MedFICO In Development, It's FICO For Patients!

From the folks that brought you the credit score system in all it’s glory, here’s MedFICO! It’s a new business project underway with the goal of assessing patient’s ability to pay their medical bills. The system would gather patient’s bill payment history from hospitals around the country and then assign patients a score similar to a credit score. Critics are worried if the same problems with people getting erroneous information in their credit report and then having an insanely difficult time cleaning it up would also affect MedFICO. They also worry whether hospitals would use MedFICO to determine the level of care offered, like whether the person gets a hospital stay or not. FICO scores are now being used by some employers to screen out potential employees, would they use MedFICO to see who might take a bigger chunk out of the health benefits?

The Doctor Will See Your Credit Now [The Red Tape Chronicles]
Medical industry plans to rate payment history [Chicago Tribune]
(Photo: yosoyjulito)

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  1. miburo says:

    Wow, I would call this one of the worst ideas ever and move me from my stance against socialized health care. If someone needs medical care would you want the hospital to judge their willingness to give you the best they have because of a credit type rating? Give me a break

  2. HRHKingFriday says:

    Wow. Its days like this that I start seriously thinking about moving to Canada, or some remote Carribean island.

    I see how hospitals that are strapped for cash would want something like this, but at some point they’ll find out that most of the people going to those hospitals can’t pay their bills. And then what? Deny care to everyone who doesn’t have insurance and can’t pay 100 dollars for a freakin bandaid?

  3. RandoX says:

    You don’t have good credit so you don’t get hired someplace where you can get health insurance. If you get hurt without insurance, you can’t afford to pay off your medical bills, preventing you from getting that good job with health insurance…

  4. Pithlit says:

    Canada, here I come. This is awful.

  5. mindshadow says:

    Wow, I can’t even begin to describe how fucked up that is.

    “Sorry ma’am, your credit is poor, so you’ll have to deal with that easily treated infection yourself.”

    I’m going to go ahead and start getting used to enjoying hockey and cold weather.

  6. bohemian says:

    The government needs to crack down on Fair Issac already. They have more control over people’s lives and are totally unregulated. This is just too far over the line.

    Of course this will be used to determine care. If your seriously ill or have a chronic condition your going to probably have some issues even if you have insurance, keeping up with bills. So the people that probably need care the most won’t get it. People that are healthier and more able to pay their few and far between medical bills will get all the unneeded care they want.

    Employers will use it too and nobody with a chronic condition or a past major medical situation will be able to get a job. Since they will probably be able to see WHO you owe money to they will be able to guess at what kind of problems you might have. If there is a bill from a mental health provider you could be blacklisted even if your condition was something that is irrelevant. Anyone seeing an oncologist would get blacklisted. Nobody wants a cancer risk on the payroll.

    Someone smart should be able to find a way to stop this as a HIPPA violation. Showing who you received care from gives away a portion of your medical history that is supposed to be private.

  7. MeOhMy says:

    I try not to be a conspiracy theorist, but this is *TOTALLY* a ploy by the far-left to get moderates on board with socialized healthcare

  8. bohemian says:

    This right here is a damn good reason for national health insurance. This medFico would be rendered obsolete.

  9. bohemian says:

    @Troy F.: Ha! It must be working on me already.

  10. stacy75 says:

    Wow, the level of fucked-upedness in that story is stunning.

  11. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    Someone smart should be able to find a way to stop this as a HIPPA violation.

    @bohemian: Please, please, please!

  12. CumaeanSibyl says:

    What’s the point of this? You can’t turn someone away from the ER if s/he needs treatment, regardless of ability to pay, and I’m pretty sure that ERs see a whole lot of patients who can’t pay. Therefore, in one of the primary situations where one might encounter patients who can’t afford treatment, the rating system to determine that ability is completely worthless. Good game, guys.

  13. mindshadow says:

    Oh, and I would also like to take a moment to relate my story about the medical industry.

