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Sunday, December 03, 2006

Helping the Truly Needy

(poster by Austin Cline by way of Jesus' General)

....the poor executives in the pharmaceutical industry can't make their big bonuses unless we pony up the cash for our overpriced medications.

I'm looking forward to some serious reforms of Medicare Part D (prescription coverage) by the new Democratic congress. The entire plan, as drafted by the Republican congress, was a giveaway to corporate America, namely the insurance and pharmaceutical industries. Rather than running the prescription plan itself, as it does successfully and cheaply with Medicaid and the VA, our government has added many layers of administration and inefficiency by farming it out to private for-profit carriers.

As it stands now, consumers and the government have no rights or leverage, and big Pharma and the insurance industry have it all. The government can't negotiate prices (unlike the VA and Medicaid, and most other governments in the world), guaranteeing that we are paying the highest prices possible. Consumers, once they choose a plan, are locked in, but the coverage isn't. Carriers can change the drugs they cover or don't at any time.

It's happened to my Dad. He and my Uncle spent hours picking the right plan, one that would cover all of his very expensive medications, and the less expensive ones, too. And it did, initially. A few months later something went awry - plans merged, and his coverage was changed. Guess what? No more coverage for the expensive drugs, sorry, but that's how it goes. He's still paying the premiums, but not getting anything back, really.

Bait and switch.

In the business world that's considered dishonest and a crime.

In the insurance industry it's just standard operating procedure.


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