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Of healthcare and dragons

August 7, 2009

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Republicans have become so terrified of health care reform that they’re relying on fairy tales to explain their counterarguments. I’m not kidding. See Senator Chuck Grassley’s baffling explanation of why we don’t want surtaxes on high-income Americans.

But what’s to fear? I think we can all agree the system is B-R-O-K-E-N. I pay $150 a month for a health insurance plan that comes with a hefty $10,000 annual deductible. That means that I have to pay $10,000 each year out of my own pocket before my plan kicks in. Since I’m a healthy person, I’m essentially paying $150 a month for nothing. Or rather I’m paying for the security of knowing that if I developed a brain tumor, some of my expenses would be paid for. Some, not all.

And I’ve got one of the cheapest plans around. Most people who aren’t covered through their employers pay $400 or $500  a month. Who can afford that, except the wealthy?

What’s odd about Grassley’s opposition to a government-run health plan is that the senator has spearheaded a movement to keep conflicts-of-interest out of medicine. I recently wrote about this for Nature Medicine. Yet, his opposition has him actively defending private insurers, an industry riddled with conflicts-of-interest. The goal of for-profit insurance companies is to get the most money from you while expending the least money on you. How does that lead to good healthcare?

The truth is it doesn’t. Read how one woman ended up with a $22,000 bill after giving birth even though she had full coverage.

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