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Larry Page: You Worry Too Much About Medical Privacy 486

jfruh writes "Larry Page revealed that he'd been suffering from a vocal cord ailment that impaired his ability to speak for more than a year. The positive feedback he got from opening up about it inspired him to tell attendees at Google I/O that we should all be less uptight about keeping our medical records private. As far as Page is concerned, pretty much the only legitimate reason for worry on this score is fear of being denied health insurance. 'Maybe we should change the rules around insurance so that they have to insure people,' he said."
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Larry Page: You Worry Too Much About Medical Privacy

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  • by Taantric ( 2587965 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @12:39AM (#43748601)
    In the financial trading industry we have a term for those pundits who come on Bloomberg or CNBC and give advice on markets, stocks etc - they are talking their own book. So If they are extolling the virtues of a stock or a currency it usually means they are holding a large position in it themselves. Here we see Ole Larry talking his own book. These assholes would have you bare your entire life for them so they may sell you more shit you don't need. Fuck you Larry Page and Fuck you Google.
  • Not even close (Score:5, Insightful)

    by s.petry ( 762400 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @12:40AM (#43748609)

    The only reason to worry is to be insured? How about not being discriminated against in all kinds of areas (namely job hunting)? How about not pissing off a girlfriend when you have to clear up a STD from an Ex or a bad decision? How about not wanting the family to know you have a terminal disease?

    There are many reasons we want to keep our health issues private. I'm not going to discount that being able to talk to someone is helpful, but that is not even close to making them available to everyone all the time.

  • insure? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 17, 2013 @12:42AM (#43748613)

    just think rationally for a moment

    if you insure everyone, why dont you just make sure everyone get health care.

    big companies can make financial decisions about risk mitigation.

    for the rest of us, the insurance companies are just parasites. they rig the game.

    we need to stop discussing health, our health, in those terms

  • Nope. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FrankSchwab ( 675585 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @12:44AM (#43748627) Journal

    Sounds like someone who wasn't around for the beginning of the AIDS epidemic (or even the current state of the AIDS epidemic).

    There are some health issues that society isn't mature enough to handle. Most of them are sexual in nature - do you really want your STD diagnosis to be water-cooler conversation (Hey, Frank, who'd you pick up that case of the clap from?)? If I had a diagnosis that gave me a 25% chance of dying in the next year, I believe that I have the right to decide who knows that. How about as a potential CEO, having your anxiety disorder (handled nicely with drugs, thank you) bandied about the boardroom?

    There are other health issues that are a don't-care. Paralyzed vocal cords? Bummer, dude. Here, I'll tell you one about me - I have vitiligo. Bummer, dude. Exzema? Ingrown toenail? Bummer, dude. Hell, even erectile dysfunction is a prime-time advertising bonanza.

  • by Immerman ( 2627577 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @12:44AM (#43748631)

    Indeed "The only reason to worry about medical privacy is the GIANT FUCKING ELEPANT IN THE ROOM that can potentially TOTALLY SCREW OVER the vast majority of people in the country" And the rich wonder why people think they're out of touch.

  • Re:Not even close (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 17, 2013 @12:48AM (#43748651)

    Both Larry and Sergei are no longer connected with reality.. I don't begrudge them anything, but they are seriously in outer space.

  • Contradiction (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mfwitten ( 1906728 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @12:52AM (#43748675)

    Insurance is about risk management. Forcing a risk manager to ignore risk is about as dumb a suggestion as I've ever heard.

    The problem lies elsewhere; the problem lies in the lack of a free market; the problem lies in crony capitalism: Big Business and Big Government using each other to fleece people through coercion.

  • Pollyanna Page (Score:4, Insightful)

    by RandCraw ( 1047302 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @12:52AM (#43748677)

    "'Maybe we should change the rules around insurance so that they have to insure people,' he said."

    Maybe the world *should* be a better place. But wishing for the best of all possible worlds is an idiotic basis for national health policy. Or privacy policy.

  • by c.r.o.c.o ( 123083 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @12:53AM (#43748681)

    So Larry Page disclosed an ailment that quite frankly was new to me. But what are the implications of paralized vocal chords beyond being unable to speak?