    My mother was 60 when she was suddenly stricken with and pretty much crippled by rheumatoid arthritis. She’d always had a bit of arthritis, but this all set in within a month. So after that happened she was unable to work. Fortunately her company she was working for was in the business of apartment management, so she wasn’t homeless as they let her do their month end stuff for them in exchange for a place to live. However, after years of having health insurance, saving up for retirement, and paying for life insurance, all of that was suddenly gone. And she was a single parent (father passed when I was 8) so she didn’t really have the income to put aside a lot for an emergency fund or to have a big savings account. As far as medicare she was about a year or so from qualifiying, and on top of that she would have had to take a $100 pay cut from her SSI disability AND would have to pay something like $200/mo for medicare.

    Long story short she could only go to the doctor or afford her medicines every now and then (heart medicine, lortab 10, and rheumatoid arthritis medicine is very expensive, as well as the specialists). She ended up pretty much confined to her chair in the living room and, with help, the bed. She passed November of ’06 because her heart gave out due to not being able to afford heart medicine or to see a doctor.

    And *this* is why I’m a big fan of socialized medicine. It’s easy to say, “Oh well people without health insurance are lazy and don’t deserve it because they work a crap job,” but it’s easy to lose health insurance and end up on the other side of the fence. And nobody should have to go without medical care just so some people can make money. That’s just fucking sick to make a profit (a rather nice one at that) at the expense of other people’s well-being.

  14. Parting says:

    Thank God I live in Canada.

    Why USA is the only industrialized country in the world that does NOT have universal coverage? (And universal coverage doesn’t mean no private healthcare, it’s just means everybody has a safety net for health spendings.)

  15. Parting says:

    @Troy F.: Now you sound like the far left ”conspiracist” :)

  16. Pithlit says:

    This might put an end to the days of group health insurance where every employee pays the same rate. Having a job with a good health plan won’t mean much if you are priced out if it due to your “medfico” score. There’s just all kinds of fucked up about this.

  17. Dawnrazor says:

    A doctor chiming in here-this is perhaps the worst proposal I have yet seen in terms of health care funding. The potential negative consequences go far beyond simply being at higher risk to be rejected as a patient, and I can envision many ways in which this plan will lead to very difficult ethical quandries for physicians and other providers. Doctors and patients must speak out with one voice against proposals such as this, which add no value to the quality of care and only lead to additional difficulties for both parties.

  18. tinmanx says:

    @CumaeanSibyl: They can’t turn anyone away, but they don’t have to treat those with a bad MedFICO score in timely fashion either. Haven’t you heard of people dying in the ER while waiting?

  19. Consumerist Moderator - ACAMBRAS says:

    But will they stamp “DIFFICULT” across my chart a la Elaine Benes?

  20. misstic says:

    Welcome to Managed Care. This is just a preview of what Universal Care will look like. You cannot possibly manage a finite resource like healthcare when the demand is infinite. Go look at the U.K. to see what a sorry mess the NHS is in.

  21. Pithlit says:

    @misstic: Really? Point to the countries with some form of UHC that assign their citizens a score that determines the level of health care, if any, that they receive. Because that’s exactly what will happen if this MedFico business is allowed to happen.

  22. pastabatman says:

    @Troy F.: Your attempts have failed. You are now a conspiracy theorist.

    The main problem here is that it specifically targets pretty much only the sick (or post-sick), the poor, and of course, the uninsured.

    It also sorta implies that the only way to even GET a score is to have been sick/hurt etc in the past. Why would my med-fico score be low or even exist if i’ve never had a reason to rack up a medical bill?

    It also targets an area of ‘business’ where the ‘customer’ has no choice. meaning we all agree that we don’t have sympathy for the person with a low FICO score that got in over his head buying stupid luxury items, yeah?

    How is setting a broken leg a luxury item? How is removing a busted appendix (sp?) a luxury?

