For weeks, months, Keith Olbermann has denounced those who have told lies in opposition to “health care reform.” He himself has at times been guilty of some exaggeration in his denunciations, and has exaggerated in his support of that program, but this past Tuesday night and Thursday night he has outright lied in support of “health care reform” and has callously used a five-year-old in the process.
He tells the story of Kyler Van Nocker, who has cancer. The insurance company, Olbermann tells us, is callously refusing to provide the medical treatment that will cure him because it costs $110,000. He refers to the insurance company as “real death panels that run our health care industry,” a phrase which he uses repeatedly throughout both nightly segments. The second night provides more details. Kyler has had this cancer, along with other diseases related to the cancer for three years. He has run the course of standard treatments, and has two rounds of experimental treatments, all of which the insurance company has paid for. His parents want a third experimental treatment and the insurance company has said no, making them a “death panel.” The insurance company is reporting a “loss ratio of 82%,” which Olbermann tells us means that 82¢ of every dollar that the Van Knockers have paid them has gone to Kyler’s treatment and the rest has gone to things like the CEO’s multimillion salary.
To correct Olbermann’s last lie first, the “loss ratio” means that 82¢ of every dollar in premiums that the insurance company has collected from its millions of policy holders has gone to pay the medical expenses of its millions of policy holders. The Van Knockers have paid to the insurance company a very small fraction of the amount that has been paid out in their behalf for their child’s medical expenses.
The bigger lie is the story itself. A medical company is developing a new treatment and wants to test it. Its effect on Kyler is unknown; it may cure, it may make him worse, it may do nothing. It is a test of a new and unknown treatment. The medical company does not want to pay to test its own experiment. The Van Knockers are desperate, and they want the hope that the experiment offers, but they cannot pay for it. The hospital does not want to pay for the experiment.
The company making the tested product does not want to pay to test the product. The company conducting the test does not want to pay to conduct the test. The guinea pig does not want to pay to be the guinea pig. Everybody wants the insurance company to pay for this experiment, but there is no reason for an insurance company to pay for experiments.
Every health insurance contract says that it will not pay for experimental or unapproved treatments, and that is a reasonable and necessary clause. Without it, insurance would be paying for modern versions of snake oil and the cost of health insurance would rise to a level that would make it unaffordable to all but the most wealthy. The clause is, as to experimental treatments, quite reasonable. If a drug company wants to make new products that need to be tested and from which they will eventually profit, they should pay for the testing. Why should insurance companies pay for testing and then pass that cost on to every individual who buys a policy?
The insurance company for Kyler Van Nocker went farther than it actually should have done; it has already paid for two experimental treatments that by its contract it did not need to pay for. The Van Nockers should be thanking them, and instead they are engaging Keith Olbermann to go on national television and accuse them of running “death panels.”
Keith Olbermann is not just a buffoon, he is an arrant liar.