Friday, August 28, 2009

Fan Fiction

The YouTube video of Mike Rogers' opening statement on health care has been popping up on quite a few conservative blogs lately, as posters excitedly swoon over his "common sense" stance on health care reform.

There's no question that Mr. Rogers is a persuasive speaker. He has a friendly demeanor and an ordinary-guy style; he's known for his use of heart-tugging emotional anecdotes to make a point.

The only problem? All that emotion camouflages a lot of bad information.

Mr. Rogers is openly skeptical of government's role in health care
The very innovation of who we are is what got us here, and it wasn't the federal government and it wasn't Washington, D.C.
Where is the "here" that this swell innovation has brought us? "Here" is where an American Journal of Medicine study found that 62.1% of all bankruptcies in 2007 were caused by medical problems. Three-quarters of those declaring bankruptcy for medical reasons had health insurance. Most were well-educated home owners with middle-class occupations.

Yet Mr. Rogers continues to rail against the dark results of government involvement:
They can actually go in and unenroll individuals -- unprecedented power... They can rip you off your own invididual plan. They can disenroll your whole company off a certain plan.
That sounds pretty awful... until you realize that private insurance companies already unenroll individuals and companies without their consent.

This is called rescission, and it is still legal for private insurers to unenroll members without warning.

Rescinding thousands of policyholders a year enabled California insurers to save millions of dollars. Health Net Inc., for example, figured that it avoided $35 million in medical expenses over six years. The loss of coverage left individuals awash in medical bills and without healthcare when they needed it most, and it left many hospitals and physicians with uncollectable debt. (emphasis added)

Mr. Rogers has spoken openly about being diagnosed with bladder cancer as a teenager, and firmly asserts that he wouldn't be alive today if cost-conscious bureaucrats had interfered with his treatment.

He's apparently unaware of the interference already being run by bureaucrats in the insurance industry. This year, the non-partisan Kaiser Family Foundation issued a report on the problems faced by cancer patients who are covered by private insurance.

For these patients, having private health insurance at the time of their cancer diagnosis did not protect them from high out-of-pocket costs – leaving them with large debts to cover their treatment costs and forcing some to skip or delay necessary treatments.

“The stories of people with cancer in this study and video documentary show what our earlier survey work found: that the insurance system often fails people when they need it most, when they get really sick,” said Kaiser Family Foundation President and CEO Drew Altman, Ph.D.

“Cancer patients too often find out that their insurance doesn't protect them when they need care the most,” said John R. Seffrin, Ph.D., national chief executive officer of the American Cancer Society. “High out-of-pocket costs coupled with the high cost of insurance premiums can force cancer patients to incur huge debt, and to delay or forgo life-saving treatments."

The crazy thing is that Mr. Rogers, a beneficiary of generous government health coverage for most of his life, is a staunch defender of the health care status quo.

Wonder if it has anything to do with the money he and his PAC have received from health-related industries?

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