Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Lotteries to Ration Healthcare

Seems Oregon is on to something: if it's free it's for me!
Officials began drawing names last week for a chance at some rare openings in the state's healthcare plan.

Announced in February, the lottery drew 91,675 hopefuls in 30 days. The winners will receive a postcard notifying them that they can apply for the Oregon Health Plan.

Like millions of people across the country, cash-strapped Oregonians bypass doctors, forgo prescription drugs and neglect basic healthcare when they can't afford health insurance. The state's Department of Human Services says at least 600,000 Oregonians live day to day without health insurance.

For some, life or death could hinge on the outcome of the unique insurance lottery.

Budget limitations capped the Oregon Health Plan standard benefit package in mid-2004. Now the plan has room for a few thousand people. The lottery winners will be the first new applicants since the cap was imposed.

Oregon's standard plan covers physician services, prescription drugs, mental health and chemical dependency services, emergency medical services, and limited dental, hospital and vision benefits. Premiums range from zero to $20.

Now, let's say that "a few thousand people" really means about 2,000 people. If so, Oregon can provide only a little over 2% of the outstanding healthcare needs via their state's healthcare plan.

98% get stiffed.

Sad, but true.

But at least overt rationing by way of a lottery vividly highlights the magnitude of our current healthcare cost crisis. Imagine when the remaining 98% are picked up by good 'ol Uncle Sam.

If Oregon can't afford it, how will we?


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Agreed. You must be a fan of Dr. Rich. :) Covert rationing must stop.