NC Blue Cross Doesn't Think Public Option Needed

http://www.wral.com/news/local/story/5647742/

Barbara Morales Burke, Blue Cross vice president for health policy, said the state workers are misinterpreting the company's position.

"We're not saying 'not the Obama plan,'" Burke said. "We are not in favor of a government option – a government insurance option – but we are in favor of many things that I understand to be part of the Obama plan, which (are) covering everyone, promoting quality and containing costs."

She said more than two dozen insurers already provide health coverage in North Carolina, so the state doesn't need a public option.

"I'm not sure what one more choice would do," she said.

My Opinion:
I could not believe what I was reading when I read the above article. Blue Cross honestly thinks that their rates, policies, and practices are fair and nothing else is needed? How about the nearly 2 million people that are uninsured in North Carolina? Does Blue Cross really think that these people want to be uninsured or maybe it is because private insurance is so over priced and their policies and practices has made it impossible for nearly 2 million people in North Carolina to afford their insurance policies? If Blue Cross and all other Private Insurers really think that we don't need a Public Health Option then let them give up their bonuses and huge salaries to pay for the Health Care of those nearly 2 million NC Citizens that can't afford their insurance! Better yet, let them stand in front of the friends and family of the 18 thousand people that die every year because Private Insurance is unaffordable and unattainable for individuals with pre-existing chronic conditions and explain to them why they don't believe that citizens need a Public Option!

Too many Private Insurers have their heads in the clouds and can't see what is truly happening around them. All they see is that they will have to stop hurting people by denying treatment or cancelling their policies when people get too sick and too expensive to cover, they see that they will have to cover everyone to include individuals with pre-existing conditions and charge a fair market rate instead of over-profiting by charging them up to 7 times the normal rate, they see that they will be held accountable for what they do, approve, deny, and charge. They see that they will actually have to be competitive and play fair and they are afraid that they won't be able to pay their CEO's $4 million per year with hundreds of thousands of dollars in bonuses and they won't be able to claim a "non-profit" status while posting some of the highest profits out there.

I understand it is hard for big business to have a heart or to understand what the average individual is going through. As long as their profits are good, they have huge expensive offices, and they live like kings then who cares about anyone else. But I don't understand how they can be so blind and deaf, even to the statistics that are put out there by our government, even though those numbers should make sense to them being a business and all, still they refuse to see or hear.

We need Health Care Reform with a National Public Health Option to include a Hardship Waiver Program NOW! The Private Insurance Industry needs serious regulation and the majority of the American people have agreed that it is time to stand up to Private Insurance Companies and give the people another option!

Comments

I wonder why they never answer the statement by WHO....

(World Health Organization) that ranks us way down on the list for quality health care(24th?), while maintaining our number one position for being the most expensive, by far! This is all racketeering on a massive scale, fully protected and endorsed by our political leadership. So to expect any spokesperson from BC to make some statement that they will 'make amends', would be like the Mafia having someone say they made a few mistakes. That person would be reported as having a 'tragic accident'.

Private Insurers Crashing Health Care System to Gain Profit

Not to sound like a conspiracy theorist here but maybe the reason that Private Health Insurance Companies are lobbying against Health Care Reform is because they want our current Health Care System to crash. Maybe they think that if no one has any public choice and the whole thing crashes down then they can come along and save the day by offering initially "cheap" insurance that is the only option. Then they can get everyone hooked and up their prices even more. It wouldn't be the first time that a monopoly intentionally hurt their own industry just to come along and save it to make the max profit and have total power. Just a thought.....

yeah, I'm sure they ARE in favor of covering everyone

Covering everyone? Ha! Nothing like a government mandate with no regulation to drive up profits for shareholders.

Containing costs? HA!!!! Nothing like containing THEIR costs and passing as much as possible on to the patient to drive up profits for shareholders.

Competition from a not-for-profit government plan? HA!!! No thanks. Can't be havin' that. They can't maximize profits if they have to compete against a carrier whose coverage makes their insurance plans look like a row of crap sandwiches with various ratios of crap to bread.

"They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum Then they charged the people a dollar 'n a half just to see 'em. Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone? They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

I like that phrase "public option"

I think BCBS fully understands "public option" implications for their bottom line and for the people who cannot afford healthcare. To them it is simply a tradeoff in the calculus of misery. Welcome to Corporate America.

How did we get to this point where "healthcare" and "health insurance" have become interchangeable? How did insurance get into the middle of this? I understand your car, your house, natural disasters--- but health? Medical treatment?