    Are the people surrounding him worried he may be contagoious? Is he in danger of being blamed for an unhealthy lifestyle causing his malaise? Does he face the prospect of losing his job, or being unable to find employment in the future? Is he likely to lose family or friends? I believe the answer is no to all the above questions.

    But think of AIDS, certain cancers, heart disease, mental disorders and any number of afflictions that MAY be caused by personal choice. Or even if personal responsibility were not the cause, yet others would still discriminate the sufferer.

    The choice of making one's problems public should ALWAYS rest with the individual. There are always reasons to shield yourself from others, and one billionaire cannot even begin to comprehend the complexity of the issue from his ivory tower.

  • Re:insure? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by blue trane ( 110704 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @12:53AM (#43748687) Homepage Journal

    Agreed. Health care is a right. In this day and age, no one should have to worry about not getting health care. In most advanced countries, they don't.

  • by Taco Cowboy ( 5327 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @12:55AM (#43748697) Journal

    'Maybe we should change the rules around insurance so that they have to insure people,' Larry Page said."

    Yes, we can have the rules changed, but then, they too can change the rules

    If we are too force the insurance to accept all people, they can make their insurance policy so expensive that only the rich can afford

    After all, who is in business to make a lost ?

  • by rtilghman ( 736281 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @12:56AM (#43748701)

    He goes into I/O and tells everyone that there's too much focus on competition and a "zero-sum" game. Meanwhile his company is doing everything is can to fight regulation, moving on any and every available market, clearly adopting innovation for market and platform advantage, and generally fighting to be the alpha wolf of the pack. Christ, you basically just duplicated the iphone and gave it away for free to build a market for your products... zero sum game my a$#, you're dealing the cards you half wit!

    Then he goes out and talks about how we should be less uptight about our personal information... a guy with billions of dollars and no security issues whatsoever, tells folks who live and die on the edge of poverty where an employer will fire you for being fat, to "stop sweating the personal medical concerns." I can see the next one now... "gas? Let them drive Teslas."

    I'm so sick of these "do no evil" bait and switch a$%holes. What on earth has Google actually ever created besides a search algorithm? CREATED... please, someone explain it to me, because I'm still trying to figure it out.


  • by j-beda ( 85386 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @12:57AM (#43748705) Homepage

    Maybe we should change the rules around insurance so that they have to insure people

    That would be an improvement, but at the same time it creates another problem. Having an industry where only the buyer is allowed to use information is complete nonsense too. I know this opinion isn't popular around here, but for health insurance, the only thing that makes any sort of sense is a public system. It's just sad to see that the US is among the last to realize this.

    Actually, in most of the world, it isn't called "medical insurance", it is called the "medical system", and it is a system where everyone pays for equal access to medical services. The idea that it is "insurance", where individuals have various levels of "risk" seems to be part of the problem. Society does not have "educational insurance" to pay for our educational needs, why would we want medical insurance?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 17, 2013 @01:00AM (#43748731)

    His comment makes a lot of sense. In Australia, health insurance companies must charge every customer the same amount (for the same level of cover) and are required to provide coverage to anyone who signs up. It is illegal to deny a person insurance. Japan goes one step further and *requires* everyone to be insured. Everyone has the the same level of cover and no one is denied. Both of these countries have excellent medical outcomes and profitable medical insurance industries.

    America, you are doing health insurance wrong. There are many examples of health insurance worldwide that are more equitable, more effective and far cheaper.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 17, 2013 @01:03AM (#43748749)

    No kidding. I'd love to see how little medical privacy meant to him if he had a mental illness and was looking for a job and housing. Medical privacy laws don't exist because we're all bashful. They exist because people have been persecuted and discriminated against for medical and mental health issues.

  • Nope (Score:5, Insightful)

    by alvinrod ( 889928 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @01:03AM (#43748753)
    What reason do you possibly have to look at another person's medical history unless you are a physician or are put into a situation where you have to make medical decisions for another person? It's one thing to decide to share something if you feel it might be beneficial to help raise awareness (see Angelina Jolie) or if you're in an important position where people might have money riding on your health (see Steve Jobs or Larry Page) and a case could be made for ascertaining that you are healthy, but otherwise, there's no good reason.

