Democrats & Liberals Archives

A Universal Healthcare Compromise

Both conservatives and liberals agree that our current healthcare system is a mess. They disagree on the merits of possible solutions. Conservatives want to shift resposibility and costs directly to each individual, while liberals want the government to shoulder the task of providing healthcare to all Americans. I propose a compromise of a Universal Healthcare System that has both conservative and liberal elements.

It heartened me to find that some conservatives are recommending a healthcare system that covers ALL Americans. Hank McKinnell, chairman and CEO of Pfizer Inc, a top-notch pharmaceutical company, wrote a book called "A Call to Action - Taking Back Healthcare for Future Generations," in which he says:

"At a minimum, the system I envision requires that no American should lack access to healthcare because he or she lacks the ability to pay for it, and that no American should suffer significant financial distress or personal bankruptcy as a result of unpaid medical bills."

OK. Conservatives and liberals agree that our system of healthcare should cover everyone. They disagree on the means for achieving this goal. Their disagreement takes place primarily in three areas: who pays, how to control costs and how to improve the system.

  • WHO PAYS - Conservatives say that employers are stuck holding the bag for ever-increasing employee healthcare costs; it's time for employees and individuals in general to be responsible for payment. Liberals counter that this is not fair; either employers or the government should pay healthcare costs for all

  • COST CONTROL - McKinnell raves against cost control and government regulation. He is in favor of competition, which he feels can be achieved with Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) that may be used in a competitive medical market. This is his way of controlling costs. Liberals worry that with HSAs, high-earning patients will do well whereas low-earning or non-earning patients will be dispossessed. They prefer a single-payer system that guarantees payment to all patients. By the way, for those biased against government, the Issues in Science and Technology magazine tells us that, contrary to what many believe:

    "Looking back over the period from 1970 to 1997, Medicare's cost containment performance has been better than that of private insurance."

  • SYSTEM IMPROVEMENT - Conservatives dwell on malpractice reform. By making malpractice suits more difficult to do and by capping awards they think they will improve the system. Liberals say that malpractice suits are needed to recover damages for those who have been victimized. We must agree though, says McKinnell, that malpractice law is too adversarial, increases costs and does not satisfy anyone. He prefers a new non-adversarial Medical Court System
I hate McKinnell's HSAs but I love his Medical Court. This set me to thinking. Maybe we can build a healthcare system that has both conservative and liberal elements, the kind that could be enacted by Congress. Here is my first try at a compromise for a Universal Healthcare System:
  • SINGLE PAYER - Conservatives want the health burden removed from employers. Liberals would be ready to do this if employees are not subjected to the tentacles of insurance companies. The government should be the single payer for smooth, simplified operation

  • VOUCHER SYSTEM - Conservatives may think that a single-payer system would do away with competition. This can be tempered with a voucher issued each year to each person - a different amount for each, depending on the subject's health. The patient then spends the money in a competitive medical market

  • MEDICAL COURT - This is a terrific idea which everybody should be in favor of. Instead of a system where the patient fights with his doctor and which allows medical transgressions to be hidden, we could have a non-adversarial system where all people involved work together to compensate victims, sanction incompetents, decrease medical mistakes and improve medical outcomes in the future. Associated with this new Medical Court System would be a Medical Information System to advance medical knowhow
This is my suggestion for a practical Universal Healthcare System that could be enacted by Congress. What do you think?

Posted by Paul Siegel at January 4, 2006 8:12 PM
Comments
Comment #110267

My response to each of your system features:

SINGLE PAYER - Conservatives want the health burden removed from employers. Liberals would be ready to do this if employees are not subjected to the tentacles of insurance companies. The government should be the single payer for smooth, simplified operation.

MY APPROACH - There is a third way: allow everyone to opt for either Medicare or a private insurance carrier. A standard mantra of the Right is that Medicare should have to compete with the market. The counter is that the market should have to compete with Medicare as well.

If private insurance carriers are allowed to compete with Medicare, they should have to follow specific non-negotiable rules. First, anyone who applies is guaranteed a mandated level of coverage, at the same rates charged by Medicare. No exclusions for pre-existing
conditions, guaranteed response time to pay all claims.

The carrots for private carriers are that they would be allowed to offer “Cadillac” plans in addition to the basic plans, and would be allowed to petition for givebacks from providers if they can prove pattern of overcharges or unnecessary services.

Since insurance carriers would be in the business of paying all claims, but at the lowest possible cost, there would likely be an emerging industry of “virtual” insurance companies, similar to online banks and finance companies, with heavy reliance on technology and very lean staffs.

