Saturday, May 29, 2010

Dose of Reality: Obamacare

April's Dose of Reality is a discussion of the 900-page Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which may, says Davis, actually do some good.
Anyone aware of the control that the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries exert over Congress should not be surprised that the new law does good things for these industries, and very little that may harm their profitability right away. The surprise (for me at least) is that the new law actually does do some good for the public—and in ways that might and should eventually lead to the demise of the for-profit health insurance industry and the continuing obscene profits of the pharmaceutical industry.
The act allows for self-insuring, although it does not include a public option, unfortunately. Health care cooperatives already exist, and this bill may strengthen them by providing an option that costs less. (Obamacare doesn't do much to reduce health care costs, alas--some, but not much.) Neil uses the example of the Seattle-based Group Health Cooperative. The more people who join health care cooperatives, the stronger they will become. And cooperatives, unlike insurance companies, exist to benefit their members. (Insurance companies, you recall, exist to make a profit for their investors.)

Friday, May 28, 2010

Dose of Reality: ACHIA's a bad deal unless you're desperate

In the March 2010 Dose of Reality, Davis takes on ACHIA and the sudden spate of cheery ads and announcements publicizing Alaska's Comprehensive Health Insurance Association:
These ads stress the idea that every Alaskan already has the ability to buy health insurance. Why do you suppose that is? Could it be that the ads are a propaganda ploy trying to promote the idea that we don’t really need health care reform just because it promises that everyone will be able to get insurance despite pre-existing conditions? Also, we might ask, why are so few Alaskans enrolled in the ACHIA program?
Davis tackled the ACHIA program in an earlier article, too, in February 2009, describing how the program works.

Dose of Reality: We Haven't Hit Bottom Yet

In the February Dose of Reality, Neil Davis writes:
Back in the 1950s before Alaska achieved statehood, my father was assistant director of the Fairbanks federal prison and then director of the Nome federal prison. In those capacities he saw many people with problems that they sometimes surmounted but often did not. That experience led him to believe that a person headed downward had to hit a floor before bouncing back upward to put his life back in order. I recall him saying of one of his prisoners, “That guy has not hit bottom yet; his life will get worse until he gets there, then maybe he can rebound up to where he can live a decent life.”

It seems to me that this is where the American public now is on health care reform: things are bad but they are going to have to get a lot worse before the public finally rebels against the insane for-profit health care system that it has allowed to come into existence.
Davis provides a few grim statistics to show just how bad health care in this country really is—and worse, how bad the trends in heath care have become, relating to bankruptcies, child mortality, poverty, and CEO salaries.