Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Insurance companies won't cover devices that would help disabled with really efficient net access

Insurance companies have interacted with the computer and cell phone world in a bizarre way, refusing to pay for text-to-speech devices that have general purpose computer uses. This is particularly true of cell phones and netbooks, as written up by Ashlee Vance in a front page story in the New York Times on Tuesday Sept. 15.

Text-to-speech translation hardware supported by insurance is very costly, compared to conventional personal computers, and yet software available with these computers is much cheaper. This can be an argument for libertarian-style conservatives to argue against regulation of health insurance technology. It’s also obvious that people with disabilities will need efficient access to broadband and Internet services (maybe physicist Stephen Hawking is only the most famous example), and the free self-pay market seems to be a lot more responsive than corporate (let alone government and especially Medicare) bureaucracy.

The story title is “Insurers Fight Speech-Impairment Remedy” and the link is here.

In one of my screenplays, people abducted from Earth, housed in a “synecdoche” apartment building in a city on another planet have several kinds of computer terminals in their apartments for different purposes, with one of them being for “telepathic” (faster than light) information exchange with Earth. Imagine network neutrality between planets.

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