By Jack E. Lohman
Unfortunately, still with the politicians, and that’s not good. They have it so screwed up it’s pathetic. And now they’ll debate a $500 billion giveaway to the insurance industry at the expense of the public.
The best thing the politicians could do is kill everything in Congress and start from scratch.
But this time, instead of trying to satisfy the insurance and other campaign contributors, they should take themselves totally out of the loop, turn the issue over to a non-partisan, non-conflicted board of healthcare specialists and give them one chore: return to us the most humane, fair and efficient system for the people of the United States.
While we are waiting we can allow the uninsured and unemployed into Medicare.
And Oh, don’t reinvent the wheel. Visit with the experts in Taiwan who did this same thing for their country some years back. They studied the healthcare systems in every industrialized country in the world and returned with the most logical: An American-style Medicare system for every citizen in their country.
Wow. That sounds simple!
Canada’s system has been unfairly attacked by our insurance interests, mainly because it poses the biggest threat. It works. And they don’t want it to work and are lobbying their parliament to undo it. Tough job, but somebody’s got to do it. 😉
Canada isn’t perfect…
… because they spend only 10% of GDP versus our 16.5%. If they increased their spending by another 2% of GDP they’d eliminate their wait times by expanding their number of hospital beds, diagnostic testing systems (MRIs, etc), and healthcare personnel.
Alternatively they could remove 1/6th of their population from the system, as we’ve done in the United States. That’s what we call “rationing,” and for 47 million of our friends and family members it is all too real.
Our Medicare is expensive on a per patient basis, but only because 70% of our health care costs are consumed in end-of-life. So Medicare gets the brunt of the criticism.
But expand Medicare to 100% of our population, upgrade the under-insured by eliminating pre-existings, replace Medicaid and SCHIP, eliminate co-pays, add vision and dental and mental parity, and the per-capita costs are still less than the $2.7 trillion we are paying today.
That’s what happens when you eliminate the waste and spend it on health care instead.
And as a current Medicare patient and former “private” patient, I’ll take Medicare any day. I see the same (private) doctor and go to the same (private) hospital I’ve enjoyed for years. They just send their bill to a different payer… the Medicare contractor in my state. A “private” contractor, incidentally, with local employees.
What’s wrong with this picture? Mainly it’s that it bypasses the private insurance bureaucracy, which unnecessarily consumes 31% of our private healthcare costs. These are the middlemen who need the cash to offset their high costs for CEO salaries, bonuses, stock options, marketing and legal costs (to facilitate their denials and rescissions), broker commissions, shareholder profits, and even their political contributions that are passed on to the patient.
Yes, you should be mad as hell that your politicians are getting a piece of the healthcare dollars, $125 million in 2008 alone. But that’s an issue to be taken up at the voting booth. And yes, this is corruption, not too different from organized crime.
But it’s ours. Our own, home-grown political system, perpetuated by the politicians we’ve elected to be our nation’s board of directors.
So what’s wrong with the proposed systems?
— For one, they mandate that every American buy an insurance policy (yea, from the same companies that give campaign contributions).
— Can’t afford it? They’ll tell you what you can afford and what you can’t. And if you don’t agree you’ll be fined by the IRS, and if you don’t pay you’ll go to jail. This is Romney’s Massachusetts plan, and that state’s costs have increased since it was implemented.
— The public “option” will cover only 2% of the public, the sickest and most expensive, and even then will be more costly and not a strong competitor. It’ll be run by a private insurance company and subsidized by the taxpayers.
— It will restrict denials for pre-existing diseases but not limit how much the insurance company can gouge you for them. (It’s sort of like the government holding you down while the insurer kicks you in the gut.)
— If this bill passes we will constantly hear “Well, let’s see how our new law works. Call me in five years.” We cannot let it get passed.
— What’s mostly wrong with this bill is its creators — 535 members of congress, most of whom are in the pockets of insurance, pharma, physician and hospital interests. The people are not being represented, and only a 100% turnover in 2010 will correct it.