Metroblog

A one-time school project gone terribly, terribly wrong.

21 December 2007

Merry £µ©λin' Christmas, From CIGNA Healthcare

Breaking the silence once again to bring you a happy little Christmas tale:

Another insurance company displaying the sort of behaviour that makes US health care the appalling misery it is. Doubtless they'll have to take the word "caring" off their pamphlets now.

A 17-year-old girl developed Leukemia. The odds of surviving are reasonable, given the availability of a marrow donor.

Well glory £µ©λin' hallelujah, there was one: the girl's brother. He donated.

Unfortunately the girl developed liver failure. At which point some @$$#0!3 with a slipstick for a heart decided that the insurance company's responsibility had ended.

Because while the odds of recovering and living a healthy life with even a partial-liver transplant are quite good, the best of American medical science can do nothing to help the patient whose money has run out.

The numbers men had spoken, the girl was to be treated like a used car that's outlived its warranty. "Happy Thanksgiving to you, our soon-to-be-former client and condolences to your family."

After some bad press and a protest outside their offices, the heartless ©0©λ$µ©λ3٣$ decided, in a move they no doubt considered bold and controversial, to act like human beings for once. At this point the patient had been a vegetable for six weeks.

On December 20th, the company reversed its earlier Scrooginess and magnanimously granted the girl the right to live. Unfortunately she died hours after the reversal.

That jolly old US medical system--still failing the folks who need it most. But at least it's not socialist!

The company's position on the reversal:
"Our hearts go out to Nataline and her family, as they endure this terrible ordeal," the company said in an e-mail statement before she died. "... CIGNA HealthCare has decided to make an exception in this rare and unusual case and we will provide coverage should she proceed with the requested liver transplant."
How kind, noble, and god-damned generous of them. Wonder what sincere statement they'll make now?

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15 Comments:

At 11:15 AM, Blogger Slave to the dogs said...

As bad as this is, I certainly don't want our government running our healthcare system.

But insurance companies are evil. I don't know what the right answer is.

 
At 11:51 AM, Blogger Metro said...

Actually, I feel that the problem is that health care reform is, in fact, left to the government in the US.

Under the current regime this can only breed corruption and "bottom-line" thinking.

The single-payer system works, not perfectly, but fairly well. There are anecdotes about people choosing to go south and pay for private care rather than put up with something they consider sub-par, but in most chases it's purely a spending decision by people well able to afford such care. Bully for them, says I.

And regardless of the failings of a single-payer system, at least everybody gets the maximum possible coverage.

To return to your original point: What could government do that would be much worse than what insurance companies do?

And as you observe, it is "our" government. At least you'd get a voice once every four years.

Does the Blue Cross board pay much attention to their customers?

 
At 12:23 PM, Blogger Slave to the dogs said...

But Metro, if your rich are willing to come south to pay for our private care, doesn't that say our private care is better?

I'm a consultant who has worked with both government and private organizations. The government organizations in general waste huge sums (in the case of healthcare I believe it would be trillions of dollars) of money and generally run much less efficiently than private organizations. I believe privates run more efficiently because they have to. They answer to their stockholders. And the government? Well hell, let's just raise taxes again. Endless supply of funds. Let's not bother to think about how we can change things to make them work better.

Sure, I'd get a voice every four years. And how long would our behemoth federal system take to execute any changes that are requested? No thank you. Look at our debacle in Iraq as an example. At least with a private insurer I can go find another if I'm not happy with the one I have.

 
At 12:27 PM, Blogger Slave to the dogs said...

Oh, and your question - "What could government do that would be much worse than what insurance companies do?"

I've also worked directly for the US Federal Government. My mother-in-law still works for them. There's a general mindset and lack of motivation to get any work done in that system that I'm extremely reluctant to trust my health to.

 
At 1:55 PM, Blogger Metro said...

Medical tourists travelling to the US (and increasingly, India) are a miniscule proportion of Canada's population.

It's not a case of private care being "better"--it's a case of being able to purchase exactly what you want when what you want doesn't fit the system.

Since the system even helps some urgent cases get work done in the US if the lineup is too long in Canada, you can imagine how demanding you'd have to be.

Some of them just can't stand four-to-a-room wards, so they pay for private ones.

The difference between Canadian and American health care is quite simply this: Under the Canadian system, everybody is covered to the maximum of what the plan will allow, and in many cases beyond.

In the US, forty million people and more go without health care of any kind.

Approximately ten times that number are underinsured, meaning that they're paying gobs of money into a system that may one day forbid their daughter the liver transplant that could save her life.

Given the choice, with all its flaws, I'll pick the Canadian system. It's saved my life at least once already.

"Lack of motivation to get anything done ..." and how would that apply to doctors and nurses, exactly?

Are you imagining an emergency room where the bays are empty, people are queuing up to get in, and a laconic nurse is busy reading "Soap Opera Digest"?

The US government already wastes billions into the health care system--if anything, moving to a single-payer system will create efficiencies simply by eliminating the spaghetti network of communications between differing insurance companies, government, and providers and recipients.

