on the highway flooded the place with the severely injured and I just had a sore back. I went to a clinic the next day and received the care I needed - I just walked in, showed them my OHIP card and got medical care that fixed me up.

      I have choice in health care providers, do need to pay some out of pocket expenses (i.e. prescriptions, crutches etc.), and get excellent care when I really need it. I haven't looked for the numbers, but I'm pretty sure our outcomes are very close to yours. There are horror stories of course, but there are also just as many examples of people getting stellar care.

      It works pretty damned well, we get very good care and I don't need to worry that I'll be bankrupted by getting sick and having someone trying to profit from my misfortune. I'll take a little less quality for half the price, thankyouverymuch.

      Soko
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Insightfill (554828)

      - All Americans have health care, even those that cannot afford it, and the idea that there are people without access to health care is a myth that inflames the clueless and serves the purposes of political propaganda. The quality is mediocre, but what do you expect with socialized medicine. It is not hypothetical, I was one of those invisible souls raised on government health care for the destitute.

      There's a fairly large set of holes defined by the "underinsured" and the "uninformed".

      The uninformed are

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by NIckGorton (974753)

      All Americans have health care, even those that cannot afford it, and the idea that there are people without access to health care is a myth that inflames the clueless and serves the purposes of political propaganda. The quality is mediocre, but what do you expect with socialized medicine. It is not hypothetical, I was one of those invisible souls raised on government health care for the destitute.

      Ah, yes. As President Bush said - if you need health care, just go to the ER.

      Sorry, nope. As an ER doctor, I can tell you there are many things you will never get that way. Need a pap smear? Nope, we don't do them in the ER? Need surgery and chemotherapy for your advanced cervical cancer? Again, sorry - we don't do that in the ER. Maybe when you come in bleeding out from your vagina, we'll admit you, but you won't be getting definitive care. Need surgery for your broken arm? Nope - that's not an emergen

  • by eataTREE (7407) on Saturday January 19, 2008 @02:40AM (#22106332)
    Once again, American libertarian Slashdotters come out in droves to let us know that socialized medicine couldn't possibly work. I guess this is plausible enough, as long as you're suffering from some sort of epistemological disorder that prevents you from perceiving the universe outside the borders of the United States. Because in every other Western industrialized nation, some sort of socialized medicine has been the reality for decades, and, not coincidentally, they all provide a better standard of care to their citizens for less money than we do here in the USA. (Yes, even with the waiting lists.)

    Argue, if you want, that health care shouldn't be universal on some sort of social Darwinist grounds ("The sick should die, because they are weak!"), but please stop trying to suggest that there's something inherently unworkable about government-provided health care. It's sort of like arguing that the Earth is flat or that water runs uphill: it's clearly contradicted by fact.
  • Many hospitals will try to bill in triple if possible. My boss has been billed in triple several times, and each time he has called the hospital, asked them for prices on their procedures, and stated he would only pay the noted price. Even after that, the hospitals would submit the triple billing to his insurance company in hopes they would pay the difference. The problem with the hospital system in the US is the greed on many levels, whether it be from the malpractice lawyers right up to the doctors tha
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 19, 2008 @03:55AM (#22106732)
    In 2004, I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphatic Leukemia. At the time, I was working for a rather well known technology company that had a great benefits package, great insurance, and treated me well -- I was placed on Short Term Disability, then Long term Disability, and Aetna/BCBS paid for most of my Rx and Dr's Trips. 18 months later, in 2005, my cancer was in remission, but, my doctor didn't want me back on the road because of my immune system being in the state that it is.

    I've changed employers, since then, because I grew tired of being stuck on LTD, and was 'acquired' by another company last year. Same insurance (Aetna became BCBS), similar benefits.

    I go to the Pharmacy to grab my Monthly Maintenance Medication this month, only to find out that my employer removed that coverage from the benefits package. Now, I'm paying $750/month for medicine to keep me alive. No Biggie -- I go in for my monthly labwork, only to discover that my blood draws and hematologic shit isn't covered anymore. Well, now I'm kinda getting worried, because It's going to cost me another 1200 to get my lab work done. (We're at $1950/month just to keep me alive, right now, where it used to be $100 -- $80 for my meds, and $20 for the labwork).

    Add on top the trips to the Dentist (I've spent over $6K with my Dentist in the past 2 years recovering from the hell that chemotherapy and Barium treatment does to your teeth), and I'm looking to probably spend $24,000 this _year_ on medical bills alone. While Flex plans help, it's really not that much.

    This begs the question -- If I had chosen a different career path, and if I was working as a busboy at a restaurant, would I still be alive today?

    I'm not saying that Social Medical coverage is the answer. I'm not saying that I know the answer, but, think about things like this:

    My brother has a daughter that has Cystic Fibrosis. My brother barely scrapes by on minimum wage. He literally has $250K worth of medical bills from his daughter alone. He can't afford a house, I bought him the car that he drives, and every penny of his money (and every ounce of his love) goes to making sure that his daughter is alive, safe, and cared for.

    Yes, I understand that Doctors work very hard to get where they are. I have two engineering degrees, and I am still paying those off at this point in time. I also understand the costs of finding and keeping good talent and staff. At what point do we say, "Your daughter can't live because you can't pay," or, "you can't live because you can't pay?"

    I honestly don't think that anyone has a good answer for any of this.
    • by Catbeller (118204) on Saturday January 19, 2008 @10:16PM (#22114362) Homepage
      There is of course an answer, and it has been implemented everywhere else in the western world but here. Remove the profit motive, eliminate the insurance companies, pay for doctors' education so they can't use it as an excuse to gouge, and regulate prices. It's a pain in the ass, but it beats what we have now, where millions die undertreated but never show up on the TV news. We've a disaster that is never reported by the millionaire talking heads on TV, because they will never see anyone dying in their life from lack of funds to pay millionaires holding the key to life.
  • by jackhererUK (992339) on Saturday January 19, 2008 @06:59AM (#22107494)
    I have never understood this phrase "socialized" medicine you Americans use for a tax payer funded health care system. In the US the police forces, fire services etc are funded by tax payers but you do not describe them as "socialized" police forces etc. Public schools are funded by tax payers, do you have a "socialized" education system? Here in the UK we have had tax payer funded National Health Service for over 50 years. The NHS is just considered a public service like refuse collection, fire and police service, state education etc and from my perspective it is bizarre to talk about healthcare like it is a commodity.

Some people carve careers, others chisel them.

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