VOUCHER SYSTEM - Conservatives may think that a single-payer system would do away with competition. This can be tempered with a voucher issued each year to each person - a different amount for each, depending on the subject’s health. The patient then spends the money in a competitive medical market.

MY APPROACH - The rise of “virtual” insurance carriers would ensure a competitive market-based system and eliminate the need for vouchers.


MEDICAL COURT - This is a terrific idea which everybody should be in favor of. Instead of a system where the patient fights with his doctor and which allows medical transgressions to be hidden, we could have a non-adversarial system where all people involved work together to compensate victims, sanction incompetents, decrease medical mistakes and improve medical outcomes in the future. Associated with this new Medical Court System would be a Medical Information System to advance medical knowhow.

MY APPROACH - Current law, not much publicized, now requires all hospitals to report adverse events to patients or their responsible parties. This needs to be enforced in order to stop hospitals from sweeping events under the rug. Where this system has been implemented, malpractice suits have gone down, which seems to indicate that coverups piss people off more than honest mistakes.

Also, implementing John Edwards’ plan to screen frivolous lawsuits out of the system along with the lawyers who continually file them could help with medical malpractice. A Medical Court system is part of the overall approach.

Finally, we need one more component, a form of individual mandate. Although liberals seem to recoil at the idea, and conservatives muck it up to favor insurance companies and providers at the expense of patients and the insured, it is esssential if we are to fund universal coverage.

I would not mandate insurance coverage. Instead, I would make everyone responsible for the cost of their health care costs and that of their dependents. Everyone could choose to either self-fund their care or obtain immediate coverage on the spot when they show up at a doctor’s office or hospital. Since medical debts are (thanks to the Republicans) not allowed to be included in bankruptcy filings, self-funding would be incredibly risky, and no one in his or her right mind would choose it. But they would not be forced to carry insurance except by their own choosing.

Posted by: Robert Benjamin at January 4, 2006 8:55 PM
Comment #110284

Mind telling me what good these what-if scenarios are? While I see the need to vent frustration, I doubt armchair generals will ever be listened to.

Posted by: Aldous at January 4, 2006 10:21 PM
Comment #110285

Paul-

Major healthcare reform will not happen anytime soon given our current political landscape; the best we can hope for are small, incremental changes. Universal healthcare will not happen. Neither will a dismantling of the current employer based system in favor of HSA’s. I applaud you for suggesting that we need a middle ground.

One idea that could get us headed in the right direction would be to reform the tax code to allow all health insurance premiums to be tax deductible. That would gradually move us towards a individual based system over the current employer based concept, and hopefully spur some market creativity in the development of new insurance products (away from cost reimbursement and more towards fixed price per service).

This is a Cato proposal, and it should be an easy sell on the right (tax cuts and lessoning the burden on business). Obviously it doesn’t solve the problem, and it does move us more toward individual healthcare insurance. But what other resistance would you envision the left would have?

Thanks

Posted by: George in SC at January 4, 2006 10:24 PM
Comment #110293

Aldous,

If no one but us reads these posts, then they won’t matter. I have found that some, not many, but some blog discussions rise to the level of business brainstorming, in which solid ideas come out of continuous discussions. If one of these ideas matures to the point where it can become a self-sustaining common-ground approach to a serious societal problem, then we may have contributed something.

George,

Support for employer-based health insurance is plummeting, primarily in the business community. At the same time, I think that a single-payer system is less likely than a hybrid system involving both Medicare and market-based payment providers.

Posted by: Robert Benjamin at January 4, 2006 10:52 PM
Comment #110299

Paul

I think at first blush, that I like elements of both your compromise and Robert Benjamen’s. I don’t have time to write extensively here.

We need some kind of single payer system and universal health care. We also need a way to make individual consumers accountable for thier health care choices. For example, my doctor has finally driven the point home to me, that the pharmacy that I have been choosing to use because it is closest to my home, is the most expensive in the area. It took me a while to figure out why he kept trying to refer me to different pharmacies. I had no motive to do comparitive shopping because my out of pocket co-pay was the same at all pharmacies - so I didn’t and accordingly I have been wasting health care dollars for the exact same care. And we do need competition with medicare because they are the best most efficient and least expensive. The medical court is probably also a good idea.

