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PBS Frontline: Sick Around America
Old 03-31-2009, 08:02 PM   #1
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PBS Frontline: Sick Around America

This program, about how health insurance or the lack of it, rules our lives is on PBS Frontline tonight. I know this topic has been discussed over and over on this forum but I think it's worth bringing it up again since I've noticed that newcomers are still asking the same questions about getting individual health insurance once they ER.

Others who think they are insured but who are actually underinsured due to many exclusions (myself included) may also be interested.

If you miss it on PBS, you can watch it here too:
FRONTLINE: sick around america | PBS
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Old 03-31-2009, 09:20 PM   #2
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Yea,

Health insurance is a biggie. Thanks for the tip.

Free
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Old 04-01-2009, 08:15 AM   #3
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Oldbabe,

Thanks for pointing this out. "Frontline" is a wonderful documentary series, I'm tremendously interested in most of their pieces, and I'll be sure to watch this as well.

Tom
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Old 04-01-2009, 09:39 AM   #4
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I saw the Frontline on national debt recently. Very well done.
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Old 04-01-2009, 03:40 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post
I saw the Frontline on national debt recently. Very well done.
Yes, that was a very illuminating (and frightening) one! That's the mixed blessing of Frontline, well done documentaries that educate and frighten!
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Old 04-04-2009, 03:07 PM   #6
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Thanks for providing the link, Oldbabe. That was the best documentary on healthcare that I have seen. It clearly illustrated, in a thoughtful and non-hysterical way, the problems with our healthcare system and the tradeoffs involved in reaching a solution.
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Old 04-06-2009, 01:50 PM   #7
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Tom Hartman discussed this PBS show today. The originator of much of the content dissociated himself from the show when, according to Hartman, PBS caved into corporate sponsors and deviates from his basic premise -- health insurance companies should be regulated non-profit corporations.
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Old 04-06-2009, 05:47 PM   #8
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I felt doomed watching the show. Government mandated universal healthcare systems in some states like MA do not seem to be working all that well. Yet, many modernized countries are doing it and doing it OK. The only way to make it work for the US I could gather was to cap the amount of money Dr's and hospitals can charge for treatments. I read somewhere that average surgeons in the US get paid several times more than surgeons in Japan. If you call that socializing healthcare, well, maybe that is what needed to fix the healthcare system. Someone must step in and do something major here.

I just found this article.
Doctor Incomes in Japan at MDsalaries - The Physician Salaries Blog
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Old 04-06-2009, 09:30 PM   #9
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Tom Hartman discussed this PBS show today. The originator of much of the content dissociated himself from the show when, according to Hartman, PBS caved into corporate sponsors and deviates from his basic premise -- health insurance companies should be regulated non-profit corporations.
Yes, that is too bad, but the Frontline episode on Sick Around The World did mention that in Germany, insurance companies are non-profits.

Our health care system is really a mess. It's there as long as you not too sick to work. I had a coworker dying of cancer show up at work 2 months before he kicked the bucket. That's sick.
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Old 04-06-2009, 11:07 PM   #10
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A lot of talk about "non profit". The profit margins don't look that high.

Managed Care Matters

TheStreet.com Announces Profit Margin on Medicare Business Up in 2006 as Commercial Business Declines | Business Wire | Find Articles at BNET

But it always interests me when a solution for an issue jump to extremes.
On this board we all understand (or should) budgets and the decision making process to allocate how we spend our money. Why then do we not question why people complain about health insurance cost and don't question why they don't have it?

My guess is that they allocate their funds to other things before health ins. This is not the only insurance that is low on the list - look at uninsured motorist - 12+% - similar to health insurance.
Uninsured Drivers Increasing; Vary by State; Miss. Highest, Maine Lowest

90% of USA homes have either cable or satellite TV

WikiAnswers - What percent of American households have cable or satellite tv I ask because it strikes me as odd that all the debates are only on cable..

Average U.S. Home Now Receives a Record 118.6 TV Channels | Nielsen Media Research

Why are there no discussions about housing costs, rental profit margins, reducing that cost or comparing the cost with other nations?