-b

There cannot fail to be more kinds of things, as nature grows further disclosed. - Sir Francis Bacon

Be careful what you ask for

We have already done the single-payer "public option" insurance experiment with Medicare for people 65 and over, the disabled etc., which already represents the lion's share of healthcare costs in this country. This is because most of us incur our major healthcare costs in our late years.

My loving grandfather lived to be 93, and a doctor would see him for 5 minutes, and charge Medicare $700, time and time again. And this was on rare occasion that we actually got to see the bills, even though we always asked for them, but usually they just went straight to Medicare without us ever seeing them. This is why Medicare is bankrupt and an abject failure.

This is what private insurance currently competes with, and so it is no wonder why premiums are going up 30% per year. He was on Medicare for 28 years, which quite frankly is unfair because he had a net worth of nearly $1 million dollars from the stock run up in the late 90's (and yes lost it with everyone else several years later). The point is during the time he had that kind of net worth, it's not appropriate for the public to be paying the healthcare bills. He might have argued that he paid into social security his whole life, etc. etc..

However, if we extend this same approach to everyone, where everyone has a free unlimited healthcare credit card to charge the federal government, it will bankrupt this country. Less money for jobs, innovation (including in the medical field aimed at prevention rather than treatment), small business, education, and everything else that has made this country great.

Competition is what keeps prices low.

Now, there is still the uninsured and pre-existing condition scenario to deal with. And stop saying 50 million people are uninsured in this country because it is intellectually disingenuous. That's like counting the people who don't have cars in this country and including New Yorkers in the count. The REAL number of uninsured people who are not uninsured by choice is more like 20-25 million, less than 10% of the population. Until we take emotion out of it and agree on facts, we're going to get nowhere.

Since the older people in this country maintain a disproportionate percentage of the wealth in this country, and incur a disproportionate percentage of the healthcare costs in this country, how about having a "net worth" healthcare tax? This money can then be used to provide catastrophic (not full coverage) to those who are not insured, including pre-existing conditions, who meet the financial requirements only (which would represent the bottom 10% of earners in this country). They could then "buy up" full insurance at a discounted rate if they so choose (even if it means doing without the cell phone, wii's, air jordans, etc.).

Now I realize that Pelosi, Kennedy, and others will scream bloody foul because they, like other politicians throughout this country's history, will do everything they can to protect their families' massive wealth, but if truly believe the "able" should pay their fair share, then one must look far beyond income to determine someone's "ability" to pay.

It is completely unfair that the entire tab for unlimited healthcare credit cards ought to be paid for on the backs of those of us with mortgages, with little or negative net worth, our own kids to pay for, and working 6 days a week just to break even in an economy like this, while politicians and many older Americans live on massive estates paying virtually zero tax other than property. This has got to end before the knees of the employed in this country buckle. Then who will pay?

By the way, I've never met anyone who went to another country to receive healthcare, regardless of what the WHO says.

Do some research

Competition is what keeps prices low.

BCBS of NC has a 72.5% market share in NC. What besides a public option going to change that?

The national average for market share in a state for the largest insurer is somewhere around 45%, a 12% increase in the last 10 years.

Since the older people in this country maintain a disproportionate percentage of the wealth in this country,

That isnt true at all.

It is completely unfair that the entire tab for unlimited healthcare credit cards ought to be paid for on the backs of those of us with mortgages...

No idea where the "unlimited healthcare credit card" line comes from but no one has those and no one is proposing those.
This plan will be paid for largely by people who earn over $280,000 a year or $500,000 depending upon who gets their way, that is less than 2% of the country. Someone making that much money a year is not struggling.

By the way, I've never met anyone who went to another country to receive healthcare, regardless of what the WHO says.

If someone can't afford to get healthcare here because they can't afford it how are they going to be able to afford a trip to another country? You are making a strawman argument.

"Keep the Faith"

50 Million Uninsured

You stated, "stop saying 50 million people are uninsured in this country because it is intellectually disingenuous. That's like counting the people who don't have cars in this country and including New Yorkers in the count. The REAL number of uninsured people who are not uninsured by choice is more like 20-25 million" So you don't count New Yorkers? Aren't they citizens too? I quote data from reliable sources such as healthreform.gov, whitehouse.gov, U.S. Census Bureau, Families USA, IOM, and others that are credentialed and experts in data collecting. Do you really think that people are uninsured by choice? Between 1% and 3% of the total uninsured are uninsured by choice. The true number of uninsured varies between 47 million and 60 million depending on where and when that data was collected, the Federal Government has taken the latest figures of 47 million uninsured from those who have been uninsured for more than 1yr as of 2006.

