Promulgated by the insurance industry, it has become accepted that Americans want “choice” in healthcare coverage, but as today’s post makes clear, Americans do not want the kinds of “choices” offered by the current system.
Happy Holidays! Roxanne and I wish all of you a reflective, peaceful and joyous holiday season. The Retake blog will be taking a few days off beginning tomorrow. So until next year, be well and rest up for 2020. No doubt, it will be a most challenging year, one that must lead to the transformative change that is really our only path forward.
Meet & Greet Lyla June Johnston, her first campaign event: 4pm, Saturday, December 28 at the studio of Stephen Augur 1805 2nd St. This is a great opportunity to meet the candidate challenging Speaker Egolf. We welcome her candidacy as we feel it will force an ongoing debate on climate crisis issues. Please RSVP by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Another Example of Corporate Dishonesty & Greed: “My Care, My Choice” Is a False Choice Perpetrated By the Insurance Industry
For decades, Wendell Potter served as a health insurance executive and helped develop the industry speaking points around “choice” in healthcare. In his brief article, Wendell Potter Pulls Choice of Care Out of “My Care, My Choice,” Potter exposes exactly what is at play in the health insurance industry’s effort to delude America about Medicare for All and convince you that the industry is trying to safeguard your healthcare and your choices in healthcare. For millions of Americans, My Care, My Choice is the false choice between My Care, My Rent or My Care, My Heat. Read on.
As a health insurance PR guy, we knew one of the huge *vulnerabilities* of the current system was LACK of choice. In the current system, you can’t pick your own doc, specialist, or hospital without huge “out of network” bills. So we set out to muddy the issue of “choice. As industry insiders, we also knew most Americans have very little choice of their plan. Your company chooses an insurance provider and you get to pick from a few different plans offered by that one insurer, usually either a high deductible plan or a higher deductible plan “Wendell Potter Pulls Choice of Care Out of “My Care, My Choice published in Physicians for National Health Plan
Straight from the mouth of a former healthcare executive in charge of promoting their bogus product. Just as the tobacco industry knew their product killed and they lied about it; just as the auto industry knew that smog was choking Los Angeles and lied about it; just as the gas and oil industry knew for decades that their industry was causing climate change; so too, the healthcare industry knows very well that “one of the huge vulnerabilities of the current system is LACK of choice.” And so they lie about it.
The quote above reminds me of a conversation I had with my friend Bill Ayers a couple years ago. Bill was going through a dizzying stack of publications describing the “choices” he had in his healthcare. Each year, we are beset with promotional materials from a bevy of insurance providers with happy looking people, happy with their health care choices under plan A, B or C. Bill was moaning and groaning to his friend who was visiting from Canada and his friend took out his wallet and showed Bill a slim card and said: “These are my choices, one card. I choose my doctor and together we decide the care I need. And it is free.”
As soon as someone mentions Canadian healthcare, you will hear a litany of false claims: Canadians stream to the US for their care; doctors flee Canada to practice medicine in the US; you can’t get a hip replacement in Canada; there are long delays in obtaining treatment in Canada; and Canada rations health care, creating a barrier to treatment. Click here to read an excellent brief article by Aaron E. Carroll, M.D., the director of the Center for Health Policy and Professionalism Research. It was published by the American Association of Retired People (AARP). The AARP is hardly an extreme left wing organization, yet they debunk each of the myths described above about Canadian health care concluding with the following quote:
An 11-country survey carried out in 2010 by the Commonwealth Fund, a Washington-based health policy foundation, found that adults in the United States are by far the most likely to go without care because of cost. In fact, 42 percent of the Americans surveyed did not express confidence that they would be able to afford health care if seriously ill.”Source: “How Health Insurance Design Affects Access to Care and Costs, by Income, in Eleven Countries,” Health Affairs, November 2010.
The quote above strikes at the heart of the myth of the “choices” offered by our corporate-managed health care system. Our choices are far too often between going heavily in debt or going bankrupt and getting the treatment our bodies require. No one in Canada or any other country with nationalized healthcare EVER faces that kind of choice.
As Potter goes on to point out, if you have employer-based coverage, you have little to no choice in care providers or plans; you have coverage only so long as your employer continues to offer coverage or continues to employ you. Your employer and the provider they select (not you) determine your coverage, your access to care, your cost of care, your co-pays. How is this system about you choosing your care? As Potter points out:
An industry front group launched a campaign to achieve this very purpose. Its name: “My Care, My Choice.” Its job: Trick Americans into thinking they currently can choose any plan they want, and that their plan allows them to see any doctor.
This isn’t the only time the industry made “choice” a big talking point in its scheme to fight health reform. Soon after Obamacare was passed, it created a front group called the Choice and Competition Coalition, to scare states away from creating exchanges with better plan.”
The insurance industry spent tens of millions on campaigns like My Care, My Choice, campaigns explicitly intended to mislead you into thinking you have choice. And as the chart below reveals, they also spend hundreds of millions on lobbying efforts, including recently lobbying states to dissuade them from offering exchanges that would have offered you real choice. Note that the two industries that spend the most on lobbying are pharmaceuticals and insurance.
Potter concludes by saying that there is one big change in the rhetoric of choice. Democrats have now embraced the insurance industry language promoting the illusory “choice” out of a misguided effort to convince Americans that they are better off with the false choices offered by the insurance industry rather than the only plan that offers real choice: MediCare for All. Why? Guess who is one of the DNC’s largest contributors?
With one Democrat after another, including Elizabeth Warren but NOT Bernie Sanders, retreating from their support for Medicare for All, the chart above is telling. Potter closes his piece with the following:
The truth, of course, is you have little “choice” in healthcare now. Most can’t keep their plan as long as they want, or visit any doctor or hospital. Some reforms, like Medicare For All, would let you. In other words, M4A actually offers more choice than the status quo. So if a politician tells you they oppose reforming the current healthcare system because they want to preserve “choice,” either they don’t know what they’re talking about – or they’re willfully ignoring the truth. I assure you, the insurance industry is delighted either way.”
At the end of Potter’s article, a comment was offered by Dr. Don McCanne
Though the private insurance industry claims they are protecting choice in health care, they are not. They are protecting their market of private health plans in which you can choose what health care you are willing to give up by being restricted to networks that limit your choices of physicians and hospitals, limit your affordability of care through high deductibles and other cost sharing, or limit your choice to a plan offered by your employer.
The irony is that the one-size-fits-all plan – single payer Medicare for All – is the plan that does give you your choices of physicians, hospitals and other health care services and products. It is the plan that works for all whereas the My-Care-My-Choice private plans take away many of your choices in health care. ”Don McCanne, M.D. In comment at the bottom of Potter’s article.
Fortunately in NM we are working toward real healthcare reform: the Health Security Act. In 2021, we will be able to vote that system into law and begin the march to real choice in healthcare, despite industry manipulations and Democratic Party betrayals. But it will be a very rough battle here in NM. None other than our Speaker Brian Egolf, when interviewed last spring on Retake Our Democracy radio and asked about the Health Security Act, responded with industry speaking points, claiming that the HSA would cost over $15 billion or over three times the total state budget. This is an overstatement of the costs and doesn’t incorporate cost savings to accrue from the HSA. It is discouraging to hear the Speaker, whose district is the most liberal in the state, spouting insurance industry mantra. If you want to hear the Speaker do so, click here and go to 25M into the show. So it will be no easy lift here in NM.
Paul & Roxanne