America: Home of the For-Profit Health Care System

Commentary
By Rosemary Piser
Associate Editor

One of the primary reasons why the United States will never be able to have the type of national health care program found in places like Canada, Great Britain, or France is due to the fact that the delivery of health care in the United States is a for-profit business. While you will never hear the American Medical Association, hospital associations, health insurance or pharmaceutical companies publicly broadcast this fact, the truth is that the delivery of health care in the United States is based on the free-market principles of any other publicly held corporation, i.e., manage your business profitably for the benefit of your shareholders.

To prove this point, let’s look at the most obvious example, the health insurance industry. The health insurance business model is the same as the automobile insurance model. If you have a good driving record, you get great car insurance rates. Get some speeding tickets, and your rates go up. Add a serious accident or two and your carrier will likely cancel you. And once your driving record is bad, you will end up paying the highest rates allowed or not be able to get your car insured at all.

Such is the case with health insurance. Stay well and be blessed to have a family of healthy people and your health insurance rates are affordable. Become ill and/or have a family history of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure or cancer, you will pay more. Utilize your health care services more than average, you may get dropped. And if you are unhealthy, you may not be able to get health insurance at all because just as is the case with automobile insurance, the only way for an insurance company to be profitable, is to cover more people who potentially will not need to utilize the services that their premiums are paying for.

Now before you get all self-righteous about those awful health insurance companies for making all that money, it’s time to be honest about who is profiting from the current system. Anyone who has a retirement fund, IRA or investment account more than likely has investments in health insurance, pharmaceuticals, and medical equipment companies. You might have to do some serious research to find these companies because they operate under names that don’t automatically say ‘health insurance company’ for example. But if your investments are making money, you can likely thank the U.S. health care system as they have always been profitable and that is why they are good investments.

Since we all are still recovering from the money we lost when the stock market went south, there is no way the government can allow the health care industry to go bankrupt or legislate it in a manner that significantly reduces profits. Otherwise, one day when you’re watching the nightly news, you’ll be seeing CEO’s of health care-related companies sitting before Congress asking for their bailout money while voters clamor for the heads of their elected officials who have caused even more erosion of their financial futures.

So for those who fear health care reform because they believe it will eliminate their ability to continue to have coverage from their exiting health insurer, rest assured that this will NEVER happen.

The sad truth is that the United States simply can not afford to pull the plug.