Good News for People Who Love Bad News

Break out the champagne, spending on healthcare is down:

The economic crisis in the United States has reduced the use of routine medical care, and the cutbacks here are much deeper than in countries with universal health care systems, researchers say in a new report.






26 replies
  1. 1
    cleek says:

    the invisible hand is washing itself of us!

  2. 2
    Gene says:

    From the insurers’ perspective, this is the desired outcome of “consumer-driven” healthcare products. Pay premia, don’t use the product.

  3. 3
    gypsy howell says:

    You just know this is going to be touted as great news and a positive sign that the health care market is “working.”

  4. 4
    mai naem says:

    It’s foam finger time again. USA Number One!!! USA Number One!!! USA Number One!!!

  5. 5
    Michael says:

    Cue the Lee Greenwood again.

    “Ah’m proud to be ‘Murkin, where at least Ah know Ah’m fraaeeeeeeee…….”

  6. 6
    Michael says:

    Oh, something else – if there are any lurking glibertarians, I’d like to know which emergency rooms one can go to for chemo, radiation treatment or colonoscopies. Does a poor, uninsured person have to wait until a tumor is protruding from the skin before he or she goes there, or are they offering that service in advance?

    Thanks in advance for any information you can impart.

  7. 7
    WereBear says:

    This is something I’ve been ranting about for decades; we’re “number one” in fantastically expensive, last ditch procedures, but probably “number eleventy billion” in the basic prevention that would save both oodles of dollars and human suffering.

    I mean, don’t the Republicans want to save oodles of dollars?

  8. 8
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @WereBear:

    I mean, don’t the Republicans want to save oodles of dollars?

    Not if it means admitting they were wrong.

  9. 9
    PeakVT says:

    Break out the champagne sad trombone, spending on healthcare is down delayed

    Expect a surge of root canals, toe amputations, glaucoma diagnoses, and the like in a couple of years, all at a much higher cost than prevention.

    But as long as health insurance companies stay profitable, it’s all good, right?

  10. 10

    So routine healthcare expenditures are down, but what does the author of the linked piece use to define “routine”? At the end of the piece he quotes a UC Berkley prof:

    “Discretionary health care, like other discretionary spending, is likely to go down in difficult economic times,” Mr. Catalano said. “And you see a bigger effect where there are higher out-of-pocket costs. We do not know how much of the forgone health care will result in serious illness.”

    Using this quote is misleading at best. Much “routine” medical care IS NOT discretionary in the sense that one should forego it. Annual medical exams, well baby exams, pre-natal care, etc. are all “routine” but should never be considered discretionary.

    Ah, nothing like being jerked off by the “invisible hand” … again.

  11. 11
    Persia says:

    @The Grand Panjandrum: Yeah, I want to know what the numbers are on emergency room visits, now. IIRC they’re up already.

  12. 12
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    I have been putting off going to the doctor for a couple of routine things until September. At that point, we got off the crappy insurance I have through the American Bar Association and on the very good and affordable UW-Madison insurance that comes with my wife’s PhD student status.

  13. 13
    Michael says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    I have been putting off going to the doctor for a couple of routine things until September. At that point, we got off the crappy insurance I have through the American Bar Association and on the very good and affordable UW-Madison insurance that comes with my wife’s PhD student status.

    My bar association offers really crappy insurance for a lot of money, a price in excess of my excessive mortgage.

    Instead, I’ve got a policy with a 15K deductible for each family member. It still costs about 5K a year to have a policy which doesn’t really pay for anything.

  14. 14
    Apsaras says:

    Yeah, speaking anecdotally, I know I’ve foregone the routine doctor/dental visits this year. If I’m not having a serious problem, it’s the sort of thing that’s easy to put off. Plus, despite being a federal employee, the sheer volume of bullshit I’ve had to put up with from Aetna just to get my teeth cleaned is ridiculous. (Is that shit supposed to cost >$500)

  15. 15
    beltane says:

    Well, the Republicans have always said that health care is a luxury to be enjoyed only by the rich. It would seem that they are right. Let freeeeeedom ring!!

  16. 16
    Mark S. says:

    @Michael:

    15K deductible?

  17. 17
    Alwhite says:

    @Michael:

    Suddenly I don’t feel so bad about my own crappy plan – thanks! Sorry, that was sarcastic I am not really enjoying your situation.

