The High Cost of Privatized Healthcare

Advertisement encouraging people to see a doctor instead of going to the emergency room.

A "non-profit" sock-puppet of the private health insurance industry.

You may have seen these advertisements if, for instance, you have eyes and are have looked up outside. They are everywhere on billboards all around the city. According to the fine print (about 12 point on the full-page ad in the Brighton-Pittsford Post), they are "Sponsored by the Monroe County Medical Society, Finger Lakes Health Systems Agency, and Excellus BlueCross BlueShield" and then in even finer print (about 6 point), "A nonprofit independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association."

The Monroe County Medical Society is some kind of physician organization in the area. Their vague mission is to "unite to consider and act on matters affecting the practice of medicine, to extend medical knowledge and enlighten the public in the best interests of the health of the people of the county of Monroe." Likewise, The Finger Lakes Health Systems Agency "is an independent local organization working to improve health care in Rochester and the Finger Lakes region. We analyze the needs of the community, bring together organizations to solve health problems, and measure the results." And then there's Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, a corporation that sells health insurance and is the "nonprofit independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association." The BlueCross BlueShield Association is the nebulous parent organization whose function I don't understand as it relates to Excellus BlueCross BlueShield.

Anyway, all these shell games and misdirection align to provide what seems to be a concrete and simple statement: leave the emergency room for emergency services and see a physician at jeir office for non-emergency care.

But why would someone visit the E.R. if they could see a doctor? I know I wouldn't. However, I also know the secret answer: I only have a doctor because I became his patient while I had health insurance. If I did not have health insurance, I would have been refused. What I've found is that doctors generally do not accept patients who pay cash.

So I did a little bit of research on the glorious Internet. My question: do people in England head to the emergency room when they have a cold? After digging around a bit, I didn't find an answer either way. My supposition is, why would they? The E.R. is an unpleasant place, and if they could equally well go to a much more pleasant general practitioner's office, then I can only imagine they would. At least I would.

Thus, this "ER Crowding" problem is yet another cost of the profit-driven private health insurance industry in the United States. I find it appalling that funds that could have gone to serve nationalized health care were instead wasted on a huge advertising campaign.

The people want nationalized health care. The physicians want nationalized health care. The only ones who don't are the corporations of the health insurance industry and they own Congress.

Shame on you, members of The Monroe County Medical Society. Shame on you, Finger Lakes Health Systems Agency.