I think there are other avenues to explore before going to the extremes presented to us by the government or the media. Things like:
Tort reform
Eliminate all taxes on the medical industry - except related to personnel
Reduce Fraud
Reduce transaction costs
I don't expect any of these or other things to be explored - too complicated for politicians to explain and the media to understand.

This issue is only going to get worse as medical advances provide us with better diagnostics, cures and prolong our lives.

Our next major issue with be when to allow a person to die with dignity.
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Old 04-09-2009, 08:46 PM   #11
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[quote=dex;804588]
My guess is that they allocate their funds to other things before health ins. This is not the only insurance that is low on the list - look at uninsured motorist - 12+% - similar to health insurance.
Uninsured Drivers Increasing; Vary by State; Miss. Highest, Maine Lowest

90% of USA homes have either cable or satellite TV

WikiAnswers - What percent of American households have cable or satellite tv I ask because it strikes me as odd that all the debates are only on cable..

Average U.S. Home Now Receives a Record 118.6 TV Channels | Nielsen Media Research

Why are there no discussions about housing costs, rental profit margins, reducing that cost or comparing the cost with other nations?

[quote]

But cable TV costs about $60/month and car insurance about the same, except for young people. Both are easy to obtain in contrast to health insurance. The real problem with health insurance in our country is that, for example, the exclusions leave the insured person at great risk or uninsurable. High risk pools have limited maximums and high premiums.

And for a lot of people with health insurance saving up the amount of money they might need to pay the co-payments if they have a serious major illness or accident is beyond their capability. Also most policies have a one million lifetime limit. A major illness or accident can eat that up in no time. So they end up bankrupt.
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Old 04-09-2009, 09:02 PM   #12
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Aren't medical schools actively discouraging the licensing of additional medical schools? The short supply of doctors could be alleviated somewhat with more medical schools. Obviously, there is an upper bound on the number of doctors as everyone is not cut out to be a doctor, and eventually the lower pay due to more abundant supply of doctors will limit the desirability of that professional compared to other professions.

Dex, I don't think anyone in the thread is leaping to the conclusion that a government-run medical system is the solution, but I believe that we're in agreement that the current system is not working optimally. The fact that health insurance companies have low profit margin could be due to a) medical costs or b) administrative expense. We do hear that the administrative expense eat up 20% of U.S. healthcare expenditure while that of other countries is around 10%.

I do agree that people, given a choice, would wait to buy medical insurance only when they need it. This is does not help lower premiums wether we are under the current system or going toward a system that offers universal coverage. You can't have universal coverage without universal payment. That defeats the purpose of shared risk. The thing is, the present system doesn't offer any incentives for people to buy insurance.
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Old 04-09-2009, 09:05 PM   #13
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[quote=Oldbabe;805762][quote=dex;804588]
My guess is that they allocate their funds to other things before health ins. This is not the only insurance that is low on the list - look at uninsured motorist - 12+% - similar to health insurance.
Uninsured Drivers Increasing; Vary by State; Miss. Highest, Maine Lowest

90% of USA homes have either cable or satellite TV

WikiAnswers - What percent of American households have cable or satellite tv I ask because it strikes me as odd that all the debates are only on cable..

Average U.S. Home Now Receives a Record 118.6 TV Channels | Nielsen Media Research

Why are there no discussions about housing costs, rental profit margins, reducing that cost or comparing the cost with other nations?

Quote:

But cable TV costs about $60/month and car insurance about the same, except for young people. Both are easy to obtain in contrast to health insurance. The real problem with health insurance in our country is that, for example, the exclusions leave the insured person at great risk or uninsurable. High risk pools have limited maximums and high premiums.

And for a lot of people with health insurance saving up the amount of money they might need to pay the co-payments if they have a serious major illness or accident is beyond their capability. Also most policies have a one million lifetime limit. A major illness or accident can eat that up in no time. So they end up bankrupt.
The key point is this:
"My guess is that they allocate their funds to other things before health ins."
It isn't so much the cost of car ins, cable tv or housing. It is that maybe health ins. isn't high on the list or is crowded out by other choices.

This is similar to the idea of "paying yourself first" If you pay yourself first then the remaining funds are allocate to your other expense line items. The reverse is that people pay all there other expense line items and then "pay themselves last", if there is anything remaining.
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