Allegedly an internal Blue Cross Blue Shield memo on Michale Moore’s “Sicko,” written by Barclay Fitzpatrick, VP of Capital BlueCross Corporate Communications [via BoingBoing]

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  1. Doc Benway says:

    So where is the smoking gun? Did I miss something?

  2. Perhaps most damaging of all, Moore completely fails to address the most significant driver of health care costs – our own lifestyle choices.- our own lifestyle choices – and seeks to focus attention and efforts on the alluring ‘quick-fix’ of universal health care. It has taken a generation of poor nutrition and exercise to get obesity and related health issues – and subsequent costs – to their current levels, and Moore’s movie fails to acknowledge the causal relationship or need to change (he briefly touches the subject in a non-memorable way).

    Way to miss the point entirely people!
    Or is this their way of justifying what goes on? “We wouldn’t have to deny everyone’s claims if y’all weren’t so fat!”

    Of course, these are the same people who spent 7 months telling my doctors I didn’t have coverage at all.

    BTW, how is poor nutrition and exercise responsible for what happened to the 18 month old (under Further Notes)?

  3. RichAndFoolish says:

    If that is an authentic memo, then Blue Cross is in trouble.

    The memo is not a particularly effective response to a skilled fifth-columnist.

    It’s a shame that the forces of evil are so much better story tellers.

  4. uricmu says:

    I loved the BS about “being a nonprofit”. The whole Nonprofit healthcare is a scam, allowing these companies to expand like crazy, eliminate competition while paying no taxes, and then go public.

    In Pittsburgh, for example, there is the “University of Pittsburgh Medical Center” which continuously buys every hospital in the region. They spend millions on advertising, and most of their services are provided by private for-profit doctor offices. They just bought the 27y/o mayor an expensive celebrity golfing package to grease the wheels a little.

    Similarly, the local BCBS company is trying to take over all the healthcare insurance in the state, so there will be no competition.

    There should be a law by which a company that started as a nonprofit can never go for-profit or public, should not advertise, and should not pay a fortune for lobbyists.

  5. MercuryPDX says:

    Sicko was such a disappointment that I’m glad I was able to watch it for free from the internet.

    The movie is as the memo describes: A vague attempt to promote universal health care(UHC) as the be all end all to US health care problems.

    Moore selected specific cases to show the WORST of HMO’s and the BEST of the UHCs overseas and to the north. Taken solely at face value you would agree with Moore, but even the slightest bit of Googling will show you that he painted with quite the broad (and in the HMO’s case, most unflattering) brush strokes.

  6. spanky says:

    @MercuryPDX:

    I didn’t learn much of anything new from SiCKO. I already followed news stories about things like BC/BS’s illegal retroactive reviews in California (which is only an issue because they happen to be illegal in California). I’m familiar with the studies that show that medical costs are one of the strongest predictors for bankruptcy. I live with a semi-retired PI lawyer, so I know that the majority of damages sought in personal injury lawsuits are attempting to recover exhorbitant medical costs. Hell, Kaiser Permanente made me drive my bleeding, injured child about thirty miles across town once, his ear hanging by a little flap of skin and tissue, his face torn wide open, because the local facility didn’t have the resources to treat him. Pretty similar experience to the dead little girl, except my son is still alive despite Kaiser’s best efforts.

    But for people who haven’t dealt with it personally or watched as friends and family are saddled with crippling medical bills, killed by lifetime caps, or left to get sicker and sicker while insurance companies try to evade their responsibilities, good on Moore for making the story compelling and human enough that his movie is showing in big suburban multiplexes, where people can see it, talk about it, and go home and research the subject.

  7. Xerloq says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation:I agree that our lifestyle choices are partly to blame.

    I do believe the health care system is borked, but a government run universal health care system is not the resolution. Going to the doctor’s is already too much like the DMV, we don’t actually need it to be run by the same entity.

  8. goodkitty says:

    I still love when I go in for anything medical (or dental) and get a whopping bill, then when I complain that I don’t have insurance, suddenly it magically gets dropped to 30% of what the original quote was. Part of the scam here isn’t just big bad HMOs, but the hospitals and doctors that routinely bilk insurance companies for every dime they can.

  9. spanky says:

    @goodkitty:
    Why do you assume that the insurance companies are being overcharged? Your experience is certainly not typical, as far as I’m aware. What leads you to believe that the doctors are actually overcharging the insurance companies, rather than taking pity on you and undercharging you accordingly?

    And how is it that you’re being handed these giant bills and they don’t already know you’re uninsured? Every place I’ve ever been asks for that information beforehand.

  10. swalve says:

    Health care does indeed have multiple prices. Go have a heart attack or an EVAR repair, and when the bill comes it’ll be something like $60,000. Then you’ll see a “settlement amount” from your insurance company for something like $14,000. Then there will be a line for a “writeoff amount” for $40,000, and you’ll finally owe $6,000.

    Or thereabouts. These examples taken from recent actual events where I actually saw the bill.

    So when the hospital gives you a 30% break, they’re probably still making more money off of you. The lower prices are justified because the insurance company is a volume buyer and contracts with the providers to provide service at the lower rates.

  11. galatae says:

    There are so many things wrong on both sides of this argument I wouldn’t know where to start. I don’t think UHC is the answer since I know multiple Canadians who go to NY for procedures they’ve been wait listed for in Canada. If UHC is so great, why bother?

    But the Blues are way out of line here. They just settled with doctors in SC because of prompt pay issues. Basically they don’t pay you bills either.

    Medicare only pays $7 per visit on $150 bill, and the large insurers base their pay rates on Medicare. Then they don’t pay for months because they’re “reviewing claims.” It’s a wonder anyone becomes a doctor anymore.

    I personally know of an experience with BCBS in VA where the patient was self-insured female over 50, and they were charging her $2,000/month to maintain insurance, but wouldn’t pay any medical bills for preventative care. I guess this is how they ‘ensure access’.

    PS @SWALVE Depends on the hospital. I don’t know too many in America who are making money right now, unless they’re doing elective surgeries.

  12. Youthier says:

    @goodkitty: I do know a doctor who does this but not in any effort to bilk the insurance companies – he honestly does it to allow people who have no insurance or lost insurance (unemployment has increased locally) affordable health care.

    The current healthcare system isn’t working but I don’t think UHC would work much better. Isn’t there something inbetween that could?

  13. kelmeister says:

    @galatae:

    I’ve had the same two experiences mentioned in your post.

    1) This month, I received notice that a bill from my dentist had been sent to collections because the insurance company was still reviewing the bill. I ended up paying it out-of-pocket.

    2) I had my first physical last month. As I was signing in, I was given a paper to sign: I am financially responsible for the tests administered during my physical, as insurance doesn’t cover those tests. I laughed when reading in that memo BCBS’s desire to focus on “preventative medicine,” when my insurance isn’t even willing to cover a basic physical. I can’t wait to see what the bill ends up being for that.