Zera's Blog

A Citizen's View from Main Street

Internal Medicine Doctors: Fewer Go Into Field, New Research Shows



The economics of medicine and health care are leading it toward failure from the perspectiv­e of the average consumer/p­atient. Rural medicine was only the first victim.

The high cost of a medical education all too often leaves more debt than a general practice could reasonably pay off, driving doctors to more lucrative specialtie­s.

The present system is no longer viable. Rural medicine, general practice, family practice, geriatrics­, whole areas of medicine are in decline due to the present financial structure.

Slowing the growth of health insurance premiums was only the first step in health care reform.

  • We need to cut down on defensive medicine.
  • We need to find ways to bring down the cost of malpractice insurance.
  • We need to get politics out of the doctor’s office.
  • We need to get the church out of the doctor’s office.
  • We need to get drug salesmen out of the doctor’s office – there are better ways to disseminate new drug information, ways that do not manipulate what doctors prescribe.
  • We need standardized electronic medical records – and very simple, intuitive ways to generate, maintain, distribute, and use them.

The GOP plan to privatize Medicare does none of that. Their voucher subsidy price support plan literally and figuratively passes the buck and doubles down on the very system that is failing.

We may have to redesign how we handle malpractice cases where punitive damages are currently awarded. There seems to be a number of situations where monetary penalties are not working, possibly because it is too easy to pass the cost on to others.

Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

April 28, 2011 Posted by | Capitalism, Economics, Health Care | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

U.S. Pays As Prudential Invests Troop Death Benefits


I saw this on broadcast news weeks ago. This story has a bit more background, but – Déjà vu.

The patriotism of the citizen soldier has been reduced to a profit center.

This country has lost it’s way. Citizenship has been reduced to a legal status. Communities have become virtual. For too many, the national motto has become: “In Gold We Trust”. or “Caveat Emptor.” We only partially speak the same language, using conflicting definitions at every turn.

When the Colonies broke away from British rule, we subtly changed the world. When we entered, WWII, we dramatically changed the world. But now, we have lost the grand uniting challenge. Our national character is beginning to reflect the character of our corporations, and that is a sad thing indeed. What is a nation of artificial persons, if not an unfeeling business model?

Do we send our sons and daughters to fight for the right to be bilked and defrauded by corporations? Or do we send them in harm’s way to defend the lives and rights and property of living citizens?

For too long, we have been devolving into a nation of plantation owners and carpetbaggers. The biggest buggy-whip economy in the world.

We are a nation divided. Divided by ideology, by purpose, by principle. Our national identity has become senile. We need to take a cold, hard look at who we want to be, and how we can realistically achieve it. Together. E pluribus Unum.

(Too over-the-top?)

After a service member dies in combat – including the more than 4,000 who have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan – the Department of Veterans Affairs sends Prudential the full amount of each family’s life insurance coverage, usually $400,000.

Ninety-five percent of survivors paid by Prudential ask for lump-sum payments, the VA says. Since 1999, the company has sent out more than 60,000 Alliance Account checkbooks, instead of checks, covering more than $7 billion in death benefits when families asked for full payouts.

Prudential assumes the vast majority of mortality risk for the participants,” he says. “We also assume all of the investment risk.” He declined to elaborate on what the company’s insurance and investment risks are.
U.S. pays as Prudential invests troop death benefits

The problem is that this is not insurance. This is bookkeeping. This is the government outsourcing the payment of benefits to a company that is refusing to honor lump-sum payment requests so they can profit from holding other people’s money.

Terminate the contract. Open it to competitive bidding. Better yet, let the VA handle it. They have the greatest interest in doing it right.

Fraud and abuse like this is why the private sector needs regulation and oversight. It also shows why the government needs transparency, and the country needs a free press.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

‘After a service member dies in combat – including the more than 4,000 who have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan – the Department of Veterans Affairs sends Prudential the full amount of each family’s life insurance coverage, usually $400,000.’

‘Ninety-five percent of survivors paid by Prudential ask for lump-sum payments, the VA says. Since 1999, the company has sent out more than 60,000 Alliance Account checkbooks, instead of checks, covering more than $7 billion in death benefits when families asked for full payouts.’

‘”Prudential assumes the vast majority of mortality risk for the participants,” he says. “We also assume all of the investment risk.” He declined to elaborate on what the company’s insurance and investment risks are.’

The problem is that this is not insurance. This is bookkeeping. This is the government outsourcing the payment of benefits to a company that is refusing to honor lump-sum payment requests so they can profit from holding other people’s money.

Terminate the contract. Open it to competative bidding. Better yet, let the VA handle it. They have the greatest interest in doing it right.

Fraud and abuse like this is why the private sector needs regulation and oversight. It also shows why the government needs transparency, and the country needs a free press.

October 4, 2010 Posted by | Capitalism, Economics | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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