And everyone will be covered. Wouldn't that be nice?

Also--the government in Canada doesn't really run health care per se. Instead, it is the only paying customer, with the influence that conveys.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/healthcare/public_vs_private.html

 
At 3:30 PM, Blogger Slave to the dogs said...

"Are you imagining an emergency room where the bays are empty, people are queuing up to get in, and a laconic nurse is busy reading "Soap Opera Digest"?"

Of course not, I'm not simple.

Looking at my own profession, it's primarily the ones that can't cut it in the private sector that take governnment jobs. What I forsee happening in the medical field over time under socialist medicine is that it wouldn't continue to draw the best and brightest. It's the same reason we have so many terrible teachers in our public school system. It's just not worth it for somebody who can do better. Again, I don't want to trust my health to that.

"if anything, moving to a single-payer system will create efficiencies simply by eliminating the spaghetti network of communications between differing insurance companies, government, and providers and recipients."

In theory you are correct. But if anybody can make that process less efficient, it's the United States Federal Government.

You know what people refuse to acknowledge about the US healthcare system? It doesn't abandon people with no insurance. It DOES NOT. My mother is on disability and Medicaid. She's bipolar and epileptic. And she's never, ever had to go without treatment or medication.

I guess we're both lucky. Given your preferences, you're happier where you're at and I am happier where I am.

 
At 3:35 PM, Blogger Slave to the dogs said...

I just reread what I wrote about my mom, and it sounds like I'm actually making a case FOR government healthcare. :) However, listen to my mom and she'll sing an entirely different song. We Americans - never happy with what we have!

 
At 8:54 PM, Anonymous bagel said...

Wow. That's horrid!

We have Cigna. :(

 
At 12:37 PM, Anonymous G Eagle Esq said...

Bonjour M Metro et Mdm La Slave aux Chiens Mervallais et Magicales

The UK NHS is breathtakingly expensive (to the Government) ... but generally, it's there, when you need it

AND

It does not spell financial ruin to the family when a family Member needs

eg Gromits ...

eg a hernia operation ...

eg (in this Eagle's case) a Brain Transplant

eg blood pressure pills

eg 'flu jabs

Yr obedt servt etc

G Eagle

 
At 1:00 PM, Blogger Philipa said...

Such a miserable attitude from these people.

But I wish you and yours a very merry Christmas, Metro, and a happy new year.

 
At 3:19 AM, Blogger Philipa said...

And a merry Christmas to you Mr Eagle, Sir :-)

 
At 8:53 AM, Blogger Metro said...

@sttd, Bagel, G. Eagle Esq., and Philipa:

Indeed, merry Christmas to all of us.

 
At 11:12 AM, Blogger Lori said...

@ Slave to the dogs: "Looking at my own profession, it's primarily the ones that can't cut it in the private sector that take governnment jobs.... It's the same reason we have so many terrible teachers in our public school system. It's just not worth it for somebody who can do better. Again, I don't want to trust my health to that."

Wow. I don't know anything about you other than what you've written here, but I've been both a teacher and now a federal employee here in Canada, and I must say, I'm proud to have done both. The people I work with now are dedicated, caring and frugal, despite being part of the a group that "can't cut it" in the real world.

I wish you the courage to leave your cynicism behind going into 2008.

 
At 1:07 PM, Anonymous G Eagle Esq said...

Bonsoir, Mdm Lori

M Metro is cross and understandably cross

and Thank you for your sagacious observations - and for a timely corrective to this Eagle's intemperate dismissal of the efforts of so many well-meaning & struggling Public Servants

Interessant

So often in the NHS (& other Government facilities), it is the humble, disregarded "Lower Orders" (I do not want to romanticize these Creatures, but North-Americans call them low-paid "Nurses" & "Hospital Porters") who at the Sharp End are desperately anxious to please - it is they who actually heroically "make the System" work

They are doing what most of us do - our Inadequate Best

and

Despite the inadequacies of "the System", they provide the kindly humanity that is such a Comfort to Sufferers from Hernias & other afflictations that trouble a vulnerable and anxious Humanity (& Eagledom) as the Years go by

Alles Gute & Best Wishes for Xmas

I hope that the Peace of the Good Lord will in 2008 be yours & mine & all the Incisive M Metro's Visitors' !!!

G Eagle

 
At 2:10 PM, Blogger Slave to the dogs said...

@Lori - I'm sorry, that did come out as insulting to the many fine civil servants that do exist. But the sad fact is that I've known many well-qualified individuals who either avoided teaching or gave up on it due to the poor pay, the beaurocracy they had to deal with, and the number of parents who just don't care (another issue altogether). And the United States' declining primary education system is well documented.

As far as the Canadian government is concerned, I make no assumptions. I speak only of my own.

Something else regarding this situation just occured to me. It seems a violation of the Hippocratic oath on the part of the UCLA doctors to refuse this operation because her insurance would not pay for it. My father-in-law had a heart transplant. His insurance also would not cover it (this was 20 years ago). I'm pretty sure he didn't have the means to pay lined up before his doctors performed the transplant.

 

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