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).