Six Degrees of Health Insurance

by Gabe Bullard on May 21, 2009

If you heard my feature on health care costs, you heard a reference to heart catheterization teams being on call. The line turned out to have extra meaning today, making all those attempts to properly pronounce it in the recording booth worthwhile.

At a press conference about emergency care this morning, I learned that Louisville EMS teams now have the ability to transmit EKGs to hospitals where heart catheterization teams will be on call and ready to treat patients based on their EKGs.

When I got back to the newsroom, I called Norton Healthcare to find out about their potential split with Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield. Both entities were quoted in my health care feature, and now they’re at odds over, among other things, reimbursements for care.

This could be medical news serendipity or a reinforcement of not only the need for a 24-hour heart catheterization lab, but the necessity of funds, public or private, to pay for it.

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Harriette Seiler May 24, 2009 at 11:13 am

Thanks for covering local attitudes on the urgent need for health reform. I would have liked to hear a “single payer” voice. As you know, we’ve been locked out of discussions in the Senate.

I’m a supporter of a nonprofit single payer system –often called “expanded and improved Medicare-for-all. ” Everyone would be covered regardless of age, health status, job or income level. We would pay for universal coverage and care as as we now pay for fire protection and homeland security.

There’s a reason that other free market democracies in the industrialized world have one-payer systems. They’ve done the math. Our economy could save billions and we’d have a healthier populace.

I’m an Obama fan, but the private insurance industry will never allow his “public option” to offer comprehensive plans with premiums that mid- and low-income families can afford. Certain state employee plans now offer a choice of options, but even the least expensive plan is unaffordable for many state workers. Less expensive plans often have high deductibles–so people do not go to the doctor for early diagnosis and preventive care. I know a Louisville school teacher who prays her children don’t get sick because she can’t afford the co-pay.

We would all agree that doctors and hospitals need to be fairly reimbursed for services. A single-payer system would do that. As you have reported Norton Hospital is asking Anthem/WellPoint/Blue Cross-Blue Shield for higher reimbursements. Anthem will be reluctant to cut their profits, so they will shift those costs to clients, adding to the excalating costs of premiums paid by employers and individuals.

I’m actually surprised that businesses are not complaining to our representatives in Congress.
Respected economists, including a Nobel winner, have pointed out that the free market does not work in health care. A patient felled by an illness is not exactly in any position to “shop around” for care.

WFPL listeners who want to learn more about single payer are invited to a public discussion with Rep. John Conyers, Jr., lead sponsor of HR 676 the single payer bill in Congress. He will join physician-advocates at Indiana University Southeast on Saturday morning, May 30, 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. For more information go to

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