From: Stern, Steven (Sns5r) []
Sent: Friday, January 22, 2010 10:26 AM
Cc: Stern, Steven (Sns5r)
Subject: RE: NPR interview
i'm sorry about your condition.  actually, my former wife died last month from multiple sclerosis.  the point i was making that didn't come across in the interview is that you can have much less expensive insurance and still cover catastrophic illness cost.  that point was edited out.
steven stern

Sent: Friday, January 22, 2010 10:11 AM
Subject: NPR interview

Greetings Steven,
I nearly caused a car accident moments ago as I animately reacted to your ignorant comments in this mornings NPR story about "high cost" health insurance. 11.5 years ago, when I was invincible and 26 years old, I wondered why I needed health insurance. I thought I was healthy, took reasonable care of myself and aside from working too much I thought all was well, except for some strange sensations I peridically experienced. Then I fell down some stairs one morning and into an MRI machine to learn I was living with multiple sclerosis. I was told this was a good time to live with ms because there were new drugs that might help. When I started using the drugs they cost $960 per month. Today, the same drugs cost $2840 per month. My high cost union negotiated health plan requires a $10 co-pay for my maintenance medicine to slow the progression of this disease that afflicts me. There are 400,000 of us living with ms in the United States. Shame on you for suggesting someone get a less comprehensive health insurance plan because people don't use needed health care if they can't afford the medicine (I forgot how this works on the demand curve).
Please do something meaningful for people, rather than discouraging comprehensive health insurance. Please study the social costs of high deductables that discourage people from using medicines that might keep them healthier -- increasingly, high drug co-pays (sometimes called "tier 4 medicines" or "specialty medicines") are being added to health insurance plans. These "specialty" co-payment tiers require persons to pay a percentage, like 30% of a medicine's cost, for medicine like mine. This can mean a $900 per month out-of-pocket expense. Ever eager to same money for themselves, insurers are moving ever more medicines to specialty tiers -- employers looking to save money are moving their health insurance plans to be plans with tier 4 medicines.
I hope you or anyone you love never experiences a challenging medical condition like ms or cancer and experiences it with crappy, inadequate health insurance.
ps. Perhaps you could partner with someone in the philosophy department who could offer something about the morality of drug co-payments for "maintenance" medicines (they should be zero in a more just society).
pps. The patent on my medicine expired in 2007 but unlike in Germany, there is no generic version of my medicine because the FDA was never empowered to review generic "biological" drugs. PHARMA plays us for fools.