    The ‘Consumer’ in this situation has no choice. If they do not have the funds even if they DO have health insurance, they are penalized for a financial situation that they could not help but create.

  23. FMulder says:

    @mindshadow: To say I am sorry about your mom sounds too superficial, but I really am. I didn’t have to know her to wish that healthcare were available to her as she needed. I don’t mind having to pay more if that is where the money goes. She was a fellow citizen, a fellow human being, and I want no less for her than for members of my own family and friend circle.

    As voters + citizens we need to push our government to stop bailing out private and corrupt corporations, funding useless ‘pork’ spending, and other waste, and devote that money to universal healthcare.

    Rather the follow Britney (and others) around, perhaps the media needs to devote some time to challenging the American value that some people (corporations, rich) are worth excess government spending, whereas making sure all people, regardless of income, race, education, location, etc. have the best healthcare available?

    Certainly hospitals treat patients differently based on how they can pay for their care. The quicker they can tell this, the quicker they can implement the unequal treatment. It is disgusting that ability to pay is a factor at all beyond being a side-note to be handled.

    For all of us, we should add one more belated New Year’s resolution — to press our government for a healthcare system that CARES for the health of all of our people.

  24. ARP says:

    Troy F- ah yes the “far left.” Fox News watchers are so easy to spot. Fox News labels all democrats and some moderates as “far left” in an attempt to shift what “moderate” means. So anything left of Mussolini is a “far left.”

    The average of few polls (ABC, CNN, etc.) is that around 60% of people want some sort of national health care. So are you suggesting a fairly significant majority of Americans are “far left?”

    It’s funny, we accept “socialized” fire departments, police departments, and other services because we think they’re vital (FYI- there’s used to be private fire departments, they’d only put out the fire at your house if you paid that company the annual fee). So, I don’t get why health care isn’t vital.

  25. theblackdog says:

    Bad bad bad all around. I can just see them throwing your score in the toilet because your insurance company refuses to pay for an ER visit due to “going out of the network” or whatever BS reason they’ll come up with, and you can barely afford to make payments to the bill.

    Then your insurance raises your rates through the roof because they look at your medFICO and see that whoops, your score dropped, that means you’re a deadbeat! So you lose your insurance, are stuck with a hospital bill that you may never pay off for years, and if you get sick again, you’re even further in the hole.

  26. juri squared says:

    This is so amazingly low. People can, for the most part, control their FICO score. People cannot control what medical treatment they need.

    Besides, can’t care providers already ding your regular FICO if you don’t pay? What possible reason is there to have a separate score, other than to treat equal human beings unequally?

  27. Tom Mark says:

    In the Medical FICO future:

    “Sorry sir, you’ll just have to deal with the pain, your Patient Score is under 600″
    “You won’t pay us, sooooo, could you go sit on the curb so other people can get medical attention? Okay, thanks!”

  28. Kevin Cotter says:

    @mindshadow:

    My wife works as a physician and has no shortage of people who cannot afford all their drugs. When one government plan fails, there’s always another one to fill in the gap. When the fed fails, the state and county are there to pick up slack. It requires work researching all the programs.

    Doctors can certainly help. They have no shortage of free samples.

    The drug companies don’t need more congressional investigations. They frequently help out with free and discounted drugs for the truly indigent. When the drug companies try to buy my wife and partners lunch, they ask them to sponsor a patient instead.

    I’m not sure if I believe the details of your story. I also wonder why YOU didn’t help her out with prescription money if it was a matter of life and death. I’d get another job to pay prescriptions if it meant my parents lives.

  29. timmus says:

    Bring it on, health care bastards! The only hope for health care in this country is for the industry to totally alienate, marginalize, and screw over enough people to where there’s an outcry for reform. I’m damn serious.

    I’m looking forward to the talk radio pundits ramping up their slant on MedFICO as a matter of personal responsibility, and citing the “lardasses” and burger culture, while brushing aside cancer, genetic ailments, and so forth.

