Taxes pay for Firetrucks, why not Ambulances

I\’ve always had health insurance and not had many medical issues (knock on wood,) and so could claim some ignorance to the health care issues. For instance, I\’ve never had an emergency where I needed to ride in an ambulance to the emergency room.  But things like Dennis Kucinich\’s quote \”60% of Bankruptcies Are Because Of Hospital Bills! 80% of Them Are Insured!\” signal that there is something wrong.

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In thinking about the issue today, I came to a realization: Firetrucks and Police respond because of emergencies and get paid for through taxes, not an exorbitant fee because my house burned down or I had the bum stealing things arrested. If a firetruck (and the whole fire hydrant infrastructure) are paid for by taxes, why shouldn\’t a health emergency be paid for?

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One of my few experiences with an ambulance was when a team mate on my football team was unconscious. I later found out that the ambulance ride to the hospital cost him around $1500 (he had to pay for that because his deductible had not been met yet,) but insurance covered most of his hospital stay (post deductible.)

On the other hand, when a neighbor\’s house burned down, they didn\’t need homeowners insurance for the fire department to come and possibly salvage some remnant of their homes.

I see no excuse why an emergency is not an emergency. Does it currently work with the ambulance/hospital infrastructure? not in most cases.  Many hospitals are privatized, and many ambulances are private services. I have not heard of the term volunteer ambulance and health care system. But why not? Should ambulances really be competing with which hospital will give them a higher commission for bringing them patients? Should a service that I could accomplish in my car (limited medical assistance) or in a $2/mile taxi cost $250 a mile? To make this analogy, and the system work, there needs to be county and city hospitals again.

Preemptive care

The relationship has some issues after emergencies though because the fire department doesn\’t check on your house each year to make sure it won\’t burn… well at least not for free. But, the police do tend to help suggest ways to be safer. Neither has the correlation to reduced costs as much as preemptive medicine. Going to the doctor and learning about diabetes, being overweight, and having a healthy diet will prevent that emergency when you have a heart attack or stroke, and can help you look for signs.

But sprained muscles, bruised bones, broken or chipped teeth or cavities… these aspects have no immediate cost and should not cost loads of money. Nor should everybody be billed because Johny is athletic, but breaks bones… gets in fights… or refuses to brush his teeth.

The Costs

The insurance industry is making money in two ways here. Because they have lawyers that will suit after a medical incident, doctors now need more mal-practice insurance, and because mal-practice insurance costs money, customers need to pay more because they get more \”value\” out of their health insurance. A correction in the courts limiting discretionary damages could be useful.

Just remember, an insurance company only makes money if they pay out less than they are paid in, and if you look at the success of many of these corporate companies, or look at the compensation packages that they offer their employees, you will see that they are not non-profit companies, in fact, many are publicly traded companies trying to perform for shareholders like Cigna. Effectively, your medical care is paying for the middleman\’s Maserati, it infrastructure, investment advisors, and more. Why shouldn\’t rates decrease and people\’s money go toward the actual care infrastructure.

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If you\’re not convinced that the insurance agency is wrong for health care:

Cigna wavered over getting an insured 17 year old girl a liver transplant, until they said yes, too late.d

Then, if you read more on this reason.com article, you will see that the American expenses on health care don\’t provide less cost or particularly better service than France or Germany\’s \”socialized\” system.

\”The most striking similarity between America, France and Germany, however, is the model of \”insurance\” upon which their health care systems are based. In other insurance markets, the more coverage you want, the more you have to pay for it. Consider auto insurance, for instance. If you want everything—from oil changes to collision protection—you\’d have to pay more than someone who wants just basic collision protection. That\’s not how it works in health care.\”

Of course, this works like a lot of conspiracy theories, the employment offered by health insurance companies might be so large in that it is employing all of these IT works, CEOs, Financiers, Lobbyists, politicians, etc that when it is shut down too many people will be out of jobs!