The point that I really want to drive home here is the importance of a single payer system. Here is why. I am a UAW employee of GM. You may have heard of GM’s and Delphi’s problems. GM makes great cars, but there has been a lot of mismanagement. One of biggest competitive disadvantages confronting GM and Delphi is that our work force is old, broken down, worn out from hard work, unhealthy and retired. The Japanese transplants are young, healthy, and not old eneough to retire. Any well established company in any industry is going to be at a major competitive disadvantage to any new start up company. Right now the advantage is too the Japanese transplants but in ten years it will be to the Chinese transplants and Toyota, Nissan, and Honda will be facing bankruptcy. One way that this competitive unfairness could be evened out is if our non-union brothers and sisters at the transplants would join the UAW and become union brothers and sisters. Right now the transplants pay comparable wages to thier employees in order to keep the UAW out of thier plants. So the high wages and benifits that our non-union brothers and sisters earn are won by the courage, sacrifice, blood, sweat, and tears of the UAW which fights for a better standard of living for all working Americans. However the transplants are still cheating thier workers because thier total compensation is much lower because thier benifits are much less expensive and if the UAW is successfully crushed then the front line of defense for the transplant workers and indeed for all Americans will disappear and companies will unfairly exploit thier workers all the more. (If anyone is interested thier is going to be a protest at the auto show led by the Soldiers of Solidarity and details can be found at www.futureoftheunion.com .) If our non-union brothers and sisters would join the union then the UAW would win real equal pay and benifits (social equity) for them and balance out the unfair competitive advantages that these foriegn transplants enjoy. However that appears unlikely. So we need a single payer health care system that will help to level the playing field for all bussinesses, both start up and established, and for all American workers everywhere.

Posted by: Ray G. at January 4, 2006 11:29 PM
Comment #110312

Paul,

Really good point to bring up and one that is not talked about nearly enough. I understand that we’re at war. I don’t for one minute disregard that, but the healthcare issue here at home is crippling large and small companies, the working poor, the middle class, and every taxpayer.

I’m blessed. You all help pay my medical bills. I’m on Medicare. I pay about $100.00 a month for supplemental insurance that covers nearly any inpatient or outpatient procedure. Since the first of the month I’m now covered under the new Medicare part D plan. For me it’s great. I get about $300.00 worth of meds for about $50.00 each month.

And you are all paying for it. Thanks. Throughout a working history beginning in about 1965 and ending in 2001 I’ve never had it so good. Unforunately my kids don’t have it so good nor does the average American worker.

I know this all too well myself from my last working days. The premiums, deductibles, and max out of pocket expenses keep rising constantly. So the average worker supports how many people out of their paycheck?

That’s not even counting the huge number of uninsured that slave at McDonalds or Subway so we can have a cheap sandwich and they get no benefits whatsoever. The number of uninsured workers has to be astounding.

I’ve watched my kids have to debate seriously whether to take out family coverage or just gamble on being healthy. Now some might say if they choose not to be insured that’s their tough luck. Hmmmmm, somewhat, but once a health issue becomes serious most of the uninsured end up in the ER.

Well, then you can be sued for not paying, eh? Yes, but as they say you can’t squeeze blood out of a turnip. Even after garnishments and property seizure a vast number of medical bills end up “uncollectible”. Who do you think picks up the tab? Everyone that can and does pay, including the insurance companies who just pass it on to their policy holders.

The trend just keeps spiraling downwards and now everyone is paying (except me). So what’s the Bush plan? Private accounts. Hmm, how does that work for a guy with a wife and two kids that’s making $9.00 an hour? Of course he’s managed to make it tougher to sue a negligent doctor. I’m sure that will help a lot.

This is a huge problem and deserves the attention of a “health czar”. So how do you pick an appointee for such a serious position? Well, you could start with looking at Governors or past Governors that have done well with containing health costs in their home state.

Once again, this is an excellent topic and one that really can’t be denied. The solution is not simple by any means.

KansasDem

Posted by: KansasDem at January 5, 2006 2:25 AM
Comment #110343

“Conservatives want to shift resposibility and costs directly to each individual, while liberals want the government to shoulder the task of providing healthcare to all Americans”

Where does govt get the money to provide healthcare for all Americans? From us.
We either pay for it directly or indirectly dont we?
I really don’t get this “govt nanny” idea that people have.

