The Health Insurance Mafia

Here is a great editorial in the Wall Street Journal on how the health insurance industry acts like the Mafia:

Most discussions about the rising cost of health care emphasize the need to get more people insured. The assumption seems to be that insurance – rather than the service delivered by doctor to patient – is the important commodity.

But perhaps the solution to much of what currently plagues us in health care – rising costs and bureaucracy, diminishing levels of service – rests on a radically different approach: fewer people insured.

The Los Angeles Times also featured a “doctor against health insurance” editorial on Wednesday (HT to John Goodman):

When doctors break free from the shackles of insurance companies, they can practice medicine the way they always hoped they could. And they can get back to the customer service model in which the paramount incentive is providing the best care. Only then can doctors reclaim the simple dignity of any businessman: These are my doughnuts; only I and my customers can determine their worth. (At the end of each week, I will donate some to the needy, but I will not let a third party set the price.)

And when patients are the customers, doctors will listen when they ask for services not on the insurance company menu. If an urgent need arises after hours, patients want to be able to call their own doctor. Patients want to be able to e-mail their doctor with non-urgent questions and to fax them interesting articles. They want to be educated, not just medicated. They want to know they can get in to see their doctor the same day if needed, and that their doctor will be the one taking care of them if they are hospitalized. If doctors had fewer patients, meeting all of these needs would be easy.