    I think when my wife finds out about this she’s going to be pushing for us to dust off our plans to sell our house and move out of this country.

  30. Kevin Cotter says:

    @tinmanx:

    The order in which people are seen in the ER is by triage. Typically there is a strong Charge Nurse running triage (a nurse who earns salary, and wouldn’t give a shit about ability to pay).

    Mistakes and accidents are still made, humans work in medicine! The current thinking is to sue the shit out of them all (and deter any young people from medicine).

    I still don’t like this idea of a MedFICO!

  31. Kevin Cotter says:

    @ARP:

    You miss the article about the house in Alaska what was 180 yards past the border. The fire trucks were turned back because they didn’t pay the right taxes. The was public fire service.

  32. youbastid says:

    @Troy F.: GRUDNOWSKI, THOMAS G. MR. (FAIR ISAAC CORPORATION/C.E.O.), (Zip code: 55331) $2000 to BUSH-CHENEY ’04 (PRIMARY) INC. on 12/03/03

    You have got to be kidding me, dude. Pretty much any time the rights of citizens go down the shitter, you can blame it on a right wing “conspiracy,” not the left. Get off the Fox News for a few days.

    This is 100% “New World Order” type material.

  33. rachaeljean says:

    OMG, this was *totally* a Star Trek episode. Voyager, I think. HAHAHAHAHHA!

    I laugh, because it’s so scary and sad… you gotta laugh.

  34. youbastid says:

    @Kevin Cotter: So one event happens at the end of the earth in the middle of nowhere, and that’s supposed to be damning evidence of how socialized public services don’t work?

  35. ihateauditions says:

    This is yet another sign that the health care system, as it exists today, is completely broken.

    At this point I would love if the states would start experimenting with different forms of universal health care, so perhaps we find a better system and move away from this expensive monstrosity.

    As it stands we spend more than double per patient than any other first-world nation, but by all measures, our outcomes are (at best) average. What a fucking waste.

  36. MeOhMy says:

    @ARP: @youbastid:

    You partisan loons are a hoot! I never watch Fox News so apparently Fox News watchers are not as easy to spot as whackos…or humor posts on internet forums. See you guys at Drum Circle.

  37. mindshadow says:

    @Kevin Cotter: It’s difficult to get free samples from doctors when you can’t afford to go.

    And I don’t really care if you believe the details of my story, I wasn’t begging for sympathy or anything like that, just pointing out that people suffer because of a profit-driven healthcare industry.

    And I did help as much as I could, but I was in college (and she refused to let me quit as she knew she wasn’t doing well and didn’t want me to hinder my future for her), I have a maxed out credit card from paying for what I could for her, on top of car payments and what not. Even with a decent job doctors visits are not cheap, especially cardiologists and rheumatologists.

  38. youbastid says:

    @Troy F.: Oh I’m sorry, I mistook you for a Fox News junkie because your “humor post” was of the Fox News variety, and your retort was similar. Making drum circle tree hugging hippie remarks at anyone who takes anything besides a republican stance? Very Hannity.

    FYI: I work a corporate job, eat steak and pussy, and drink beer. I also believe that health care is a right and not a privilege.

  39. youbastid says:

    Jesus, I need to lay off the coffee.

  40. DrGirlfriend says:

    EMTALA already forbids barring access to emergency care based on a patient’s financial status or ability to pay. So that’s out.

    @CumaeanSibyl: Hospitals don’t just see emergency cases. There’s the ER, then there’s all the other departments of the hospital where doctors see patients and schedule them for procedures. Those kids of procedures that are not emergencies and are scheduled in advance are called “elective”. To most people, elective would indicate something like cosmetic surgery, for example. But in fact, if your doctor schedules you for an angioplasty in 2 weeks, it is deemed elective. And, potentially, this is where the danger of a medical FICO score could lie. If you are not insured, you *could* see cases where the hospital runs the score and weighs the risk. Technically, the hospital could say that because the patient can get the same procedure elsewhere, then they don’t *have* to allow the doc to perform the procedure there. I’m just extemporizing on this, based on my own experience in my line of work, not saying it would indeed happen that way.

