All done in the name of cost-shifting. And profit maximization.
Conservatives love to complain about government bureaucracies, but insurance companies are masters of the bureaucratic art. (Picture from Burningyourmoney, a typical screed against government red tape and waste.)
We got a taste of this when our young daughter had a cancer scare this spring. (It was benign.) The paperwork, and the drip, drip, drip, of bills, some for as little as $10, all over a simple biopsy consuming just a few hours.
We were lucky. If you're unlucky, as Martin Bayne is unlucky, the game gets deadly serious. You know what's going on, you know why. It's all a search for loopholes, excuses that can either cut off payments or raise your costs.
We chatted for about an hour today because, apparently, his insurer found a way to raise his premiums 39%. He sent copies of the relevant letters and a complaint over its' executives' pay.
His carrier has paid him over $350,000 over the years, he has gotten far more than he ever paid in, yet the game of complexity and opacity continues.
Meanwhile lawyers get rich, the people running the carriers get very rich, and those who thought they were covered are drowned in paperwork, excuses, and bills they cannot pay.
So there, I think, we have the real difference between a public and private health care system.
In a public system bureaucracy is just waste. But in a private system, bureaucracy is a profit center.
As the debate over health care heats up, this is the point I'll remember most.