“Profitized” Medicine

What’s the opposite of socialized medicine?  Well, profitized medicine, of course.

What is profitized medicine?  The best definition I can provide is from a book I’m presently reading entitled The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper and Fairer Health Care by T. R. Reid.

The following two paragraphs are from pages 36 and 37 of T. R. Reid’s book.

The United States is the only developed country that relies on profit-making health insurance companies to pay for essential and elective care.  About 80 percent of non-elderly Americans have health insurance; generally they get it through the job, with the employer paying part of the premium as well.  The monthly premium goes toward paying the worker’s medical bills, but the insurance firms also soak up a significant share of the premium dollar to cover the costs of marketing, underwriting, and administration, as well as their profit.  Economists agree that this is about the most expensive possible way to pay for a nation’s health care.  That’s why, as we’ll see throughout  this book, all the other developed countries have decided that basic health insurance must be a nonprofit operation.  In those countries, the insurance plans — sometimes run by government, sometimes private entities — exist only to pay people’s  medical bills, not to provide dividends for investors.

It’s revealing that, in the lingo of the U.S. health insurance industry, the money  paid to doctors, hospitals, and pharmacies for treatment of insured patients is referred to as “medical loss.”  That is,  when health insurance actually pays for somebody’s health care, the industry considers it a loss.  (Health insurance executives  explain that “loss ratio” is a technical term borrowed from the fire and casualty insurance business.)  Insurance executives,  securities analysts, and the business media carefully watch each company’s medical loss ratio to make sure that the actual medical payments don’t eat too deeply into administrative costs and profits.  According to their filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, most for-profit insurance companies maintain a medical loss ratio of about 80 percent, which is to say that 20 cents of every dollar people pay in premiums for health insurance doesn’t buy any health care.  If a health insurance company consistently spent much more than 80 percent of its money on actual health care, its stock would plummet and its CEO would be axed.  When California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed a health insurance reform law in 2007 — the plan known as ArnoldCare — he included a requirement that health insurance companies spend at least 85 cents of every premium dollar on medical bills.  Insurers denounced this proposal as socialism and killed the ArnoldCare bill before it ever came to a vote in the state senate.

A rather concise definition of profitized medicine.

I do value consistency in one’s viewpoints or positions.  I will try my best to keep this blog NON-POLITICAL; however, when it comes to money, such aspirations cannot always be achieved.

Here’s my two cents.

If you don’t want socialized medicine, I assume your children are educated at home or a private school, instead of at the socialized elementary school, middle school or high school.

My mother, a young widow with three children, placed my siblings and I in Catholic Schools.  We’ve all excelled, I guess, because we didn’t attend the socialized public schools.

For those who have served or are serving in the Armed Forces, not only are you the recipient of socialized medicine, but you (and often your dependents) are entitled to socialized legal assistance.  Veterans also are recipients of socialized medicine.  You say, no way?  Next time you speak with your military family member or friend, ask him/her about the medical bills he/she receives for medical care.  Government-employed doctors, dentists and nurses at government-owned clinics and hospitals provide medical care to military members without ever sending the active duty military member a bill.

For those of you opposed to socialized medicine I assume you only buy books or swap books with friends.  You don’t patronize the library because, well, that’s socialism.

BTW, I did borrow T. R. Reid’s book from the local library.  I guess that makes me a socialist?

Labeling people or their viewpoints is easy.  Delving into a thorny issue to understand the heart of the problem, I guess requires too much effort.  Plus, it’s a lot more fun to call one another names, point fingers and regress to kindergarten.


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