  41. MeOhMy says:

    @youbastid: If the “*totally*” didn’t tip you off it’s because you’re too busy looking for people to compartmentalize. Maybe you should stop taking your political cues from television – any of it.

    I didn’t make the drum circle comment because you don’t have a “republican stance” (there you go with the mindless assumptions again), I made the comment because turn about is fair play. I like how you make an assumption about my entire political ideology based on a single offhand comment but then are quick to criticise me for doing the same. This in itself speaks volumes about both of our ideologies.

  42. youbastid says:

    @Troy F.: Note the coffee comment. I’m a little amped up this AM with nowhere to put it at the moment. Apologies for my abrasiveness.

    @Pithlit: Those days are already over. Many companies already charges additional monthly fees (between $20 and $100) if you smoke, and word around the campfire is that extra fees for unsatisfactory BMI’s and cholesterol levels are just around the corner.

  43. JiminyChristmas says:

    @Kevin Cotter: When one government plan fails, there’s always another one to fill in the gap. When the fed fails, the state and county are there to pick up slack.

    There are at least 47 million uninsured people in this country. Do you honestly believe they are all doing without just because they haven’t found the right program yet? Unless you are on Medicare or eligible for VA benefits the Federal government doesn’t do jack for your health care or lack thereof. Medicaid is administered at the state level, and they have a lot of leeway as to how that happens.

    Will the state or county entity pick up your tab? I suppose that may be true if you’re the right person living in the right place. However, in most parts of the country if you’re an individual earning more than $20,000/yr (about 200% of poverty level) the likelihood of there being any free or subsidized program that would insure you is very small.

  44. JiminyChristmas says:

    @misstic: The UK is widely thought to have the most poorly-run and financed health care system in the EU, ergo people who don’t like the idea of universal health insurance like to use it as an example. When you look at exemplary systems like those of France or Germany, it makes the American system appear even less defensible than it is.

    As for finite resources, that’s certainly true. That said, what we spend on health care would go a lot farther if 30 cents of every dollar didn’t go to things like: insurance company profit and overhead, the army of accounting staff that doctors have to employ to get insurers to pay their bills, doctors wasting time arguing coverage and pre-approvals with insurance companies, and us arguing coverage and pre-approvals with insurance companies. I would love to see the day when ‘medical billing specialist’ isn’t a job description I see in the paper anymore.

  45. DrGirlfriend says:

    Indeed, there are not a large number of programs that help people with Rx needs. As an example, when Oregon’s Medicaid program stopped covering prescriptions, things went into a tailspin. Pharmacies are under no obligation to give you your meds without money up front, and many people saw their conditions worsen because of their lack of access to meds. If there were so many programs, pharmacies would have had every incentive to help patients find these programs because some revenue is better than no revenue.

  46. Kevin Cotter says:

    @JiminyChristmas:

    There are non-insurance programs to cover stuff like prescriptions, prenatal care, and other costly medical costs. I wasn’t referring to insurance per say. The problem is you have to hunt for them because few know they exist.

    Of those 47 million uninsured, how many are eligible for coverage? I turned it down from my 20′s through 30′s to have more spending money. Insurance is spendy, we could buy a really nice SUV with our health insurance payments, and that’s what some people do. Health insurance doesn’t help when they deny coverage, or pay so little it barely matters.

    IMHO insurers are the biggest problem in health care. They own all the politicians, so when is the last time a law regarding health insurance was even suggested that did anything except protect and benefit insurance companies? They are few and far between.

    My wife volunteered at a free clinic for a while. They kept a person there to see how many people would qualify for a gov’t program – most either qualified, or were refusing their company plan so they didn’t have to pay.

    The current system is screwed up, and needs fixing.