Posted by: kctim at January 5, 2006 9:30 AM
Comment #110359

National Health Care? AGAIN?
I thought this got settled with Clinton.
If yaall really want lower health care cost the last thing you should want is for the Government to get involved.
The fastest way to lower cost is to get rid of insurance. If the consummer is paying out of their own pocket they’ll demand lower prices. And shop for them. How long do you think it’ll be before doctors, hospitals, and pharmacies will start lowering their prices when they start loosing coutsomers to someone with lower prices?
The last thing I want is more Government medeling in my life. NO NATIONAL HEALTH CARE!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Ron Brown at January 5, 2006 10:38 AM
Comment #110366

Ron,

I think what you meant to say was:

“ME ME ME ME ME!”

Posted by: Burt at January 5, 2006 10:58 AM
Comment #110368
Conservatives want to shift resposibility and costs directly to each individual, while liberals want the government to shoulder the task of providing healthcare to all Americans

That’s not quite right, Paul. Democrats want to bring costs down so that individuals can have their own personal portable affordable health insurance. Neither side wants business to have to pay for it, and Democrats don’t want the govt to subsidize it.

Kerry had a bunch of good ideas for making healthcare affordable — some of them he stole from the Republicans:

Enroll as many Americans as possible in a health insurance plan (Kerry proposed the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program which already covers 9 million Americans) — this lowers the cost of healthcare by amortizing it over hundreds of millions of people, eliminates the cost of treating the uninsured, and encourages preventative treatment to cure ailments before they become expensive.

Other measures included closing loopholes that allow drug makers to game the patent system and artificially inflate medicaion prices, tax credits to modernize record keeping (estimated to cut healthcare costs in half), and disbarring lawyers who repeatedly file frivolous malpractice suits.

The bottom line is that Democrats want to make healthcare affordable, take the responsibility off of business, and put it in the hands of every American.

Posted by: American Pundit at January 5, 2006 11:02 AM
Comment #110370

Even though Ron appears to be spelling-challenged, I must agree with his basic philosophy about keeping the government’s meddling to a minimum. Medical costs are so high partially because people never gave a damn how much something cost, because their insurance paid for it, they got their insurace through their jobs, and it was essentially free. Unfortunately, some people (myself, for example) simply cannot afford the surgery we need regardless of competitive costing…Right now I sit here typing this in a great deal of pain, because I need an operation to remove most of my lower intestine, and I just ain’t got the money. Period. No insurance, nothing but a few bucks in the bank which I have saved all my life to accumulate and which wouldn’t cover 1/20 of the cost. And with the new legislation, I can’t even declare bankruptcy.

Interestingly enough, there are many foreign countries in which I could have this done affordably, with great professionalism. (looking into those) Why are we so much more expensive? (All the doctors I know live in huge homes and drive Lexus SUV’s)

So…guess I’ll just go die. Meanwhile, maybe somebody will come up with something.

Posted by: capnmike at January 5, 2006 11:07 AM
Comment #110371
The fastest way to lower cost is to get rid of insurance. If the consummer is paying out of their own pocket they’ll demand lower prices. And shop for them.

Ron, I think I saw a going-out-of-business sale on heart surgery over on the East Side. And I’ll clip this here coupon from the paper for ya: All resperatory treatments 75% off.

Seriously, healthcare isn’t a market. You just described a system where the rich get treatment and the poor die.

Posted by: American Pundit at January 5, 2006 11:07 AM
Comment #110374

There’s one aspect of this whole thing that you’re all missing, and that’s the reason WHY healthcare costs are rising.

Consider this — 100 years ago, heart transplants didn’t exist. People who needed them simply died. Today, they exist, and are VERY expensive. But people think that anyone who needs one should get one, whether they can afford it or not. We seem to think that the poorest person in the country still has the right to the best medical care money can buy. Simply put, this model isn’t sustainable.

Here’s another example — Imagine that someone invented a pill that cured cancer. All you had to do was take 1 pill every day, and your cancer would go into permanent remission. Unfortunately, due to the high manufacturing costs, it cost one million dollars per pill to produce. A one-year dose would cost $365 million. We would be stuck with four choices:

1) Insurance companies could cover it for everyone, and raise premiums to the point that nobody could afford insurance;

2) Medicare could cover it, and raise taxes to the point that the economy would crumble;

3) The drug would only be available to those who could afford it themselves; or

4) Someone would have to pick and choose who would be healed and who wouldn’t.

This is obviously an extreme example, but the point is that our ability to perform medical miracles is growing faster than our ability to pay for them. Life expectancies are increasing, but each year of life we add costs more than the last. At some point, we’re going to be in the uncomfortable position of choosing who is worth saving and who isn’t. Is it worth it to put millions of dollars into life-saving efforts for an 80-year-old man to live a few years longer, when we have the pain medication to let him die comfortably now?