    I don't want to come off as some tin-foil hat wearing nut-job, but one can't help making a connection between Google wanting to know as much information as possible about a person to influence search results and Page's comments.

    I just think there's no good reason to open up if people don't want to. There are a lot of things that could be stigmatizing in a person's medical history and open them all to all kinds of forms of discrimination outside of being able to get health insurance. Things as simple as "Oh, you had an abortion once. You're not welcome here."

    And for what it's worth, I'd like to see better privacy laws in place. The kind of data that companies are so easily able to gather these days is getting out of hand is probably going to lead to an entirely new set of problems in the future. For example, it's already been proven possible to out a gay person [firstmonday.org] by analyzing their friends on social networks. If the world were a better place that wouldn't be a big deal, but it isn't. I'm reminded a short story [blogspot.com] where information gathering becomes so sophisticated that computers are able to generate targeted ads to influence a person in a single regard:

    “Push combs the online footprint of our targets to determine everything we can about them,” said Yaroslava. “We use social networks, we use search histories, we use cell phone data, we use gaming protocols. All data is useful to us. Not only do we find out exactly what our target likes to consume, but we also find out how they like to consume it. We see how they browse to determine their specific attention spans and intelligence. We scan their pornography habits to learn about their libido, their obsessions, and their fears. We aggregate vast amounts of data about the way they use the internet to create a complete psychological profile of our targets, and then we use cognitive behavioral techniques to triangulate patterns in this profile. We make as robust a model of their operating intelligence as we possibly can. And then we make little movies meant only for our specific subjects. We make movies designed to steer them toward our products, whatever these products may be. These movies are designed to make each subject breathless, pliant, confused, over-stimulated, and highly amenable to suggestion.”

  • by Macgrrl ( 762836 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @01:16AM (#43748807)

    Not just mental illness - which is already overly stigmatised. But what if you had early symptoms or markers for degenerative diseases such as early onset Alzheimer's or something similar.

    I was recently diagnosed with cancer that was triggered by an auto immune disease. I've had surgery and my prognosis is extremely good, but there's lots of cancers out there with a high probability of reoccurring.

    My sister has a related auto immune disease but got juvenile arthritis instead. MY husband suffers from extreme chronic obstructive sleep apnea which was initially mis-diagnosed as a mental illness and then epilepsy as his symptoms escalated while we searched for a correct treatment.

    I'm not sure the first thing I would say to a prospective employer is that I've had cancer, anymore than they should be able to ask whether we intend to have kids.

  • Re:Not even close (Score:5, Insightful)

    by xystren ( 522982 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @01:18AM (#43748819)

    When your able to build your own hospital and staff it from the pocket change you have on your bedside table, I suppose there would be no reason to fear not being insured. And if you have that, you have no fear of being unemployed, or the stigma that may or may not goes along with any particular disease or illness. It wouldn't seem like a big deal when you can literally *buy* your way out of anything.

    It's also a conflict of interest when Mr. Page is going to be making a profit from acquisition of that information. Got erectile dysfunction? I bet Larry would love to sell that information to a drug company. I don't want any more Viagra spam that I already get. Don't like a particular political candidate? I'm sure he would love to sell you some information on how that candidate had/has a STD or some other mental illness. The ways that information could be abused and Larry makes his buck off of it. No wonder he wants the masses to be less worried about our health privacy.

    Mr. Larry, you made the *CHOICE* disclose your medical situation. I want that same choice - and I ain't giving it to you or Google to decide what does or doesn't get disclosed.

  • Re:Not even close (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Macgrrl ( 762836 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @01:20AM (#43748833)

    Large scale statistical models with accurate information about medical conditions could potentially assist in planning for future health care requirements and research funding. However for all the reasons mentioned elsewhere in this thread, it should be anonymised so that individuals cannot be discriminated against based on predicted outcomes.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 17, 2013 @01:24AM (#43748843)

    and, as he points, out, the insurance will not be affordable and additionally many of the plans will actually end up being inferior to what many had before.

  • Re:Not even close (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Reschekle ( 2661565 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @01:26AM (#43748855)

    Umm, if you're not being open with your partner about your STD as far as I'm concerned you're a criminal and a scumbag.

  • by JLennox ( 942693 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @01:32AM (#43748879)

    MA is not doing anyone favoures.