Private Insurance costs are not increasing due to Medicaid/Medicare, they are increasing due to paying CEO's $4 Million Salary and over $700 thousand bonuses. There is really no competition in private health insurance, pricing is always within the same ballpark. The only way to get private insurance companies to do what they should, charge fairly, and truly compete is to have a National Public Health Care option and to regulate the industry.

We already have programs that cover the lowest 10% of earners, they are Medicaid and Community Health Clinics. There are no programs available for those who earn between 200% and 400% Federal Poverty Rate, in NC that equates to something like $18 thousand per year to $36 thousand per year per working adult.

As far as taxing the wealthiest 2% of citizens then I totally support that. I also support regulation of the private health insurance industry because if you want to blame anyone for the VERY REAL Health Care Crisis that our nation faces then it would be the private health insurance industry because they charge up to 7 times the normal rate for pre-existing conditions, they deny treatments and medicines based on cost not quality, and they cancel policies that people have paid years for as soon as someone develops a serious and expensive condition.

I don't know what bubble you have been living in but you can read about people going to other countries to obtain health care every single day in the various news media. I have met dozens, if not more, people that travel all over the world to obtain health care that is cheaper and better quality than what is in our country. I have also met many people that have moved to other countries just because of the current condition of our health care system. Just because you have not personally met someone who has gone to another country for health care doesn't mean it doesn't happen. Just because you haven't personally experienced something doesn't mean that everyone else is wrong.

I would rather know that I have a big heart and care about my fellow man, thereby showing a bit of emotion, than be a person that only cares about themselves. This isn't a political issue, this is a humanity issue. It is about saving lives, saving families, saving small businesses, and saving our economy and our society. Many civilizations have fallen when they have failed to address the needs of their citizens, America can not be one of them. In the Preamble of our Constitution it says that we all have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Access to Health Care is a right to live. Do you believe the founding Fathers of our country would have wanted a large percentage of our population to suffer and die from lack of health care due to a monetary or political issue. We, over our history, have been known to the world as the most compassionate culture on the planet, can we say that if we let our own people die over the affordability of health care and health insurance. Then can we still say as a Nation that we have that compassion or have we lost our way.

You've never met people who went to another country

to receive healthcare? Really? Damn, you must be a hermit.

People that live along the Canadian border regularly go to Canada to purchase their prescription pharmacuticals. That, my friend is healthcare. People from all around the US go to Canada to have many outpatient surgeries. The cost of the flight, the cost of the hotel, the cost of the healthcare professional is so much less than what it is here in the US that they can vacation north of the border and get that healthcare they needed too!

Perhaps my time as a travelling consultant brought me into contact with more people than you normally see, and I understand that. However, there is this internet tool called Google that works two ways. It can take you to sites and articles that tell you what you want to hear, and it can also be used to refute that meme by asking the opposite of what it is you want to hear. I suggest trying that a time or two. I also suggest checking out Australia's healthcare system that is closer to what is being proposed than the Canadian style. More to the point, I would check the statistics on healthcare in Canada, Australia and the USA for real facts of the outcome of that healthcare. Let's have a look at Canada vs. USA in that respect.

Circulatory disease deaths per 100,000:

Canada: 219
United States: 265

Child maltreatment deaths per 100,000:
Canada: 0.7
United States: 2.2

Digestive disease deaths per 100,000:

Canada: 17.4
United States: 20.5

Infant mortality rate per 1,000 live births
Canada: 5.08
United States: 6.3

Intestinal diseases death rate
Canada: 0.3%
United States: 7.3%

Proability of not reaching age 60:

Canada: 9.5%
United States: 12.8%

Respiratory disease child death rate per 100,000

Canada: 0.62
United States: 40.43

Heart disease deaths per 100,000:

Canada: 94.9
United States: 106.5

HIV deaths per million people:

Canada: 47.423
United States: 48.141

Here is a link if you want to do some reasearch for yourself. And, no, being number one here isn't a good thing.

http://www.nationmaster.com/cat/hea-health&all=1

North Carolina. Turning the South Blue!

Canadian/US Stats - Thanks for Link & Data

Hey Funluvn!
Thanks for the link and stats. Couldn't agree with you more! I can definately use this information!

The beauty of that data is that

you can compare ANY country with any other country. Real information! What a friggin' Republican nightmare! LMAO!

North Carolina. Turning the South Blue!

