Walker also provides a list of Wellmark's rate increases over the past half decade:
- 2005: 8.6%
- 2006: 12.3%
- 2007: 7.0%
- 2008: 13.2%
- 2009: 14.5%
- 2010: 18.5%
Walker cites Avera's PR guy Daryl Thuringer saying these health care price hikes (including Avera's own 10% jump) come in part from increased use of CT scans and other great American technology. This comes at the same time as the AP reports all that technology isn't really making us healthier. Americans get more medical radiation (CT scans, etc.) than anyone else. We use fetal monitors that have increase C-sections but have not reduced deaths or cerebral palsy. Suggestions that we pay doctors to conduct end-of-life consultations with patients to help them understand which procedures will actually help them live better and which are a waste of time and money get twisted into angry cries of "death panels!"
I still remember feeling like the doctor might call Social Services on me when I questioned her call for the air ambulance and asked if my newborn daughter would do just as well going to Sioux Falls by ground. But the doctor told me our little one's case wasn't that serious. I declined the chopper, she called the regular ambulance, and I saved the insurance company $5000.
This year's health reform laws are a good start, but if we want cost control, we still need single-payer... and we need some serious, rational discussion about what health care we really need.