    Unless a company buys you health insurance you can only enroll in July. In the mean time they will penalize your already high state taxes for every month you do not have insurance. Keep in mind it's not a 'fine,' thatd be unconstitutional!

    The logic behind this is people with no insurance avoid going to the dr, their ailments turn into bad conditions that they must get treated, then skip out on the bill. This money supposedly compensates for this.

    Health insurance is, how ever, prohibitely expensive so they push high deductible plans for 300/month. High deductible plans... You mean the sort of insurance that causes people to avoid the dr?

  • Re:insure? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @01:37AM (#43748903) Journal

    One small problem:

    Define "Health care" as a "right".

    Does this "right" include exorbitant measures to extend life? Would it include plastic surgery (you know, for self-esteem reasons)? Does this "right" diminish with age, since old people getting a scarce resource (e.g. organ transplants) wouldn't see nearly the benefit from it that a younger patient would? I could go on, but you get the point. Obviously there has to be limits on what should go into health care. That said, it's one thing to set those limits impersonally. It's another to see these limits in action when it's your spouse, parent, or child that runs up against them.

    BTW - two things:

    1) since when does a right include automatic access to another's labor? Speech, privacy, and all the fun rights listed in the US Constitution don't require another's labor, time, or money. Your "right" to health care does. Why is that?

    2) If I choose not to exercise an enumerated right (again, c.f. US Constitution), it costs me nothing. If I choose not to exercise this "right" to health care, I still have to pay for it. What the hell?

  • Let them eat cake (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Swampash ( 1131503 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @01:43AM (#43748937)

    This billionaire advertising executive is so totally disconnected from the issues facing real people in the real world that it boggles the mind.

    "Why would anyone want privacy for their medical records? I don't get it. If that causes insurance problem then we should just change the insurance system. Why is this so hard for you people to understand?"

  • by cold fjord ( 826450 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @01:56AM (#43749007)

    Well, he's not afraid his company might fire him..

    He is also in the data business. If the government started enforcing privacy regulations his company might end up liable. There is also a big potential profit in getting ever more specific information about you that can be used or sold. Getting medical data to mine is a huge win on many levels.

  • by IndustrialComplex ( 975015 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @02:04AM (#43749045)

    Good luck proving that.

    I didn't hire him because I had a feeling that he wouldn't perform well in our company.
    You don't think that an HR person would actually say "I didn't hire him because XYZ was protected".

    Also, in response to this:

    It is illegal for an employer to discriminate based on medical conditions

    That depends greatly on the medical condition. Assume I'm colorblind. Want to bet that a media publishing firm could turn me down for a design job and break no laws? There are still pushes to keep colorblind people from becoming medical doctors because the belief is that they might miss a rash or color based symptom (jaundice?)

    To say that it is illegal to discriminate based on medical conditions isn't exactly true.

  • by Dahamma ( 304068 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @02:20AM (#43749125)

    Medical privacy only helps those who want to con the system or hurt others. Unemployment is high enough as it is. It would be far lower if we cut free the freeloaders.

    The freeloaders who just want to get treatment but get charged 5x what the insurance companies end up paying because they don't have the power to negotiate? The freeloaders who have paid thousands into private health insurance without taking any benefits and then lose their job, can't pay, and get NONE of that money back when they need it? Or the freeloaders who are completely avoiding doctor visits to avoid getting any preventative care or diagnoses they need in order to keep pre-existing conditions from appearing on their health records (and end up costing the insurance companies and/or the government 100x what it would have if they had dealt with their issues earlier)?

    The fact is, healthcare costs would be far lower if we had a single payer system. Cover EVERYONE at a federal level, then none of your concerns about private corporate interest are relevant.

  • by medoc ( 90780 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @02:20AM (#43749127) Homepage

    I find it very interesting that someone as intelligent as Larry Page could provide a statement so utterly disconnected from the reality of most people lives.

    This is one more indication that in many cases, being separated from contact with ordinary people by richness of function actually affects your capacity to think "normally" or empathize.

    This is one more element to show that letting these (otherwise perfectly respectable) people having too much influence on politics and government is extremely bad.

