Dr. Dave Knows What’s Wrong With Healthcare. And How to Fix It.

10/27/2009 4:00 AM |

But they collect payments that exceed this amount by a large factor—not just to pay for administrative costs, but to line the pockets of executives. Insurance companies don’t publish their profits, Ores said. (A quick Google search seems to refute this.) “It’s probably too obscene to be spoken out loud.” He pulls out his iPhone and tries some rough calculations, arriving unscientifically at trillions a month in revenue across the industry. He notes the Civil War was fought over far less money than that—so you can imagine the fight the industry will put up to survive. The C.E.O. of Oxford, he said, makes something like $100,000 an hour. “What the fuck does that guy eat?” Ores asked. “Unicorn dust?”

Health insurance, Ores explained, operates under a casino model: the house always wins if enough people play; much more money is collected than is paid out. Dr. Dave isn’t a Communist: he’s not against people making large profits. He just doesn’t think they should make it off of people’s health. “Making money off kids with brain cancer? That’s evil!” he says. “Do it by selling luxury cars or pornography.” He compares it to Jesus chasing the moneychangers from the temple. You can make your profits—just don’t do it here. “Not that I’m comparing myself to Jesus.” Indeed, the email moniker on his business cards is “drdave666”.

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Ores draws a distinction between health “insurance” and health “care”: he’d like to see a model based on the latter, which he figures would be “a hundred times less expensive” than the former. Under a true health care system, there’s no gambling. It would be governed by an overarching, not-for-profit agency that would collect only enough money to pay out the costs to treat people’s health. “Health insurance, as a construct,” he said, “is unnecessary.” His objection isn’t the administration of health care, on which so many reformative legislative proposals are centered. It’s the concept of health insurance itself.

“Find some other industry where someone gets in the middle,” he challenged. There’s no lawyer insurance, for example, no future protection in case you get divorced. (Imagine a lawyer, he suggestx, getting paid a small percentage to handle your divorce, while some middle man pockets the rest.) “They’re way too smart for that,” he says. “Doctors aren’t geared that way. And when we weren’t looking, they”—the insurance men—”came in and destroyed the business.”

“It was once a profession, medicine,” he added. “Now we’re technocrats.”

Not that Ores has much sympathy for his fellow doctors. “That’s the other thing about health insurance: the doctors are in on it,” he says. “The doctors are paid off.” Many physicians are inured to the system, he says, and they make a lot of money off of it, too.

5 Comment

  • the Red Cross is not a bad idea. If the public option does not pass in this upcoming bill we will definitely need a massive humanitarian effort to save us from these insurance vampires.

  • So, a doctor charges $500 a visit, because he can. The insurance negotiates it to $300. The patient pays $25. Where is the racket?

    And insurance companies don’t make money on “kids with brain cancer”. They make money on the kids who DON’T get brain cancer.

    I admire what he does for community health. But the soap box needs to go away.

  • Community MH Worker– sounds like you’ve never had to contest a claim with medical insurance, or had to watch people be refused life-saving procedures because of insurance.

    It is a racket- it wasn’t always, but it’s turned into one.

  • Rosamund- It’s ILLEGAL to refuse any life-saving medical treatment due to insurance or money. Look up EMTALA (http://www.emtala.com). This is a lie perpetrated by people who want to be inflammatory without knowing the truth.
    It’s the doctors who don’t treat because of fears of not getting paid that are criminal. And pharmaceutical companies charging outrageous amounts of money for patented drugs. And the litigious society that creates ridiculous, frivolous law suits that increase the cost of malpractice insurance for medical providers. And all the other factors that go into the stupidly high cost of medical care in the US.
    Don’t think the insurance company (at least alone) is to blame.