So….What About the Other 10 Million?

Monday, August 3, 2009 \PM\.\Mon\.

By this stage in the health care debates, most people are aware that roughly 47 million individuals in America do not have health insurance. And many people are further aware that the 47 million statistic is misleading, because roughly 14 million of these individuals are already eligible for (but have not enrolled in) existing government programs, 9 million have incomes over $75,000 and choose not to purchase private insurance, 3-5 million are only temporarily uninsured between jobs, and roughly 10 million do not have the legal right to reside in the country. In the end, this means roughly 10 million U.S. citizens lack meaningful access to health insurance.  It has been noted elsewhere that insuring these individuals would cost a lot less than the $1 trillion proposal currently under consideration in Congress, and further that it would not require a dramatic (and costly) restructuring of the U.S. health care system.

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Excessive Health Care Profits

Monday, August 3, 2009 \PM\.\Mon\.

In the health care reform debate, we often hear about how huge amounts of money that could be going to provide people with treatment is being sucked up by insurance company profits instead. This kind of thing always makes me wonder, since in my experience a competitive market place will usually drive profit margins down pretty low. So I thought it would be illustrative to look up how much money the top private insurance companies make, and then determine their profit margins and profits per enrollee.

The following information is publicly available on Google Finance. Revenue figures are annual ones for the year ending 12-31-2008. The total revenue, income before tax and income after tax figures come directly from each companies public financial reports. The enrollee figures are potentially slightly more approximate, since there I googled for the most recent press release which showed total enrollment for each company.

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It struck me as interesting that it was Humana, with the lowest profits per enrollee in 2008, which just posted a healthy profit increase for Q2. Wellpoint and Aetna have suffered membership declines in the last quarter.

In no case is the company making more than $100 per enrollee per year in profits. Given that most insurance plans cost a good $4000-$6000 per year, the amount of what we pay for insurance that goes to “lining insurance companies’ pockets” would seem to be fairly small.


Saint John Vianney Play To Debut In Houston

Monday, August 3, 2009 \AM\.\Mon\.

Saint John Vianney is being staged as a one-man production titled “VIANNEY” and will be debuting in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston on August 4, 2009 AD.  This is in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the death of this patron saint of parish priests.  The play will continue in other dioceses across America.

Leonardo Defilippis plays the role of Saint John Vianney as he performs at various churches across the archdiocese.  Mr. Defilippis’s one-man stage production opens amidst the chaos of the French Revolution, a time which mirrors the secularization, materialism and anti-religious sentiment of today. Against this dramatic backdrop, a simple ignorant peasant priest enters the backwater town of Ars, a place where no one cares much about their faith, or sees the Church as particularly relevant. They don’t expect much out of John Vianney.

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Catholic Health Care: Our Lady of Hope Clinic

Monday, August 3, 2009 \AM\.\Mon\.

As Catholics, and other Americans, continue the debate over national solutions to help the uninsured, Our Lady of Hope Clinic in Madison, Wisconsin is helping treat the uninsured one person at a time. Long time reader Steve Karlen is the development director for the clinic, which opened in April of this year. OLHC has a unique model, based on Dr. Kloess and Dr. Johnson’s desire to provide outstanding primary care through a structure designed in accordance with Catholic principles of solidarity and subsidiarity.

Like the increasingly popular private practice or closed practice model, OLHC accepts up to a set number of patients, which due to OLHC’s non profit model are called benefactors. The limit is set at 600, which has not yet been met, so the clinic is still accepting memberships. Benefactors receive unlimitted primary care through the clinic with no additional charges or co-pays beyond the annual benefactor fee — which is set at a 1200 dollars with various discounts which can apply for couples, children, or younger patients. (This pricing is comparable to other closed practice/concierge-style doctor’s offices.) Like a closed practice, benefactors can make same day appointments any time and have direct access to their doctors via phone and email. They are expected to carry insurance for specialist, prescription and hospital care — however benefactors can often save money overall on health care by switching to a high deductible plan for care not covered by the clinic.
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Canada Has Its Own Health Care Debate

Monday, August 3, 2009 \AM\.\Mon\.

Hattip to Ed Morrissey at Hot Air. John Stossel is an anomaly:  he is a libertarian in a profession, journalism, dominated by liberal democrats.  Here is a column he wrote which summarizes the video, which spent quite a bit of time discussing the shortcomings of Canadian health care.

The experience of Canada under national health care is intriguing.  A battle is raging over the net with opponents of ObamaCare pointing out its shortcomings and proponents rallying to the defense of  the Canadian system.  One often overlooked feature is the role of private medical clinics in Canada.   Recently such clinics have been made legal based upon a Canadian Supreme Court decision and are becoming increasingly popular.  A good article on the subject is here Here is another article on the clinics.

I found this quote from the last article linked to curious.

“It’s obviously extra billing and queue jumping,” says David Eggen, executive director of Friends of Medicare. “If this goes on unregulated, it’ll spread like wildfire and we can see it, even in a recession, starting to expand here in Alberta.”

Now why would these clinics spread like wildfire if the Canadians are as enamored of their national health care system as the proponents of ObamaCare say they are?  Here is a story from 2006 on the subject which appeared in that notorious right-wing rag The New York Times.   As we debate changing our health care system to something approaching that of the Canadian system, we should also understand that there is a debate in Canada about broadening the availability of private pay health care.