Re: Be careful what you ask for

Superbob may not personally know anyone who has gone to another country to receive healthcare, so that means it didn't happen! Wow - who knew Superbob's experience defines reality? I wish someone had told me, I wouldn't have wasted years of reading and research into issues - I could have just asked Superbob what he knows about and left it at that.
There have been many documented news stories of Americans going to India and other countries to have various surgeries in order to save money - no, Superbob, you can do your own Google search, I'm busy trying to earn enough money to pay my outlandish health insurance premiums. I personally know two couples in which one member of the couple is Canadian. On at least three occasions, due to serious medical problems, one of the couples has moved temporarily to Canada in order to take advantage of Canadian citizenship and its practically free healthcare. I don't assume that my experience is the sum total of reality, however, so I imagine there are many more than these two people who have done the same thing. Not to mention all the folks who cross over into Canada to get cheaper prescription drugs.

Facts on wealth distribution by age, and the uninsured

Nearly 40% of the net worth in this country is held by the top 1%. Of that top 1%, nearly 2/3 are over the age of 55, and 90% are over the age of 45. I think it's pretty clear where the wealth sits in this country by age.

Counting cars for people in New York City means that most of them don't have them because they don't need or want them - that was the point.

Regarding the 46 million uninsured number, 10 million of these are illegal immigrants. Very few will argue that they would be covered (yet the number is still used in debate).

Of the remaining 36 million uninsured, 16 million earn incomes over $50,000 per year, and have chosen not to have health insurance.

So the true number of uninsured American citizens earning less than $50k/year and without health insurance is 20 million, or about 7% of the population. I realize it doesn't quite have the same grandstanding value, but the facts are facts.

You are right about BCBS having 72% of market share in North Carolina. The way to introduce competition is to allow people to buy health insurance from other states.

I still submit that net worth ought to be the basis from which it is paid for, rather than income. The top 2% in net worth is a very different than the top 2% earners. Isn't it a truer indicator? Why should someone with $10 million in the bank pay nothing? Isn't it a question of fairness? And as the price goes up for small businesses, they will simply lay people off, so unemployment will rise and even more people won't have employment coverage.

As far as the unlimited credit card, what are you going to do, put a limit on the cost of someone's health care? What if someone hits their limit? Let them die? Where's the compassion?

And if you truly believe that universal healthcare is a question of humanity, than you can sell 90% of what you own and "redistribute" it the 3 billion people living in poverty and without healthcare around the world.

And I do expect that people that are able to do so will start leaving the country rather than wait in lines for the rationed healthcare and 8-12 month waiting periods that other countries that have gone down this path like Sweden experience. But I doubt they will have much trouble finding an American doctor internationally, since so many of our best will have left the country.

Links to data are always nice

Could you back those numbers up with a link(s) to the point from which you quoted the numbers? Thank you!

North Carolina. Turning the South Blue!

Proving Stated "Facts" From Reliable Government Sources

"Superbob", I have to agree with "Funluvn", you state data without giving any proof or links to that proof, reliable sources only please as I don't trust anything that comes from the right wing groups. As far as Universal Health Care, no one is talking about that. What we are talking about, and what my original article was about, was the need for Health Care Reform that includes a National Public Health Care option with a Hardship Waiver to assist families that have multiple children with special health care needs and to assist individuals and families that are barely scraping by and can't afford standard market prices for insurance. The article was also about the corruption of private health insurance companies and the serious need for regulation of those private health insurance companies. If you would actually listen to the President when he talks about Health Care Reform and do your own research on Whitehouse.gov, healthreform.gov, uscensus.gov, familiesusa.org, and any other truly reputable sources then you would see that what we are all talking about and trying to get passed is to ensure that we have equality in our Health Care System, to save lives, regulate the insurance industry, to lower costs, to introduce IT Tech. into every medical setting, to ensure that we have quality health care instead of just quantity, and that every citizen has the ability to obtain health care without making sacrifices that destroy and bankrupt families. Open your mind and your heart, dismiss your fears and pessimism and pre-conceived ideas and actually listen and learn. Then maybe you will have a different mindset and see that what is being proposed is really a great thing.

As it is, from what you have said, it seems as if you are defending private health insurance and maintaining the status quo. No thanks on both. I have had enough of the status quo, enough of 8 yrs of fighting to survive, enough of people telling me that I just have to deal with the garbage I hear that truly doesn't make any common sense. I am speaking out, I am letting people know where I stand and what I believe in. I am no longer afraid of proclaiming that I am proud to be a Democrat living in the South for fear that my neighbors will come down on me or that I will face repercussions from my community. I am very proud to have such a great man as President of our country and I support all of his proposed Reforms.

The health insurance "group"

The whole idea of "group" health insurance allows insurance companies to pick and choose members of the "group." That idea needs to be the first thing to go.

Let BCBS and the other insurance providers in NC base their rates not on the members of small "groups" of people -- groups that they try to reduce in size at every opportunity. Instead, let them spread the health "risk" over the entire population of the state, much as life insurers do with their actuarial tables.

