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Comment: Not quite true (Score 1) 1197

by sterno (#31231822) Attached to: Health Insurance When Leaving the Corporate World?

If you look at the health insurance system that existed in the past this was not as big of a problem. Initially you had most health insurance being provided by mutuals where they did not have concepts like preexisting conditions. But what happened was these non-profits were soon getting dominated by for-profit health insurers. Not because these private insurers were more efficient, but rather because they invented concepts like preexisting conditions and did a lot to limit the pool of people they insured. This let them offer lower prices and seem like a better deal until you got sick and they upped your rates or got rid of you all together.

This got an order of magnitude worse as some of these private insurers became publicly traded companies. Not only did going public give them more capital to work with to further undercut competitors, but it also created a necessity of every increasing profits on a quarterly basis. That means they have to continually find ways to screw the insured.

So no, it wasn't always this way, but it definitely is now.

Comment: Natural Monopolies (Score 1, Redundant) 647

by sterno (#26800197) Attached to: WSJ Says Gov't Money Injection Won't Help Broadband

The problem is that there's a natural monopoly because of the physical impediments to connecting a dwelling to the network. I have three wires coming into my home:

1) Power line
2) Cable line
3) Phone line

It would be prohibitively expensive to set up the infrastructure to connect me to yet another line and that's what would be necessary to have true competition.

To understand the problem, compare what we have in broadband service to the way that dial-up worked. In the dial-up market there were thousands of competitors because while local phone carriers provided the phone line, they had no control beyond the last mile. You could connect to compuserve, AOL, or hundreds of independent ISP's. The result was increasing speeds (within the physical limits of the phone wires) and declining prices.

With broadband, you have the cable companies who have monopoly control over their wires and you have the phone company that has an effective monopoly. Yeah, I can get DSL from other providers, but the phone company deliberately interferes with this and because of their control of the local pipes, can generally offer cheaper service. So while you have competition, in theory, between DSL and cable, as a practical matter it's nonexistent.

There's potential for competition from wireless and that's somewhere the government can do a lot to help. However, wireless will always be slower than a wired connection, and ultimately if I want wireless I'm looking at the same companies who currently provide DSL service (AT&T, Verizon, etc).

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