When drug company arrogance combines with insurance company avarice, look out for an explosion of gouging.

When drug company arrogance combines with insurance company avarice, look out for an explosion of gouging.

The essential idea behind the establishment of an insurance industry was not to maximize the profits of a few corporate giants, but to create a social good for all of us – specifically to spread the costs of medical care across our whole society. If everyone pays into the system, no one has to be crushed by the cost of care when they fall sick. The notion is that we’re all in this together.

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But a pernicious ethic of greed has erupted within America’s corporatized system, putting an unbearable cost burden on some of us who are already burdened with the worst illnesses. Drug manufacturers have been given monopolies over medicines to treat such deadly diseases as cancers and multiple sclerosis, even though these drugs were developed with government funding. In turn, the monopolists are charging exorbitant prices for these life-saving drugs.

Enter the insurance profiteers, which have now created a special “Tier Four” pricing system that forces very ill people into co-payments that can cost them more than a thousand dollars for a month’s worth of crucial pills. The price can be more than folks pay for their mortgages or even more than their monthly incomes. Pay up… or do without. Which is to say: die.

Remember, these are people who have insurance, yet this Tier Four price gouging effectively steals the uniting principle of insurance from them, profiting a handful of powerful corporations and impoverishing our society. Since the corporate system is abandoning America’s essential notion of the common good, then its time to abandon it. Now is the time to push for an American version of single-payer health care for all. Check out H.R. 676, sponsored by Rep. John Conyers: 202-225-5126.

“Costly Drugs, Unfair Burdens,” The New York Times, April 20, 2008

“Co-Payments Go Way Up for Drugs With High Prices,” The New York Times, April 14, 2008

“When Drug Costs Soar Beyond Reach,” The New York Times, April 15, 2008

“Battling the bastards is about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.”

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