  • Google Glasses (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Puls4r ( 724907 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @02:26AM (#43749159)

    You know, just the other day I was at the water cooler with my Google Glasses on. Janet's description showed that she was three months pregnant. She's unmarried and spends a lot of time with Bob.

    Bob's description suggests he was tested for an STD just a couple months ago. I wonder if he told Janet.

    Oops. Just got a popup that I can pay google $10 a month to keep my medical records from showing up on google glasses. What a steal!

  • by sqrt(2) ( 786011 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @02:49AM (#43749243) Journal

    I don't mean to be offensive, I come from this background too, but the military are not middle class on average. The military is drawn from the ranks of the poor. That's why a lot of them join, no other options. The officers might be middle class, but even then there have been times when that didn't matter. They side with their soldiers or die along with the elites.

  • Re:insure? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by noh8rz10 ( 2716597 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @03:13AM (#43749305)
    1) the right to vote requires labor from the polling people. your right to due process requires a lot of labor from public defenders, etc. right to a jury trial requires the govt to force people to be jurors. lots of requireing labor from others when excercizing your rights.

    2) i don't understand about what the whole paying thing is about. irrigardless of your intentions for using your own health care coverage, you still need to pay taxes to support the system. Like social security, medicaire, any govt program. Pros and cons here, but it's not an abridgment of yoru freedom to get all indignatnt about.
  • by dhasenan ( 758719 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @03:47AM (#43749455)

    Nationalized healthcare solves this problem. For-profit corporations have no business in health insurance.

  • by Cenan ( 1892902 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @04:05AM (#43749531)

    So the question is do you trust Google?

    Not even a little. Google is all about profits; profits do not generally go very well with trust, unless you are an investor.

    I can see the benefit of having control over my own medical records via a service provider. I can make corrections and don't have to rely on my useless GP to get them to specialists when I need to see them.

    Making corrections to medical records should only be allowed if you're a medical professional. What makes you think you know jack shit about medicine, that you have the knowledge to make such corrections? If your GP is useless, find a new one.

  • by fnj ( 64210 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @04:12AM (#43749567)

    Nationalized healthcare solves this problem. For-profit corporations have no business in health insurance.

    What a trusting soul. Such mystical faith in the State. Psssst ... the State has no power to overturn economic realities. Nationalized healthcare may indeed be morally and practically the best solution to health care, but it can't take a gigantic burden off everybody and make it magically go away. If you think corporate profits are the only reason, or even the major factor in the exorbitant expense of health care, you are naive. It's expensive because it takes vast resources to do the job.

  • Nationalized healthcare solves this problem. For-profit corporations have no business in health insurance.

    You're welcome to come to Canada or take a trip to the UK anytime you want to see the "benefits" of not-for-profit healthcare. Let me know when you feel like waiting a month or so for a MRI or longer, unless it's serious. Then it might only be 3-4 days, of and of course the UK actually *does* have death panels. [thegatewaypundit.com] Though technically they're not supposed to suggest people simply die off unless they're exceptionally infirm. They also did it to infants.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 17, 2013 @04:50AM (#43749697)

    So in the U.S. it takes vastly more resources than everywhere else?
    Isn't the free market supposed to boost efficiency?

  • by BlueStrat ( 756137 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @05:39AM (#43749863)

    So in the U.S. it takes vastly more resources than everywhere else?
    Isn't the free market supposed to boost efficiency?

    The US has not had anything even close to a "free market" for decades. Particularly regarding anything related to healthcare and pharmaceuticals.

    The good news, however, is that there should be no worries about medical records being leaked and/or used against individuals or organizations since the IRS will keep those safe for all of us. They're so eager to begin, they simply walked in and seized without explanation approximately *sixty million* medical records in California that are reported to contain every California State Judge as well as many top Hollywood/media/news execs.

    Even better, the IRS official that was in charge of the office targeting individuals and groups for IRS harassment that politically/ideologically oppose this administration has just been put in charge of the IRS's Obamacare office. Better hope your health remains good if you speak out against the government.

    Maybe we can get the DoJ to seize the IRS's phone records to find out why, since the DoJ seems to be seizing phone records from everyone else these days, including the AP and phone records from the House of Representatives press gallery which journalists often use to call Congresspeople in their offices.

    Move along, nothing to see here.