  47. Silversmok3 says:

    Yup,just what the world needs. Another credit score system.

    Even if you never see a hospital, this will affect you. Badly. Here’s how:

    Your car insurance will be ‘High-Risk’,because your MedFICO is low,and since you cant pay for your medical expenses,you will be a drain on the Insurance company, hence high-risk coverage.

    Your employer will choose someone with a higher medFICO
    score,because somone who can pay their (potential_)medical bills will be at less risk to steal/defraud the company.

    And so on, and so forth.

    and the possibilities of medFICO identity theft are truly too terrifying to imagine.

    And if you do see a hospital?Ill let your imagination fill in the blank….

  48. MeOhMy says:

    @youbastid: Apologies for my douche-ness :-) Maybe you are not amp’ed up b/c of the coffee but b/c of this insance and rather frightening MedFICO concept.

  49. misstic says:

    @Pithlit: You missed the point of my post. This is clearly a way to manage finite resources that have an infinite demand. The slippery slope here is obvious. Fast forward to implementation: you get injured and require medical attention. A MedFICO is done and the result determines the speed in which you recieve care, the level of care and possibly even the location. I can see less “desirable” MedFICO patients being shuffled off to the overburdened, under-staffed public hospital. Not the shiny, new hospital with the cutting edge technology. Those will be reserved for the ones with a high MedFICO score.

    Now do you see how this will mirror Universal Care? I never implied that a MedFICO system was employed by countries with Universal Healthcare. I did, however, point out the parallels (precious resources allocated to many people according to some abritary system).

    The U.S. cannot effectively run it’s current healthcare system. It scares me to think there are people who would willingly turn this function over the govt. We don’t have a healthcare crisis. We have a health insurance crisis. Big difference.

    Personally? I wish healthcare could be purchased on the open market the same way car insurance is purchased. Look at how competitive that industry is. And most importantly, health insurance should NEVER be tied to your employment. That is the most dysfunctional set up! We’re accustomed to thinking that a job goes hand in hand with health insurance. In fact, benefits are often touted as the main draw. We’re blind….

  50. Nemesis_Enforcer says:

    @JiminyChristmas: Speaking from experiance with the VA even when you can prove that a medical condition is directly due to your service they still will try to weasel out of helping you. I have a totally reconstructed knee and a totally artifical knee. Both injuries happened while I was serving. When I had to get the replacement redone the VA spent almost 2 years trying to tell me they wouldn’t do it. Then when I finally got approval thanks to my congressman’s intervention they wanted me to wait almost another 2 years for the surgery. I was in intense pain and could barely walk so I went thru my regular doctor to have it done. I am lucky I could go that route, I saw a lot of people at the VA who have no other coverage.

  51. Pithlit says:

    @misstic: No, I didn’t miss the point of your post. I simply disagreed with it. I’m sorry, but I don’t see how this mirrors Universal Healthcare in the least. This Fico business isn’t about managing finite resources, but about further maximizing profits. UHC isn’t profit driven. They are completely different systems, neither of which have finite resources. Our current system has finite resources and also has the added concern of profits because they’re beholden to shareholders, which is why we’re left with millions of uninsured.

    This story doesn’t point out that UHC would be a bad idea, it highlights why it is absolutely vital we adopt our own version as soon as possible. If we continue with what we have, they’ll just keep throwing out more schemes at us, like this new Fico, to further deepen their own pockets. The longer we stick with it, the worse things get. The countries with UHC certainly aren’t perfect. Nothing can be absolutely perfect. But they’re still much, much better than what we have. We could adopt the absolute worst example of UHC out there and still come out way ahead.

