Thursday, September 24, 2009

Health Care Reform

We all hear about it every day. We could use some changes in health care to make it less expensive. Does that mean we need to hand over control of it to the government? NO.

Where are the people dying in this country because they have been turned away from hospitals because they don't have insurance? It is against the law for hospitals to do that!

Case in point:

Someone I know in his mid-thirties is an alcoholic that lives in California. He had had four DUI's, his license taken away, and spent many months on house arrest in 2007. In August of 2008 he was in a serious car accident in which he was driving a friend's SUV... drunk. There were no other cars or people involved (THANK GOD!!!) and he was seriously injured. He was in the hospital for a month and required rehabilitation services for a brain injury for months afterward. He had no insurance and no way to pay... yet, he received the care.

I know families that receive state health and dental care for their children because they fall below a certain income level.

Health care costs are through the roof. That has more to do with sleazeball trial attorneys than anything else.

And that is my rant for the day on current U.S. political happenings.


Susanne said...

Well done! :)

Anonymous said...

Finally - I've been waiting ALL summer to hear your views on healthcare reform.

It's interesting to see how Americans view the role of government, compared with Europeans. Us Europeans seem to take government control for granted but Americans seem to be almost 'allergic' to it.

When researching, one statistic struck me as very odd - the US government spends more (per person) on healthcare than nearly all other countries, including European states with single-payer systems. What does that mean?

What does need to be reformed is Medicare & Medicaid. I know it sounds harsh, but people who can't afford health insurance can't expect the same extensive and luxurious level of coverage that people who can afford, get.

BLBeamer said...

I think Shafiq makes an excellent point about our Medicare and Medicaid system, but I'd like to address the statistic he quotes regarding the higher per capita costs in the US.

Did Shafiq really mean to say that the US government spends more per capita on health care? If so that totally blows away the pro-government option folks' argument that a government program is necessary to "control costs" of health care.

I have never heard or seen the statistic Shafiq quoted. I have seen the statistic that "the US" spends more per capita on health care than other countries. I have problems with this statistic as commonly repeated for two main reasons: 1) it conflates private spending and government spending; 2) it does not take into account the fact that Americans receive more value for their dollar per capita than other countries.

Mrs. Beamer said...

Shafiq, many Americans are wary of big government and big government programs. Individual liberty/freedom and rugged individualism are ingrained into our national psyche. We are naturally suspicious of anything that manages our behavior, our money, our choices, our rights, by an elite group that supposes they know better how to run our lives than we do as individuals. That is why you are seeing so many Americans rising up and rebelling against forced government health care. We don't trust government intrusion into our private lives and we don't want it!

Barry Goldwater, the late senator from the state of Arizona, once said: "Every man for his individual good and for the good of his society, is responsible for his own development. The choices that govern his life are choices he must make, they cannot be made by any other human being or by a collectivity of human beings."

Obama Health Care is seeking to take our individual care choices away from us and that is why Americans are bristling at the very thought of it.

Coffee Bean said...

Well... now that we are talking about this here I have a lot more I want to say, LOL! It is going to have to wait until later though. Too much going on today!

Roland Hulme said...

Shafiq's absolutely right - I wrote about it here.

The US taxpayer is funding a system that could pay for the British National Health Service or the French health insurance system (the French one is the best in the world) - yet we pay more than twice as much ON TOP out of our own pocket.

BLBeamer said...

I have relatives who live in France (until recently in Nantes, now in Guadaloupe) and they rave about the health care system in France. While I have never experienced French health care, I can't help but be more than a little skeptical of what I believe is their chauvinisme.

This is the same system that allowed about 10,000 elderly to die a few years ago from a heat wave because the doctors were on vacation.

This is also the same system that is now incorporating co-pays because it - like the US government health care provider - is broke.

We have the best quality of health care in the world, despite having a bankrupt government system and a private system fraught with bad incentives and saddled with consumer unfriendly laws.

Always, and everywhere, providing consumers more choices and control over their spending brings down costs and improves quality.

Rather than allow the government to co-opt a high quality system and make it bankrupt and unhealthy, why won't Congress pass laws that give the consumers of health care more control over their health care spending?

Currently, many if not most people do not pay for the health care they use - an uninvolved third party does.

Anonymous said...

Hi all,

I got the statistic from the Economist. They could be wrong, but that statistic has been used by them quite often.

I also came across another interesting statistic (also from the Economist) - the healthcare of 87 million Americans is covered by the government in the form of Medicare, Medicaid and the Veteran's one (I can't remember the name) - almost a third of the population.

I wonder whether a Singaporean system would be more appealing - The government provides a base coverage for everyone through compulsory payroll deductions. Most coverage is provided however, privately, with supplemental health insurance provided either by employers or paid individually.