  • by jabuzz ( 182671 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @06:21AM (#43750079) Homepage

    It can by definition vastly reduce the economic burden. For example in the USA more money is spent pushing paper around to pay for health care bills than the NHS in England spends in it's entirety (or was the case in 1996). Now yes the USA is larger than England, but if you are not madly pushing pieces of paper around and spending time accounting for everything you can save a shed load of administrative costs. These costs can then be spent treating actual patients for actual illnesses.

  • The Daily Mail is also not an objective source, in fact it's infamous for making shit up in support of a rightist agenda. But that said, yes, from time to time the NHS is found to be deficient in some areas, there's a massive political scandal and the issues are fixed. In the mean time, 100% of the population are covered by a health system whose faults generally lie in long waiting times for non-urgent medical care and not a lot else.

    I do suggest however that you ask Brits and Canadians the same question. Would they rather replace their healthcare system with the US version?

    You also should also Medicare patients whether they'd rather stay on their terrible evil socialist system or be required to switch to private insurance.

    The answers might surprise you.

  • by Cenan ( 1892902 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @07:30AM (#43750381)

    Yes, doctors make mistakes. That does not make everybody else qualified to make corrections to medical records. That there are examples of doctors making mistakes to the detriment of their patients just means there needs to be revisions in place.

    The example you give could have been completely avoided if the woman could have had a second unbiased opinion. But it's a tall order to ask a doctor to diagnose a condition if denied the medical history of the patient. There will always be some who fall between the cracks, and the system needs to pick up on this rather than bouncing them around. Still, all this does not qualify anyone else to make corrections to medical records.

  • by Stormthirst ( 66538 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @07:33AM (#43750393)

    So do the decent thing America and get a socialized healthcare system

  • by FictionPimp ( 712802 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @07:38AM (#43750423) Homepage

    It doesn't matter if it's true or not. What matters is companies use it as an excuse to fuck over their employees. My wife and a few of my friends have all seen their coverage decline over the last year to "get ready for expected increases in insurance costs". Companies see this as an excuse to fuck over their employees and employees blame it on obama.

  • by Stuarticus ( 1205322 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @07:56AM (#43750517)
    We don't have to answer that question, because it's not actually against the law for private healthcare companies to run here, we have lots. How many people do you think pay for them when there's a very highly regarded (beyond the bizarro world of the Daily Mail) heathcare service free at the point of use? Most Brits love the heathcare service. Of course it's not perfect, but compared to the leech of a system that's present on your side of a pond, we'd take it any day.
  • by DJRumpy ( 1345787 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @08:01AM (#43750541)

    Although it's possible some providers may try offering inferior plans, the fact that it is still a free market (contrary to the 'socialist' cries from the the fringe elements), any provider offering substandard plans would quickly find themselves left in the dust or heavily penalized if they tried to gouge customers. The affordable health care act requires that all applicants of the same general age and geographical location be offered the same premium costs, meaning any spikes due to pre-existing conditions will be averaged across a large number of individuals, which also includes a large number of health individuals which will balance out those spikes. Providers will also have to reinvest a set amount of profits into consumer benefits rather than profits, meaning the increased customer base doesn't necessarily mean they will get rich. There are indeed some good protections in the act that are consumer friendly.

    Those who try to gouge customers will also be barred from getting into the healthcare exchanges and the customers that those exchange will provide. Such companies will also be monitored by the HHS, DOJ and FTC, who will in turn report such gouging to the local states to see if the price hikes were 'justified', and can have penalties levied against them if they are found to be gouging. The information will also be published to the public. Such information would create a very black eye for any reputable company. Pharma and medical equipment manufacturer's are also covered under that provision.

    In short, gouging from the insurance industry is not very likely, and can be promptly addressed at the federal and state level if needed.

    Those who fall into poverty ranges (up to 138% of the poverty level) will receive assistance in paying for premiums, although they will have to contribute within their means. It's a fair system IMO.

    The act also makes it easier for smaller businesses (50 employees) to offer health care coverage via the same exchanges as well as help wit subsidies from the government to help reduce their premium costs), where previously they had no such option (all or nothing type of situation).