  52. Pithlit says:

    @misstic: Also wanted to add this: it scares you that people want to turn health care over to the government? Well, it scares me to think that there are people that want to keep letting corporations make our health care decisions for us. It scares me to think that even with this horrendous story about MedFico that there will still be people who want to cling to this horribly inefficient, profit driven system. What evidence besides your own mistrust of the government do you have that shows that our government can’t do what just about every other free country does? That they couldn’t do it even better? We have the advantage of having sat on our butts while every other country got with the program, so we can see their mistakes, and improve on what they did well. There’s no reason we couldn’t do it. And we don’t really have a choice, because sticking with private health care is already failing us all miserably and has been for years. This Fico scam is only more evidence of that. I’m sorry, but the argument has to be better than “I’m afraid of our government!”

  53. wessev says:

    Is it time for the Revolution yet?

  54. mindshadow says:

    This also reminds me of that Discovery channel program that came on a while back about future technology (something about the year 2050 or some jazz like that). During the medical part some guy injured himself and he didn’t have “platinum coverage” with his insurance so they wouldn’t do the operating he needed.

  55. Sep says:

    Everyone likes picking on the NHS but 90% of British expats I’ve spoken to all say some variation of, “Until I got here I didn’t know how good I had it back home.”

  56. john42 says:

    @Pithlit: couldn’t have said it better myself.

    Disturbing material. Wonder at what age you start getting scored… Imagine a premature infant in the NICU not receiving vital care because of the parents bad scores, or just the mere fact that he/she was born early.

  57. B1663R says:

    makes me happy i live in canada

  58. joellevand says:

    1. Socialized medicine will not make things better. See also: the UK’s NHS sucks. A lot.

    2. While a MedFICO scheme is one of the DUMBEST things I’ve ever heard of, it is the unfortunate result of people like a co-worker of my husband who is living with his non-working illegal immigrant girlfriend who has constant medical issues. To get around paying for service or registering with a doctor’s office (which might be alerted by the fact that she doesn’t have any kind of identification what so ever) they go to hospital ERs, use her real name but phony address and other details, and then never worry about paying the bills because she has no social security number — or any other identifying information for them to collect upon. I’ve said to my husband on numerous occasions that, next time I have to pay out of pocket for some ridiculously expensive procedure not covered by our insurance, I’ll make sure and thank his co-worker with a boot up the ass.

    Also, I once dated a guy who did this sort of thing as well — he wasn’t in the country illegally or anything, he just wanted to screw with “the man” and thought that by dodging his bills, he could help force socialized medicine to become a reality in the US. True story.

  59. joellevand says:

    @Pithlit: The government who’s f’d up our children’s educations with No Child Left Behind? Who haven’t been fiscally solvent in recent memory? Who mange to bungle, mishandle, or otherwise screw up every single measure they come up with because of partisan politics which state that, regardless of what you believe is best for your constituents, you have to simply vote the opposite of the other party’s line? A government that is, for lack of a better term, full of fail? You really want to trust these morons with your health care? Really? Wow. I’m scared of you.

  60. joellevand says:

    PS: True stories about the NHS:

    1. The father of a friend of my husband went into an NHS hospital with a cut on his hand, for stitches. He was tested for other conditions or infections and found to be negative. Upon release for the hospital, he got sick — turns out, he contracted MRSA in the hospital.

    2. My husband had to wait six months for a procedure that he could have had in a few weeks if he had private insurance.

    3. It took me three months to get to an OB/GYN because of the lack of NHS-run clinics in the area and the small number of staff due to government budget cutbacks. Luckily, I wasn’t pregnant, but had I been, imagine waiting three months from when you find out you’re pregnant for your first visit/check up.

    Good points: free medicine. Free health care. Too bad you can die from waiting for it, or die from receiving it.

  61. Pithlit says:

    @joellevand: Well, here in America, you can die because you never had a crack at it at all. You’re not even on any sort of list. You simply have no chance. You mentioned the three month wait for an OB/GYN? That’s happening for many women in the US, too. Only we get the added benefit of having to pay for it as well.

