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The Doctor Will See Your Credit Score Now 464

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 kamatsu ( 969795 ) on Saturday January 19, 2008 @01:38AM (#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 BrainInAJar ( 584756 ) on Saturday January 19, 2008 @03:50AM (#22106402)
    Re: price.

    Health care budget, 2005: $19bn
    Population of Canada: 33,390,000 (approx.)
    $19bn / 33,390,000 = approximately $569 / year, or $47/month.

    Average health insurance premium in the USA: $308/month.

    Still think that it's cheaper?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 19, 2008 @04:25AM (#22106590)
    Let's see, what goes into an MRI bill? Highly trained labor, electricity, rent, cost of the machine, and don't forget the cryogenics to cool the magnet which are fantastically expensive. The margins for many people running MRIs are much slimmer than you might imagine and your $300 final bill likely meant that they lost $1000 on your transaction. i.e. most routine MRIs billed for $1500 means that the profit before taxes is around $200.

  • by Soko ( 17987 ) on Saturday January 19, 2008 @04:38AM (#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.

  • by Acer500 ( 846698 ) on Saturday January 19, 2008 @07:25AM (#22107328) Journal
    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 or in severe risk, otherwise don't bother", the hospital seems to have been teleported to Iraq (they started some structural work and didn't have the money to finish it, so the entrance is covered in rubble and you have to enter through a small passageway on the side of the hospital), if you want to be seen by a specialist you have to book it anywhere from a month to three months in advance, unless the doctors (general practitioners?) determine you're likely to die or a severe threat to health from it. Oh, and you pay an extra fee for everything, too.

    Medicine is included, but you never get "brand" name stuff, everything is generics, sometimes of dubious quality (I definitely notice a decreased effect from some of the stuff I've taken, in particular I used to suffer from asthma and the generics are nowhere as effective at stopping an attack).

    Some medical procedures that seem to be common in the US are not included, dental care besides some tooth extraction is not included (everyone has lousy teeth compared to the US), and god forbid if you have to go to the "emergency" room, it takes something from 1 to 3 hours to be seen by the overworked staff, unless you actually look like you'll die on the spot. Most people (myself included) buy additional emergency services (not included in the social healthcare) which actually come in case of a non life-threatening emergency, and which you can see for all kinds of usual health-related stuff that would take all day in the mutual system (this or that hurts, my son has a fever, etc..).

    And even then, only those who work, or whose relatives work, have access to the "mutual system".. the rest goes to the "public" hospitals, which are directly state managed (the "mutual system" seems to be private, non-profit based, see [] ), and those are even worse, even though they do provide basic healthcare.

    The upside is, my hospital (with the entrance covered in rubble and all), has access to MRI, CRT and most modern equipment, and instead of being billed into oblivion, if I ever require the use of such services (if the doctors determine that - that is, very less frequently than in the US), I get to use them for a relatively small fee (most expensive procedures are about U$ 50 to U$ 100 fee).

    I really can't understand how you can say with a straight face that medical care for someone in the US can be U$ 12.000 per year, even taking into account the huge difference in salaries between here and the US. For comparison, I earn about U$ 6.000 per year after taxes ,and somehow seem to have better access to healthcare than most of you? (with all the caveats).

    I don't know how socialized medicine would work in the US, but you already have my anecdotal evidence and the Romanian's, so you can see which you would prefer.

"The one charm of marriage is that it makes a life of deception a neccessity." - Oscar Wilde