Secondly, we really do need to separate health care from other stuff like elective cosmetic surgery and recreational drugs like viagra and cialis. While decrying illegal drugs, in the next breath we are advertising on prime time tv to our kids that you can take a pill that will help you get laid. Isn't that the whole idea of pot and "designer drugs" among young people?

Finally, we need to eliminate the patchwork quilt of state regulation of health insurance. There needs to be national standards and national regulation, if we're to be successful in eliminating things like "pre-existing conditions" exclusions and all the other tricks and traps insurance companies use to avoid paying claims.

______________________________________________________________________

The measure of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little. - FDR

Very good. Mostly, we need to get the middleman

out of the business of health care. We need health care, not insurance. If we must have insurance, they MUST be willing to forego a good amount of insane profits in the real effort to save American lives.

North Carolina. Turning the South Blue!

Elective, Cosmetic, and Recreational Drugs and Surgeries

I completly agree that we should never cover things like cosmetic surgery and truly elective surgery. Recreational Drugs such as Viagra should not be advertised or covered. I really hate it when those types of commercials come on in front of the kids. We definately need to have Federal regulation of the entire industry and the Federal entity needs to have some serious teeth to actually stop the violations. I also definately agree that we need Health Care, not necessarily Health Insurance but that is what is on the table right now. It really gets to me when I see these Insurance ads saying "everyone qualifies for a low rate" or I see these huge office buildings and hear about how much their CEO's are raking in and how they take their top people on vacation and retreat. They waste money and raise premiums and lie all the way to the bank.

I am all for disolving the private health insurance industry and taking the money to provide health care for every citizen. Unfortunately, it will never happen. The best I can hope, and work, for is to have Health Care Reform to include a National Public Health Plan with a Hardship Waiver and regulations on the Private Health Insurance Industry.

Prescription drug advertising

I'm for going back to the days (not too long ago) when advertising of prescription drugs was banned.

______________________________________________________________________

The measure of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little. - FDR

I'm with usna77

I left the USA to live and work in Asia back in 1988. Returned to USA in 2000 and wham! prescription drugs all over the television screens...also. I asked my Doc last year about that change and he said drug companies have seen massive and unparalleled profits since the change in advertising policy. Now he says his patients come in demanding certain drugs they saw on teh TV. Most popular by far? Yes, that one.

So I guess that means it worked as planned.

-b

There cannot fail to be more kinds of things, as nature grows further disclosed. - Sir Francis Bacon

Canadian Statistics

These are nice statistics funluvn, but you left out the fact that the demographics of the United States are substantially different in the United States in terms of minorities and immigrants and this contributes significantly to those statistics.

We already spend nearly twice the amount of money per capita than Canada does, including a greater percentage of the government budget than they do (thanks to Medicare). So are you trying to prove that more money equals less results?

In Saskatchewan, the wait times for an MRI have been 22 months (Canadian Medical Journal), and in Nova Scotia they have had lotteries to see who gets to see the doctor.

And by the way, I have traveled extensively.

For example, I've been to Hanoi, Vietnam where the communist government comes on every morning at 8am city-wide loud speakers telling people how to feel that day, and how to support the "party". I was absolutely shocked to see this.

I've been to the "People's" Republic of China, where the elite engineering that society "for the people" live extravagantly while a great deal of the country washes its hair in the feces from the village upstream.

I've been to Poland, former East Germany, and the Czech Republic, where socialism eliminated quality of life, for without profit motive, things became functional. They have the ugliest, drab, tenement buildings I have ever seen everywhere. Restaurants, when people could afford them, offered a single meal. Without incentive, counter to the human spirit, what's the point to creating nice places to live? Thank heaven they are all coming out of the soul-killing grips of socialism.

I've been to once proud and prosperous Hungary, where the Soviets asked the citizens if they were tired of their bosses driving big cars, and shouldn't they all have them too? And the workers cheered and said, yes! Give it to us! We are with you! And when after 10 years the platitudes didn't produce results, and people were poorer, and the government elite lived in elegance and prosperity (like the Easleys of today), and the people realized the folly of it all and started to object, the Soviet tanks rolled and murdered those who didn't stand for the socialist ideology. I would suggest you read James Michener's "Bridge at Andau" for a real lesson as to what socialism begets a society.

I've even lived in Canada for a year.

We need reform on the medicare rip-offs, not more spending. Medicare and Medicaid have already brought us two drugstores on every intersection (have you looked out your window lately?). With massive new spending, we will have people of all ages drug-addicted and four drugstores at every intersection.

Is it any wonder the pharmaceutical companies are endorsing the proposed plan so wholeheartedly? Talk about laughing all the way to the bank!