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Sorry to start the year like this, but it's important for everyone to recognize the urgency of healthcare reform.

Tragically, in 2009, I fear we're going to usher in an era when obtaining healthcare will hinge on your ability to pay, and on your credit worthiness. 2009 could become known as the Year of Pay or Die.

Here's what I mean.

This looks like the face of a friendly person, correct? If you said yes, you're very wrong.

It's from the web page of a company you've probably never heard of called SearchAmerica.


Unless and until the United States moves to a single payer system, all of what you're about to read, will remain intact.

Please see update under the fold.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Just received an email advising (correctly), that Bain Capital referenced in the Business Week article (below) is Mitt Romney's firm.

The email included the following insightful observation.

We are seeing the chess board this is the GOP opening move. 2009 they have lined up money behind stopping health care reform; as you said their vision is to make the British and other national health care systems convert to Pay or Die with  the U.S. GOP neocons making this another transglobal scam-attractive bubble for hedge funds & institutional investors.

SearchAmerica was just acquired by Experian for 90 million dollars. Yes, that Experian, the credit rating agency. So what does this mean for you and me?

The mission of SearchAmerica is to determine whether or not you can pay your medical bills. God help you, if you are judged uncreditworthy for healthcare. And before we go any further, let me remind you again, that in the United States, healthcare is a privilege not a right (except if you're a politician with taxpayer subsidized healthcare).

Returning to SearchAmerica. The CEO is very bullish about the prospects for his company.

How's this for surreal?

This is from a chilling interview (which coincidentally was conducted yesterday), with Dan Johnson, the newly very wealthy CEO of Searchamerica. Yes, he really spoke these words. Crap like this is the ultimate nail in the coffin for the U.S. healthcare system. Here's a piece of the interview, read the whole thing, if you dare.

You can't make this stuff up. If this guy gets his way, you'll be able to finance your healthcare the way you finance a car.  Except this moron, doesn't seem to know Americans can't afford cars or healthcare or much of anything any longer.

Q Many hospitals now offer payment plans for patients who can't pay. Does SearchAmerica help with that?

A That's coming. We're in a good position to extend payment plan options. For example, in Experian's auto business, when you go into an auto dealer, the dealer screens the buyer and lines up funding sources and you walk away with the car. SearchAmerica can do the same thing. Right now, the hospital is the bank, and that's not its core business.

Q If you make medical loans more easily available, won't that raise the potential for bad debt?

A It may. But consumers are going for the low-monthly-premium, high-deductible health plan. We're going to provide a quick, easy way to finance the deductible. Nobody plans to get sick.

Q It seems to me that your service would be most useful in America and less useful in countries with national health systems where hospitals don't collect money directly from patients.

A Experian sees the world health care system -- once like the U.K. -- moving towards a U.S.-style system. SearchAmerica is seen as the platform to deliver those services.  

[emphasis added]

Did this idiot say that high deductible junk insurance, with the huge out of pocket costs, the huge co-pays, and the delay, deny and deceive for profit insurance industry which leads to financial ruin and bankruptcy, is the model for the world?

Let's return for a moment to the SearchAmerica - Experian partnership which this dumb fuck fool is so proud of. Here's how SearchAmerica promotes this new relationship on its web site. Like almost everything involving healthcare in America, it's all about a better bottom line and a better ROI (return on investment).

SearchAmerica, a part of Experian

SearchAmerica leads the healthcare industry in financially clearing patients who have payment liability.  The company provides a range of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions to more than 500 hospitals that produce a healthier bottom line.

Documented case studies prove a significant return on investment, consistent with favorable public relations.

Here's a piece from the Experian press release describing this merger ugly turn of events.

Since there has been such unholy and dramatic cost-shifting by the for-profit insurance industry onto the backs of the badly beleaguered and perhaps mortally wounded middle class, the time is ripe for a strategic merger such as this. As the recession deepens, more and more Americans will find themselves at the mercy of SearchAmerica and its data mining expertise.

Like I said, Pay or Die.

SearchAmerica is the industry leader in providing data, scoring and analytical software solutions to assist healthcare providers with making critical financial decisions. By combining Experian’sand SearchAmerica’s core capabilities, the company will be able to provide healthcare facilities with enhanced information regarding payment likelihood, more comprehensive collectionssolutions, improved ability to validate patient identity information and more accurate methods to screen for eligibility for financial aid programs such as Medicaid and charitable programs. This
automated screening may lessen patients’ out-of-pocket costs for medical treatment.

Lessen out-of-pocket costs?  Sounds good. But do you know what this means? It means you'll be stabilized in the ER (still all that required by law), then sent home to die.

Or, you'll be told after you've already had treatment, but require additional treatment, either pay or no additional care will be forthcoming.

But, as I often say, no need to believe me, this is what Business Week reported.

Hospitals X-Ray Patient Credit Scores
More and more are buying credit data to see if the sick can afford treatment

The surest sign that wallet biopsies are catching on is the proliferation of analysis companies offering their services to the country's 5,000 hospitals. SearchAmerica says that it has 1,000 hospital clients. The three major credit bureaus—TransUnion, Equifax (EFX), and Experian (EXPGY)—are marketing their own customized software for medical providers. And this summer, private equity giant Bain Capital [Mitt Romney] invested $50 million in MedeFinance in Emeryville, Calif.

Experian must expect that business will boom in 2009, they paid $90 million for SearchAmerica.

May I quickly walk you through a few additional scams, atrocities, money making opportunites, call them whatever you want, which have come to my attention?

You should be on the lookout for stuff like this as we head into the uncharted waters that lie ahead, keeping in mind that 2009 is shaping up as the year of Pay or Die.

Have you all been inside the Transunion Healthcare Web site? Well do yourself a favor and take a look. As you now know, hospitals are running credit checks to ascertain the credit worthiness of the patients they serve.

And here are some of the ways Transunion wants to help hospitals and other healthcare providers with their bottom lines.

What hospitals care about now—and how it impacts the bottom line and patients

Negative operating margins. Increasing uninsured population. Medicaid cuts. There are many factors working against hospitals today—many are struggling to survive, let alone improve net revenue. But every dollar your hospital earns for services provided is money that can be invested in critical needs such as clinical trials, facility and equipment improvements, and staff hiring and development.

At TransUnion, we understand how these issues impact hospitals and their bottom line. Our healthcare team has identified the top business objectives of our hospital clients right now:

Decrease bad debt

Hospitals have a mission to serve the community, but bad debt chips away at net revenue—diverting valuable resources that could be allocated to clinical trials, facility improvements or increasing staff.

Increase collections
Now forced to collect more payment directly from patients, hospitals are taking a fresh look at how—specifically how much and when—they collect.

And finally from a hedge fund (or private equity firm) known as Aquitas Capital Management, comes a hospital branded credit card which they're calling Care Payment.

I gather it's a zero interest card, and I'm wondering where the money is being made? I can't judge if  this could possibly be helpful what do you think, am I missing something? They have a partnership with Transunion which makes me very leery.

Care Payment Hospital Credit card

A few final thoughts.

If you're quite literally ill reading this, that's an appropriate reaction. We all are.

When a thug like Ms. Ignagni of AHIP refers to "stakeholders", these are the people, hedge funds and organizations she's referring to.

There is only one way to fix this terminally diseased system, and that's with a single payer healthcare. And for anyone who still doesn't know what single-payer is, I'll tell you, privately delivered healthcare (you choose your doctor, hospital, etc.), paid for by one entity, the government. All of our precious healthcare dollars go for healthcare and we eliminate the parasitic middlemen, you've just read about.

Originally posted to nyceve on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 01:12 PM PST.

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