What’s Next–Debtor’s Prison?
Okay posts on printing and Self-Publishing are going to have to wait once again. It seems that the last post, We Sure Swallowed the Health Care Lie, I seriously stirred the pot. If you go back and read my post and the attached comments, you will find that sentiments are all over the place. The truth is we don’t know what to do about the corporate Godzilla’s wreaking havoc in our lives. We know who they are, and there is plenty of finger pointing to go around, but our backs are against the wall and there isn’t a rescuer in sight.
Does this sound a tad dramatic? It is, but unless we see the monsters for what they really are we won’t muster the will to fight them. Tracy commented on my post, and I quote, “I emphatically agree with you regarding your views on health insurance…perhaps because I, too, am self-employed and have been for 31 years. My Blue Shield plan just increased about 3 months ago by 22% and is going up another 18% in December (when I enter a new age bracket). I worked in the housing industry and my income is down 90% while my health insurance will have increased 40%. I have been charging my health insurance premiums since January of this year because I am afraid to cancel it because, as you stated, it will be impossible to get health insurance then. Something has GOT to change!”
Tracy’s example is representative of the trouble many of us are finding ourselves in; let’s look at the the history of the unholy trio: US Congress, Health Insurance Companies, and the Financial Industry; and discover the careful step-by-step path that led us into this unconscionable position.
- 1920’s Health Insurance created by Blue Cross/Blue Shield.
- 1929 estimated annual average health care expense for American families totaled $108.00.
- 1933 Federal Government passes Glass-Steagall Act wherein “banks, brokerages, and insurance companies were effectively barred from entering each others’ industries, and investment banking and commercial banking were separated.” Post by Kitty Wampus
- 1940′s saw the entrance of commercial insurance companies into health insurance after seeing the success of Blue Cross/Blue Shield (source EHNet).
- 1960 Health Care expense rose to an average of 6.6% of a family’s annual income. It was no longer a luxury–it was now a necessity.
- 1973 the last year middle-class and poor Americans saw an increase in real earnings–only the top 20% saw gain–the bottom 80% has been stagnant for 36 years.
- 1980 congress passed Depository Institutions Deregulation and Monetary Control which broadened lending powers and banks rushed into real estate lending and speculative lending.
- 1980 Ronald Reagan elected president, took office 1981 (note: Regan didn’t start banking deregulation).
- 1981 Economic Recovery Act spurred a boom in real estate.
- 1982 Garn-St.Germain Act authorized money market savings accounts in banks and savings and loans. Seriously undermining their security.
- 1999 President Clinton, Republicans agree to deregulation of US financial system effectively nullifying all of the protections of Glass-Steagall Act of 1933.
- 2001 Health care insurance premiums risen three times more than wages. With company health care the average person paid $2,827.00 including premiums and deductibles. Health Reform.Gov
- 2005 Bankruptcy laws changed to protect banks at the expense of customers. Banks who encouraged consumers to participate in reckless free-spending credit card lifestyles feared to face the results of their own actions.
- 2006 Average spending on health care including premiums and deductibles rose 30% in five years to $3,744.00. For those without company sponsored group insurance the costs were even more. HealthCare.gov
- 2008 ushered in the biggest financial failing since the Great Depression. US Government offers bailout money to head off economic collapse. Banks promise to renegotiate home mortgages, instead raise credit card interest rates by double or more
So here’s the bottom line as I see it:
- The way to unimaginable wealth is to create and market a product that becomes a necessity, like cigarettes and cocaine. The health insurance industry did just that. How? By allowing costs to spiral up. Since medical providers have had unrestrained ability to charge outrageous fees, i.e. the ten dollar dose of Tylenol, ancillary costs and services have skyrocketed too. Who now can afford treatment for even simple procedures without insurance? Furthermore, should a policyholder contract an illness or suffer an injury while covered, their options of changing insurance companies becomes impossible. Pre-existing condition clauses keep people stuck. Drop your insurance with a pre-existing condition and you may never qualify for coverage again.
- The financial industry has manipulated the government into lifting all of the protections that were implemented to prevent the collapse experienced during the Great Depression. What happened? Is it any surprise that the country is experiencing a deep recession? It is okay with the CEO’s because they take their bonuses whether the company makes money or not. It is the workforce and small businesses are hit hardest. Big banks are recovering nicely because of bailout money, higher credit card charges, and tougher bankruptcy laws.
- People like my commenter, Tracy, find themselves charging their rising
health insurance costs on credit cards that can, and do, double interest and fees without restraint. If she can’t find another way to pay those usurious interest rates and outrageous policy premiums she will lose everything she has.
- Congress, the health insurance, and financial industries have us just where they want us. We have become slaves of the system just as surely as blacks were plantation slaves over 200 years ago. If you want proof, just try to get away without paying income taxes. Go to a hospital without an insurance card. Refuse to pay exorbitant credit card fees. Do all of those things and see what happens.