Roland Hulme said...

BL Beamer - my parents live in France and I worked their for many years - it's not exaggerated. It is VERY good. They've ALWAYS had copay - it's actually a model that's more like the American system than anything else.

BLBeamer said...

Hi, Roland. I didn't mean to imply the French never had co-pays before. In my rush, I probably did imply that, though. Hopefully the WSJ article I linked to is clearer than I was. The increased co-pays were specifically on prescription drugs and other services.

It remains a fact, though, that government health care - wherever it is - is a budget buster and always results in rationing and such measures.

Roland Hulme said...

Hi BL Beamer - you're right. They recently upped the copays - but it actually doesn't affect the French much because they have a HUGE supplemental (and totally private) insurance program to cover the co-pays. It's something we should have in America.

But you're right - the French system is nudging into the red - but that's EXACTLY what's happening in America, too. Health care cost has increased 100% in the last ten years and will do the same in the next ten years.

I don't get why 'rationing' is so 'bad' when it's done from a government-funded perspective, but is totally acceptable when it's private health insurers refusing coverage, or covering fewer procedures. ALL health care system ration.

The ONLY difference between the US system and the French is that the French government runs the insurance program - many of the health care providers are actually private businesses, just like in America.

Mr. Macchiato said...

No discussion of runaway malpractice suits or defensive medicine costs. Some articles I have read attribute as much as 50% of healthcare costs to malpractice/defensive medicine. Many doctors are simply quitting due to malpractice costs. Many potential doctors are forgoing med school due to the threat of law suits. We cannot reduce healthcare costs without addressing the number one cost driver.

Anonymous said...

50%? That's a LOT. I have to admit, I don't know much about the difference in malpractice laws between the US and other countries.

Coffee Bean said...

Looking at it from an uneducated housewife's view, there is much out there that is just on the surface that do not add up. I do not understand how people, even those that know very little about how our health care system works, aren't catching it and asking the questions that should be asked.

#1 If it is illegal for hospitals to turn patients away then how are people being turned away and dying because they do not have health insurance in this country? How many times have you heard people hollering about that? I hear it a lot. Show me the facts! That is a sound bite that people have picked up and run with.

Here are some facts from the National Coalition on Health Care:

"Lack of insurance compromises the health of the uninsured because they receive less preventive care, they are diagnosed at more advanced disease stages, and once diagnosed, tend to receive less therapeutic care and have higher mortality rates than insured individuals."

"On average, the uninsured are 9 to 10 times more likely to forgo medical care because of cost and twice as likely to have medical debt."

There are many other statistics reported at that site. I think that what we need to remember that a certain number of ininsured people are that way by choice. I am sure there are people that truly cannot afford to pay their portion of the cost of medical insurance through their employers. I am also sure that in a lot of cases that that is truly a choice of theirs as they choose to forego insurance and risk medical expense yet are not without certain luxuries. I've know quite a few people personally that have chosen to not pay for health insurance yet live in nice homes, wear nice clothes, drive nice cars, eat out, etc.

#2 Insurance is expensive. Yes, it is. Should something be done about it? Yes. Is our only option government control of health care?

I've had people argue with me that our cost would actually go down. Really? How are more people going to be covered for less money? I've never been good at math but... that does not add up.

President Obama has stated himself that too much is being done when maybe we could get by by taking a medication.

Rationing is a reality of the proposed health care reform bill. Everything cannot be done for everyone.

#3 Insurance companies already control what they cover and what they do not. It is the competition between the insurance companies, packages they offer employers and individuals, and quality of service they provide that keeps them in business. What is going to happen to these businesses if this bill passes? Obama says that people can continue with their private insurance if they choose... but they cannot switch insurance. Regulations will be put in place that will essentially run the insurance companies out of business.

We are only being given one option. Hopefully, the uproar over health care is enough to stop this. Those of us opposed are not heartless. We do not want to see people going without needed health care. We just do not think this is the way.

Coffee Bean said...

I forgot to add one of my points!

All of us are going to die. To say that lack of medical insurance is the cause of so many deaths is assinine. There is much more that goes into it and lifestyle choices are a very important component.

Like my husband (Mr. Macchiato) said, runaway malpractice suits and/or defensive medicine costs are a huge factor in the cost to all of us. Why not start there and work on coming up with some better alternatives in getting those people that fall through the current cracks insured?

BLBeamer said...

A study published by the American Journal of Public Health estimates that people without health insurance in the 25-64 age range have slightly higher mortality than those with insurance. They extrapolated from their sample of 9,000 people that about 45,000 deaths per year are associated with lack of health insurance in the US.

That is 0.015% of the population (15/1000 of one percent). As tragic as those deaths are, it seems illogical to destroy our existing system for the sake of 0.015% of the population.