Forget about Canada, we can do better!

            

By Jack E. Lohman

Yes, Canada’s health care system has wait times, and well it should. They spend just 10% of GDP compared to our 16%. But they cover 100% of Canadians and we only cover 85% of Americans and leave another 15% under-insured.

If Canada took one of every six people out of line, as we effectively do here in the U.S., they’d not have wait times either! But they are, indeed, underserving their people. Shame on them.

But enough about Canada, let’s talk about the U.S.. We have the best doctors and nurses in the world, we just don’t make good use of them. Let’s fix the system we have.

Let’s follow Taiwan’s lead. They recently reformed their system after studying every health care system in the world. They came back with an answer, and modeled their new system after … drum roll please … our Medicare.

Medicare isn’t perfect, and it must be fixed. But those fixes are being blocked by the politicians whose campaigns are funded by the hospital, insurance and pharmaceutical industries. Or they have personal investments in them. We must at least get rid of the wasteful insurance bureaucracy, and some corrupt politicians as well.

Actually, private healthcare has even more waste and fraud than does Medicare. Excessive charges, high broker commissions, high executive salaries and bonuses and stock options, shareholder profits, and even lobbying and campaign contributions are added to the system and passed on to the patient. And they refuse the sickest of the sick, all things the insurers want to preserve.

Doctors and nurses, even hospital CEOs, should be paid well… very well. But they shouldn’t be expected to share the health care dollars with an industry that never lays hands on the patient. Our current insurance bureaucracy is draining 31% of health care costs, when those dollars should be spent on patient care instead.

Medicare is simple: You get sick, you get care, and the caregiver gets paid. Nothing more complicated than that. Even the Medicare drug plan – which will cost taxpayers $780 billion over the next decade – could be turned over to our drug stores at a fraction of the cost. The doctor would write a prescription, the patient would pay a deductible, and the drug store would bill Medicare the balance. Nothing could be simpler.

But the insurance industry doesn’t like simple; complexity is more profitable.

So, who’d pay for a Medicare-for-all system?

The same people that are paying for it today, the taxpayers. But we’d pay less than we pay today. We are now paying through cost-shifting, higher taxes, bankruptcy costs, and when employers add their costs to their product price and we reimburse them at the cash register.

For the same amount of dollars we are spending today, we could provide first-class care to 100% of our population, employed and unemployed, and we’d eliminate COBRA and the tie to employers.

But we’d pay for it differently than we are today.

Employers would be freed of the costs and be able to compete with foreign companies that do not have health care costs built into their product. Less outsourcing would occur. The Big Three automakers are building more cars in Ontario than in Detroit because Canadian healthcare costs are $850 per employee per year versus $6500 here. Janesville, are you listening? Gov. Doyle?

Instead of outsourcing our expensive surgeries to India and other countries, where travel exposures and malpractice issues arise, we should be eliminating our outrageous waste here in the US. As the more expensive and profitable tests are outsourced, hospitals will lose critical revenue and require taxpayer subsidies or more cost shifting. A downward spiral will ensue as U.S. hospitals are left only with low cost and emergency procedures.

Isn’t free-market medicine great?

How much longer can we send our cash and jobs to other countries?

How much longer can we withhold vital care from our own people?

How much longer can we allow our politicians to sell us out?

Medicare-for-all would cover all citizens, including our politicians and Medicaid/BadgerCare patients, and it would greatly reduce overall administration costs. We’d use the same doctors and hospitals we are using today, so there would not be any wait times or degradation in service.

A full 59% of physicians and an even greater number of nurses already support this change, and we’d hope the next administration does its job and passes John Conyers’ HR676 (see www.hr676.org).

10 Responses to Forget about Canada, we can do better!

  1. Kevin says:

    Jack, you’re just a socialist at heart and have done little real study of the world’s programs.
    We cannot pay for Medicare as the cost is rising twice as fast as the GNP, how will we pay for a full blown govnermental boondoggle like national health.

  2. Kevin, there is no question that Medicare must be improved, as I have previously said. But private “for-profit” healthcare is in even worse shape than Medicare. I don’t know what business you are in, but my last 35 years has been in the health care industry.

    Study the links in the Health Care Resources page. Understand the whole issue, including that our current costs are more than twice those of every other country in the world. Understand that we are already paying the costs of a single-payer system, we just aren’t getting one because part of our payments are also funding profiteering.

    The way we can afford it is to pay for it differently than we are today, which means eliminating the costly insurance bureaucracy. That allows us to spend that wasted 31% on health care rather than make-work to pad the pockets of the executives.

    Read what I said above:

    “For the same amount of dollars we are spending today, we could provide first-class care to 100% of our population, employed and unemployed, and we’d eliminate COBRA and the tie to employers.”

    We can’t afford NOT TO provide universal health care. Our nation’s economy depends on it.

  3. John says:

    For me, when you wrote: “But the insurance industry doesn’t like simple; complexity is more profitable,” it really comes down to this simple ploy to delay and confuse the obvious.

    In attempting to get your message out there, I featured parts of your solution at my blog as well, along with links.

    The “government is bad” argument only reinforces the fact that Republicans don’t have the ability to make it better. Using a health care analogy: Instead of making the sick patient healthy and productive, we kill them. It sure cuts down on the costs.

  4. Thanks John, and you are absolutely right. The insurance industry knows they are on the way out, but anything they can do to delay the inevitable adds dollars to their bottom line. The longer the delay, the more they profit.

    What is terribly disturbing is the way they are achieving the delay: by paying off the politicians. They are working for us but taking money from them!

    And thanks for the added coverage on your blog. Hopefully these jerks will someday feel ashamed enough to fix the campaign finance system.

  5. [...] Health care reform Forget about Canada, we can do better! [...]

  6. Mark says:

    Being a Canadian I’m fully aware of the good & bad sides of our health care system. I’ve read extensively about our & other countries health care system & what it really boils down to is one question:
    How much money are we willing to pay to have a system take care of all of our peoples. Rich and poor, young and old.
    Well suffice to say that although the U.S.A. might be a great place to live, if you don’t have any money, don’t get sick…
    Yes the UK and Canada have a “socialistic” health care system and it does have its faults but try explaining that to your US counterpart who is broke, needs to be operated on and is systematically being told:
    Sorry old chap, too bad about your disease but since you don’t have the dough, you won’t get the treatment…

  7. Thanks Mark. I’ve heard a lot of good things about Canada, and the only bad one is wait times. But if Canada would increase their spending by just 10% they could eliminate even those waits. And they’d still be at 11% of GDP versus our 16%.

    Seems like a no-brainer, but our politicians are on the take from the healthcare industry.

  8. [...] that is; they now manufacture more cars in Canada because they only pay $800 per employee. And 80% of Canadians prefer their healthcare system to ours, even with their wait times. But since we spend twice what [...]

  9. [...] We can do better! [...]

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