Fucked Up Health Insurance Priorities

Community Health Plan advertisement for soccer event

My “non-profit” Medicaid health insurer (all the others in WA are for-profit!) doesn’t cover all kinds of providers, facilities, treatments, and medical devices. It requires prior authorization for lots of things rich people get automatically. Their nurse advice line must be contracted out, because the call center is in Texas (CHPW headquarters is a block from me). They don’t cover my sleep doctor, the orthopedist I was referred to, the version of diabetes medication I was recently prescribed, EMDR, or the blood glucose meter I have that requires a minimum of blood, to cite a few examples off the top of my head. They don’t let me see ANY specialist without a referral from my primary care doctor.

But they can somehow afford to spend money organizing and advertising a free event with professional athletes in Columbia City. I’ve gotten email, Facebook postings, and maybe even paper mail promoting it. This is a blatant waste of money. Estimates on marketing and administration costs in the US health system range widely from about 5% to 50%. Administration of some kind will always be necessary, but we could greatly reduce it in part by simplifying the system. Isn’t Medicare’s administration cost around 3%? In the short term, Medicaid should simply be absorbed into Medicare–economies of scale there, less cost for states, and better health care for the poor. Marketing health care or insurance or other products (PILLS!) is pure evil. We are patients, not consumers. Advertising has absolutely no justifiable place in health care. This money is pure waste that drives up demand for expensive and unnecessary products and overall health spending. And for a non-profit insurer covering poor people, I find it totally unjust and unconscionable that they prioritize spending for this kind of bullshit over health care for people who need it.