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We already knew it was a morass of regulation, but Goodman here makes the excellent point that the private insurers implement much of the government health care “system” today … here is one excerpt:

In both cases, the underlying premise is that there is some fundamental difference between public and private health insurance. This is a belief widely held both on the left and the right of the political spectrum. It is a belief that is wrong.

One source of the error is the mistaken idea that Medicare and Medicaid are actually run by the government. They aren’t. Medicare in the United States is managed almost everywhere by BlueCross, Humana, WellPoint and other private contractors. These, of course, are the same entities that manage private health insurance. Much of Medicaid is privately managed as well. Furthermore, one out of every four Medicare enrollees and two of every three Medicaid enrollees are enrolled in private health plans, even though government is paying the bill. Moreover, in the rest of the health care system, private insurers pay providers the same way that the government pays. They use the same billing codes and pay for the same services the same way.

In general, private insurance in the United States is so heavily regulated that it bears no relationship to what we would find in a free marketplace. Indeed, what we call private insurance in this country is little more than private-sector socialism.

That leads us to the other mistake that is made at both ends of the political spectrum: the belief that other health care systems are radically different from our own. They aren’t.

I thought that was obvious, but it’s not. But that’s because the entire “debate” is a food-fight, not really a debate.

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3 Responses to “Neither You Nor I Have Private Health Insurance”

  1. Speedmaster says:

    I agree. The entire healthcare industry is so warped and distorted at every level it’s almost beyond belief.

  2. Harry says:

    Right on, WC.

    There are a few small pockets where people are allowed to pay their doctor for service directly, which I did with one doctor who would not accept my cheap HMO, and before I got Medicare and my Cadillac supplemental policy. I paid him $45 non-underground economy money to look at my feet for ten minutes or so, which I thought was a bargain, since he has to pay his nurses and administrators out of that, plus the rent and other overhead out of that, too.

    Think about what Tim Geithner would charge for ten minutes of stupidity and wrong information when he starts up a Park Avenue boutique selling BS after he drops the hot irons of SecTreas.

    This should be the business of the Equal Pay for Equal Work Czar, to be created soon.

  3. jb says:

    Get this, I am President of a small company. Two days ago our HR person said we have to decide within the next few days whether we will change our health insurance carrier (there are only 3-4 in Mass to choose from but we try to get quotes every year). These plans are difficult to fathom and a good anlaysis takes time (HMOs with HRA vs high deductible with HSA, PPO, etc.) I asked about the sudden rush for a decision. She said federal law requires employers be allowed 60 days to review offers. But in the wonderful state of Massachusetts the state did not get around to approving rates for these firms until a week or so ago (late November). Is Obama going to take Deval to the woodshed for this? I somehow doubt it.

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