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06/21/2014: "Indiana Doc Leads Healthcare for All Fight"

Filed under: Healthcare,Indiana,insurance,Politics: Healthcare
Tags: Anthem, blue cross, Blue Sheild, Healthcare, Hoosiers for a commonsense Health plan., indianapolis star, insurance, medicare, Rob Stone, Wellpoint

The Indianapolis Star has this article about Dr. Rob Stone. You may not agree with everything he says, but at least he's out there trying to do something about the insurance problem.

Stone, an emergency room physician at Bloomington Hospital, has emerged as one of Indiana's most outspoken advocates for making insurance accessible to all. He is co-founder and director of Hoosiers for a Commonsense Health Plan, which contends that the current system is too profit-driven, too inefficient, and leaves too many people without affordable access to health care.

One of Stone's favorite targets is Indiana's largest health-care insurance provider, Indianapolis-based WellPoint, a $61 billion health insurance giant that provides coverage to 35 million people in America.

"WellPoint epitomizes our system," he said. "They're it."

Stone's PowerPoint presentation lays out his case. A Medicare-type program for all is better than the current system, he says. Medicare is currently for the elderly.

One slide "with information attributed to the International Journal of Health Services in 2005 shows Medicare overhead spending was 3.1 percent of its budget, compared with 26.5 percent for investor-owned Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans.

Another slide; with information from the Employer Health Benefits Annual Survey and Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that from 2000 to 2006 health insurance premiums rose 87 percent while workers' earnings rose 18 percent.

For its part, WellPoint sees having a competitive, free-market system as key to improving the quality of care and controlling costs.

"We believe a single-payer health-care system would hinder progress in these areas by eliminating competition and restricting patient choice and could require patients to endure long wait times for care while possibly reducing the quality of health care," WellPoint spokesman Jim Kappel said in an e-mail.

In its recent earnings report, WellPoint touted that it lowered its administrative expenses to 14.5 percent of premium revenue in 2007 from 15.7 percent in 2006 even as it added 708,000 members.

The company also pointed to flaws in other nations' health-care systems.

"In Canada, which has a single-payer system, the average wait between a general practitioner referral and a specialty consultation at times has been longer than 17 weeks."

Stone stands by his position. He recalls a patient who refused to seek treatment for chest pains that turned out to be a heart attack. He finally sought treatment for a second attack, only because the first attack left him disabled, but now eligible for government coverage.

"Medicare works pretty well, and it's been around for a long time, so why not pattern something after Medicare?"

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