    As to Larry, his statement speaks volumes about the disconnect of the rich from the poor. Prior to health care reform, admitting you had a pre-existing condition virtually guaranteed you would never find coverage, or that such coverage would be excluded with a rider to your policy, making coverage largely pointless for those with a condition requiring regular treatment.

  • by ebno-10db ( 1459097 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @09:25AM (#43751265)

    I shouldn't have to pay the medical expenses for smokers ...

    I shouldn't have to pay to educate people who are determined to stay ignorant, but I do. The lifetime medical costs for smokers are lower than for non-smokers. Die at 67 of some smoking related ailment and Medicare won't have to pay for anymore medical care for you. Don't smoke, live to 87 and that's another 20 years of medical expenses. Even if you argue that the pre-retirement medical costs are higher for smokers, it's unreasonable to ask smokers to pay higher premiums unless you also reduce their Medicare taxes.

    It's people like me that are going to cost you. Almost everyone in my family (both sides) lives at least into their 80's. I'm probably going to cost you a bundle. No apologies.

    Furthermore, if your real concern is saving money rather than having some variety of "those people" to sanctimoniously complain about, what's really screwing you is living in the US. No other country in the world pays more than 2/3 of what we do (as %/GDP - at exchange rate or PPP the disparity is much greater), yet many such countries have medical care at least as good as ours and universal coverage.

  • By and large most of the objections to government-provided healthcare on this side of the Atlantic (and this side of the Canadian border ;-) really come down to prejudice against government provided services in general, coupled with well funded anti-government propaganda from the Healthcare industry, right wing think tanks and lobby groups, inflating stories of failure in foreign single-payer systems while ignoring the severe problems with the current system.

    The funny thing is that the US government does provide general healthcare services to certain groups, such as the elderly and the military, which are well run and immensely popular with those who eligable to receive treatment.

    Unfortunately, the entire issue is so toxic that even with a Democratic majority on both houses, the last Health Care Reform push was little more than a tinkering with the current system, providing some subsidies to people who couldn't otherwise afford private insurance, while striking a deal with insurers that the industry would cover pre-existing conditions in exchange for everyone being pressured to get insurance. Not only was single payer not brought to the floor, but in the congressional hearings to discuss the nature of HCR that lead to Obamacare, single payer was banned from discussion.

    We're governed by terrible, terrible, people.

  • by CreatureComfort ( 741652 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @10:22AM (#43751925)
    So, you happen to have any history of cancer in your family? Other congenital diseases? You take part in any risky activities or behaviors? Do you maintain an optimal BMI and eat only nutritious foods, while getting the proper amounts and types of exercise?

    I shouldn't have to support your bad genetic heritage or poor life choices. If you can't afford any and all future medical costs out of your own pocket, well then, you can just go off and die in a gutter. Or do you prefer the current system, where instead of paying a little extra in your insurance bill to assist in getting all of "those" folks pre-treatment, or preventative care and counseling, instead you pay a huge amount in property taxes each year to treat them as emergencies in your local county hospital? You DO realize that you pay for it either way, right? Even if you don't own property, your rent is based, in part, on the property taxes your landlord has to pay. The prices you pay for groceries, gas, clothes, are in part determined by the property taxes each of the shops has to pay, etc. Multiple studies have show 15-1 or better returns on investment by having preventative care available. Even the much quoted recent Oregon study, if you look at the data and include ALL patients showed significant benefits from preventative care for folks that otherwise would have to rely on only emergency care.

    The result of your attitude is either 1) Insurance should be banned totally and everyone should have to pay out of pocket, or 2) Insurance companies, backed by the force of law, should be able to force each and every one who wants pooled protection to live a monitored and restricted life according to the companies actuaries that result in the highest profit to the insurance company.

    How about we recognize that we don't want people dying in the gutter around us, that we would prefer to protect children and others who are reliant on guardians from their guardian's poor choices, and that if we are going to end up paying for it anyway, we'd rather pay a lesser amount for better outcomes rather than more for expensive, morally superior, less desirable outcomes.
  • Both things have no relation at all. Of course you can have a free market in health care, the same way you can have a free market in food or transportation.

    And, yeah, the demand is very inelastic. That means that in a free market, companies will compete to get market share, and not cooperate to increase the market. That makes it a brutal market for companies, but doesn't change things very much for consumers.

Happiness is twin floppies.