Posted by: Rob Cottrell at January 5, 2006 11:23 AM
Comment #110376

One fact the article lacks. Medical malpractice accounts for less than 2% of medical costs. This is yet another example of Republicans being dishonest lying to push an agenda.

In fact, most of their “facts” concerning health care are bogus. They are designed to keep a single payer system from ever happening.

I say, we challenge them to a straight-up competition. We establish a single-payer system that allows everyone a chance to join.
Your employer usually has a choice of healhplans. My former employer offered Kaiser
HMO and UnitedHealthCare PPO. The employer paid an unspecified amount and you would have to pay so much for the HMO and so much for the PPO.

So, we add the government plan to your choices, taking the employer contribution and so much from the employee.

To this rather large potential group, we can add all Medicare patients.

My bet is that the single-payer system would soon outpace all private health plans.

This would not cover all citizens. It would have the effect of proving the superiority of a
system that covers millions of people, with low costs guaranteed by buying power.

But it would be a start. And the next step,
universal coverage, would then be much easier to sell to the American people.

Posted by: anthony at January 5, 2006 11:27 AM
Comment #110381

Anthony
Even though your plan sounds like its just another insurance plan, I would be all for it.
As long as it is 100% voluntary to join and I would not be taxed one cent to support itin any way, I say go for it.

Posted by: kctim at January 5, 2006 11:51 AM
Comment #110387

Seriously, healthcare isn’t a market. You just described a system where the rich get treatment and the poor die.

Posted by: American Pundit at January 5, 2006 11:07 AM

According to yaall that’s happening now. And I can guarentee it’ll happen even more with National Health Insurance.

Posted by: Ron Brown at January 5, 2006 12:09 PM
Comment #110389
Is it worth it to put millions of dollars into life-saving efforts for an 80-year-old man to live a few years longer, when we have the pain medication to let him die comfortably now?

Oh my God. Who gets to make this decision? What would it be based on? Cost? Quality of life? That’s a decision I don’t want anyone making except the family and the family’s doctor.

What I don’t understand about all these posts is this:

Healthcare does not function like a market. If you are in need of immediate care, how in the world do you shop? This is much too complex an issue for some of the simple remedies posted here.

And this premise of making each person responsible for thier own healthcare instead of having insurance in some form. It’s just another way to try to get rid of the poor in this country. Disgusting.

Posted by: womanmarine at January 5, 2006 12:13 PM
Comment #110396
Is it worth it to put millions of dollars into life-saving efforts for an 80-year-old man to live a few years longer, when we have the pain medication to let him die comfortably now?
Oh my God. Who gets to make this decision?

The Republicans, of course. Don’t you remember Terry Schiavo? Oh, wait. Republicans wanted to spend millions of dollars to keep a brain-dead woman alive a few years longer.

Rob, I’m confused. Do you guys want a culture of life, or not?

100 years ago, heart transplants didn’t exist… Today, they exist, and are VERY expensive.

Why? The heart is donated, and the price of the support machinery is amortized over its lifetime. It should be pretty cheap.

Posted by: American Pundit at January 5, 2006 12:26 PM
Comment #110397

Actually AP, Shiavo’s PARENTS were fighting to keep her alive and to take care of her because they loved her and new first hand, of what mental capacity she was in.
Sheesh, I thought you guys were supposed to be for the weak and innocent.

Womanmarine
Personal responsibility is disgusting to YOU, not me.
Quit trying to force YOUR beliefs onto me by making me financially support what YOU, not me, think is right.

Posted by: kctim at January 5, 2006 12:36 PM
Comment #110403

kctim:

No responsibility for your fellow man? I thought that caring for your neighbor and “the least of these” was a christian idea?

I firmly believe that it is my responsibility to help care for those unable to do for themselves in any way I can. I believe that one way to do that is through the government, for the good of all.

I am always amazed at the non-christian attitudes of some of the ideas posted.

Posted by: womanmarine at January 5, 2006 1:03 PM
Comment #110404

How would the average American pay for a catastrophic illnesses or injury?
Especially sudden ones?

I was just in a car accident and injured my knee. I decided not to go to the hospital because I knew the cost of an ambluance is astomonical, the cost of the X-Rays, and treatment would probably not help my knee, and what with the deductions on our insurance I was more concerned about the cost than treatment. I was also afraid of being ‘dropped’.

This is how many of the middle class look at insurance. They pay for it, and pray they never need it, because most plans are limited, especially in the middle health area.

