Tag Archives: UPMC

Dear Newt: Will there finally be healthcare for all on the Moon?


Who will win the race for Moon Colony Healthcare Provider?

Presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich promises to colonize the Moon if he is elected. I guess he will let the hard questions be answered by NASA, but I suspect he hasn’t really thought this through.

For instance, are we claiming the Moon as a territory of the United States? We ARE the only ones who have been there, so I suppose that’s just as good a reason as any. Hard to believe we’re considering taking a place over that no one else wants… what do we know about the Moon that other governments don’t?

Many questions need to be answered before I become a Moon colonist. For instance, if the Moon becomes American territory, can its residents vote? And can Moon children grow up to become president some day? But the important question for me, as a mother and a person destined to become old, is, “What will my Moon citizen health care options will be?”

Let’s say your family volunteers to help populate the Moon. On the way there your child comes down with the flu. You cannot receive medical benefits until you complete your mandatory six-month quarantine period. And besides, the medical plan considers this a “pre-existing condition” since it happened before you landed on Lunar soil. Luckily, you discover that Moon dust actually deters the development of the flu virus and your child gets well quickly. You have dodged a bullet this time!

See, this whole Moon colony idea is just a wee bit premature. If we take a few decades and get some really smart people with no presidential aspirations whatsoever together to plan this brave new world, we might be able to fix a few things that aren’t working so well down here on the mother planet. This could be our one chance at a “do-over.”

That will never happen.

I suspect that what the government will do is set up some of their cronies in various industries with exclusive rights to provide services to the Moon colonization project. There will be a race to be the first bank, the first casino, the first Moonrover dealership, and the first health care provider.

I would not be surprised to learn there is already a bidding war between Highmark and UPMC over who gets that first health care contract. Those two not-for-profit healthcare systems are already duking it out for total control of the market. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the first highly produced commercials for their Moon Medicine Research team rolled out during the Super Bowl this year.

No, there will be no improvements in how things run on the Moon. Because we still don’t have consensus down here about what’s broken, and the really smart people who know how to fix things are staying away from politics in droves.

We are going to start a new society up there and we’re going to screw that one up too.

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45,000 “dogs” will die from lack of insurance


According to a report on National Public Radio, 45,000 Americans will die this year because they have no insurance and cannot afford treatment.    In comparison, nearly 41,000 Americans (women and men) are projected to  die from breast cancer alone this year.  We don’t know how many of them will die because they have no insurance, but we can be relatively certain that some of them will not get the treatment they need because they cannot afford insurance or have been dropped by their carrier.

The conservative Washington Times recently reported the story of  Mr. Ian Pearl of New York who has multiple sclerosis and requires around the clock care.  Rather than terminate his policy, his carrier decided to cease to offer policies for medical conditions requiring such costly care.  

Guardian Life Insurance Company operates in several states and already terminated policies with provisions for treatment for such serious and life threatening conditions as MS.  Their rationale was that the policies were too expensive for businesses to purchase anyway.  A spokesman for Guardian was interviewed for the article and explained it as follows:

As a business, though, we have to offer plans that enough customers want,”  said Guardian spokesman Richard Jones. “But in this particular case the expense of the plan meant that most small businesses were not able or were not willing to purchase it. “

“This has been through the courts. Guardian’s activities were upheld by the courts as well as by the New York State Department of Insurance. ”

“We certainly don’t think this particular case has anything to do with health care reform,” Mr. Jones said.

Of COURSE you don’t think this has anything to do with health care reform because it is your industry that needs reforming. And this is exactly the reason reform cannot wait any longer.  

The article goes on to state that ” Guardian reported profits of $437 million last year, a 50 percent increase over $292 million in 2007.  The company’s investment income totaled $1.5 billion that year, a small increase from the year earlier.”

Ok, so, sorry Mr. Pearl, its not personal, its just good business.  But wait.  There’s more:

In an e-mail to four other Guardian executives entered into evidence in the Pearls’ suit, company Vice President Tim Birely discussed how the company could “eliminate this entire block to get rid of the few dogs.”

According to some executives at Guardian Life Insurance Company these are not people, these are dogs.  Whether they meant the seriously ill people were dogs, or the policies themselves were dogs, is not clear.  The memo wasn’t meant for public consumption.  But the point is these policy holders are dragging down the profits and deserve to be cut loose.  The insurance industry’s version of survival of the fittest.

Asked about the use of the phrases such as “get rid of” and “dogs,” Guardian spokesman Richard Jones said, “I’m not aware of any language related to any of the things that you just mentioned, no.”

Maybe in order to do your job, Mr. Jones, you must take a lesson from the tobacco industry and dehumanize your victims, sorry –  customers.  Because if its just good business that usually means it has nothing to do with humanity and everything to do with the bottom line. 

Here in Pittsburgh I will believe UPMC and Highmark are actually in trouble when they stop showing those incessant commercials telling us how much they care about us.  If they can still pay for the commercials, they’re doing just fine in my opinion. 

Before they raise our premiums and co-pays again next year, maybe they would consider taking 50 percent of those ads off the air and see if that doesn’t help the old bottom line. 

C’mon, toss us old doggies a bone, won’t ya?

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