    For every “My brother’s sister’s best friend’s cousin died waiting for xyz procedure story I hear, I hear many more “I had to have a life saving procedure and wasn’t charge a dime” story. UHC may not be perfect, but every single person I’ve ever personally known and talked to would still take it a million times over what we have in the US. They usually say things like “We feel so sorry for you” too. So, I’m still going with the push for UHC.

  62. Pithlit says:

    @joellevand: You’re right, because the government hasn’t kept the country free from foreign invasion for 200 years, hasn’t cleaned up our environment, hasn’t insured that your water is drinkable, hasn’t insured that your air is breathable, that the vast majority of students in Ivy League schools come from public schools, that the internet was created, that a man was put on the moon, that the Ohio river no longer catches on fire, and on, and on, and on…

    The idea that the government can do nothing is laughably simplistic. The idea that a government can’t handle healthcare is put to the lie every single day in almost every other industrialized country in the world. For healthcare we spend far more and get worse results than every other firt world country in the world, and even some 3rd world countries. So, yes, I think the government is perfectly capable of hanadling healthcare. The idea that you would entrust healthcare to a market is terrifying. You are putting your health and the health of everyone you know in the hands of people who’s only incentive is to make money. The easiest way to make money as a health insurer is to kill people. Now, I know that’s not the polite term for it. They prefer terms like “expiremental” and “prexisting conditions”, and “not standard for your market”. But, in the end it is more profitiable for them to deny coverage than to keep you alive. There is nothing you can do about it. It is inherent in the market. At least with our governmet, we have a say.

    There is no perfect solution. But I’ll put my faith in some government bureaucrat who’s boss is afraid I’ll vote his ass out over some insurance company bureaucrat who’s afraid his boss is going to fire him if he can’t show a 25% profit this quarter. Markets are fine for things like widgets and Coca Cola. But for important stuff? I’ll trust democracy, thank you very much.

  63. JiminyChristmas says:

    @joellevand:

    NHS is a universal health plan + the NHS doesn’t work very well = universal health plans are bad?

    All your anecdotes demonstrate is that if you want to run an effective national health system; don’t do it like the UK. Instead, why not look to Canada, France, or Germany, who have very well-regarded systems? I don’t know many French or Germans, but of the Canucks I know I have yet to meet one who would trade their system for the US’s.

  64. JiminyChristmas says:

    @Pithlit: Well put. Your comments on this thread are excellent.

    I would add that in the US private insurance is no guarantee of prompt and competent care. As for MRSA, major hospitals throughout the US are dealing with this as well. So, it’s presence in the UK doesn’t say much.

    Regarding waiting periods: It’s commonplace for Americans in typical PPO or managed care plans to wait weeks or months for elective procedures. Personally, I once tried to schedule an appointment with my GP and was told their earliest opening was in 6 weeks. That’s what a $400 monthly premium and a $25 office visit copay will get you in the US, if you’re lucky enough to be insured.

  65. Pithlit says:

    @jiminychristmas: It’s why I’m puzzled that there are people are still so supportive of it. I don’t know why the vast majority of people aren’t ready to chuck it, and I have better than average health insurance. I do think more and more people are getting fed up, which is why I think we’ll eventually move toward a UHC, even though it will be an uphill battle all the way. It’s also comforting that in this thread, no one seems to be supporting this gawdawful Fico scam, no matter what side of the debate they’re on. And, thank you for the complement.

  66. FLConsumer says:

    Lovely… Let’s keep on finding ways to screw the end users (victims) of the current US healthcare system rather than attacking the actual problems (administrative overhead).

  67. avantartist says:

    this blows.

    @joellevand: that still beats the policy i don’t have.

    Having a good health insurance policy is becoming a luxury in the states.

  68. glater says:

    What you meant to say was “having a health insurance policy is becoming a luxury in the states”.

    This is such an awful, awful idea that I am having extreme difficulty in believing its reality. Honestly. A direct system of ranking care priority by payment capacity? What. The. Fuck. No. No, no, no. I hope fellow Consumerist readers will be joining me in the belltower when that happens.