    I’m still afraid that the current condition as we roll out the new program just passed will see higher costs for most, if not all American’s. Given that the full impact is still years away it is unknowable how Congress, and more importantly the ill-informed electorate, will respond. My fear is that our masters will use the increased cost plus whatever horror stories they can gin up about malpractice or unavailable service to put the full cost of health care on each of us so that we can enjoy the full benefits of the free market. Its a guarantee that costs will go down as fewer people will be able to afford care & avoid preventative measures.

    The term I ‘like’: fisted by the invisible hand.

  18. 18
    The Moar You Know says:

    I see the invisible hand has taken to strangling patients in their beds.

    This country is occupied by a bunch of idiots. Smart folk already knew that we have had “death panels” for decades – they’re called “claims adjusters” and “benefits advisers”.

    @Apsaras: Aetna is the worst health care provider I’ve ever dealt with, period.

  19. 19
    Sly says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    Atena sent me a letter back in May, informing me that they had dropped my group policy in January. The implication of this being that I had been without health insurance for five months before they decided to tell me. The kicker was that the letter was mistakenly sent to people in my group plan when it was an entirely different plan that was dropped. A clear product of an efficiently run, privately controlled bureaucracy.

    So yeah… Aetna is shit.

  20. 20
    JITC says:

    @Michael:

    This is what I say every time someone says to me that “everyone has medical care in this country” because of the existence of emergency rooms. EVERYONE who has ever said this to me this thinks medical care is for broken bones, car accidents and bad splinters. EVERYONE who has said this to me is relatively young and luckily healthy. EVERYONE who has said this to me has employer provided insurance.

    These are people who know me and yet I have to remind them that my family is self-employed and therefore we have no employer provided insurance. We are subjected to the market.

    More importantly, I have to remind them that despite being relatively young (late 30s) and otherwise healthy, that didn’t let me escape a melanoma diagnosis. The point being that something major can happen to anyone at any age that ISN’T covered by an emergency room.

    Thankfully, we had insurance before the diagnosis. But we fight them everyday. The melanoma specialist my (in-network) dermatologist referred me to is out of network. The hospital he is affiliated with is in-network, so my call to my insurance company about coverage gave me the impression he was in-network too. So my hospital bills are covered, but NOT bills from the oncologist.

    My plan does have some out of network coverage, but only after a huge deductible is met and they only pay the “negotiated rate” and I have to pay the difference. Can someone please explain how there is a negotiated rate for someone they didn’t negotiate with?

    Michael, your point is an important one. And it’s important to know that in a for-profit health insurance system, even if you HAVE coverage, you’re not really covered.

  21. 21
    sherparick says:

    As Congressman Grayson stated, the good Christians in the Conservative Movement preferred plan for health care is to tell people to get rich if they want health care, and if they don’t get rich, than don’t get sick, but if you do get sick, die quickly.

  22. 22
    fasteddie9318 says:

    I don’t want to rain on anybody’s parade here, but I’m afraid this is only phase one of the health care final solution. It’s fantastic news that the peasant can no longer afford basic health care, as it frees up resources for those who deserve them and promises to enrich those business titans down the road when the peasant requires much costlier emergent care for all the ailments that could have been dealt with in a basic preventative care scenario. However, until we have finally institutionalized the herding and harvesting of the peasant for organs and other bodily materiel that can be better allocated among society’s winners, we cannot claim to have won this war. This is a great first step, but we must not become complacent.

  23. 23
    Ruckus says:

    @fasteddie9318:

    Nice.

    Now on to more important stuff. How do I get to be one of the chosen? And I don’t mean organ donor. Is there a secret handshake? Some blood letting ritual? Do I have to service MoDo? OK I’m not going that far.

    I have a list of the reasons that I don’t think I’ll get there but it’s way too long to list here.

  24. 24
    fasteddie9318 says:

    @Ruckus:

    No worries, we don’t discriminate. As long as your personal wealth puts you in the top 2% of Americans you should be OK. We may expand that to top 5% depending on how fruitful the harvest of the bottom 50% turns out to be.

  25. 25
    Ruckus says:

    @fasteddie9318:
    I might just make it if we can do some McMath and invert my personal wealth estimates.

  26. 26
    Anne Laurie says:

    @fasteddie9318: WIN! By which I mean, of course, GIANT EFFIN FAIL, as we all get fisted by the Invisible Hand.

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