I also didn’t want to go to the ER because I knew I would be there most of the night - a minimum of 4-5 hours, while waiting for the lower economic class to use the ER as a family doctor. I’m not necessarily blaming them - they have only medicade to care for them, and can’t afford to pay for insurance.

How would any of you suggest helping out with the above senario? Any part of it… From the insurance deductibles, the high cost of treatment, the poor using the ER as a family doctor, and the fear of being dropped.

On top of it all my kneecap which I found out after waiting over a week is actually broken.

This was only partly my fault - I simply don’t have the money to pay out of pocket, and don’t know how I will come up with the deductible, let alone continue to pay for the medications that have been prescribed, as well as the cost of physical therapy I will need, plus my individual insurance payment, since I am no longer covered with a group insurance plan.

Maybe we should put a cap on medical lawsuits? Or pay for the costs of medical school? Or perhaps figure out a group plan for those who can’t afford insurance - ooppps thats medicade isn’t it? Oh well those are the only things I can come up with.


Posted by: Linda H. at January 5, 2006 1:06 PM
Comment #110406

Womanmarine
“No responsibility for your fellow man?”

Not at the expense of my own family.

“I thought that caring for your neighbor and “the least of these” was a christian idea?”

I thought Christian ideas had no place in govt.

“I firmly believe that it is my responsibility to help care for those unable to do for themselves in any way I can.”

Are you not forcing your beliefs onto me by forcing me to support them?
If you firmly believe it is YOUR responsibility to help those who are unable or unwilling, why force me to help?

“I believe that one way to do that is through the government, for the good of all.”

I believe personal responsibility is “for the good of all.”
I would not force you to accept my beliefs and quit giving your time and money to help, so why must you force me to give my time and money to accept and support your beliefs?

“I am always amazed at the non-christian attitudes of some of the ideas posted”

Eh, what can you do. Not all of us are Christians.

Posted by: kctim at January 5, 2006 1:23 PM
Comment #110409

The reasons for increasing heathcare costs are multiple.

1) As the baby boomers age and require additional healthcare services it is putting a strain on our system. It will only get worse as this group ages.

2) Miracle drugs. R&D costs of these drugs are extremly high. In order to pay for this R&D and still make a profit, drug companies must sell as much of that drug as possible. To do that they use strong marketing techniques. This has resulted in physicians prescribing drugs to patients who really don’t need them. While this helps the drug companies to continue important drug R&D, it also shifts much of the costs to healthcare payor system.

3) The poor who do not have the ability to pay for healthcare do not go without. While individual doctors are free to accept or deny care to a patient based on their ability to pay, Emergency Rooms are not. They must see every patient that comes through the door. Whether they are there because they are having a heart attack or because they stubbed their toe or because they want a pregnancy test, the ER must see them regardless of whether they are having an actual emergency. That means that people who cannot get healthcare elsewhere have placed a huge strain on hospital systems.

4) Government regulation. The paperwork involved in the medical field is astounding. Healthcare providers now spend more time on paperwork, than they do on providing healthcare.

5) Effects of malpractice. The fear of malpractice suits have caused doctors and health facilities to become overly cautious. Doctors order test that are not needed to cover their butts. The costs of medical malpractice insurance are passed onto the consumer through increased healthcare costs.

  • SINGLE PAYER WITH COMPETITION IN THE INSURANCE MARKET. I do not think that government should become involved in running healthcare. What I think should happen is that all the current sources of paying heathcare premiums should be combined into one fund. Employer funded health insurance plans are part of your compensation package. It is not an unfair burden place on employers. Consider that employers can require cost sharing of insurance premiums. The ones that do it is usually nominal. That is because health insurance is part of your compensation. If the cost of healthcare were shifted to the taxpayers or individual exclusively, does anyone really believe that employers would give substantial raised to their employees?

    A fund should be established with souces of income coming from employers, medicare, and medicaid, including each states current medicaid costs. Each American could select the health plan of their choice, each plan would be required to offer a basic set of benifits, but could includeg coverages for other services and different levels of coverages that may require higher co payments, with premiums being payed to insurance carriers through this fund. Competition would increase in the market, insurance carriers that offered the highest level of coverage at the lowest out of pocket costs would capture most of the market.

  • VOUCHER SYSTEM- If a government run system became the payor of premiums for a vast array of insurance products there would be no need for vouchers. Competition would increase in the market because many insurance carriers would be competing to capture as many of those premium dollars as possible.
  • MEDICAL COURT- Seems like a good idea to me.

This is my opinion, anyway.

Posted by: JayJay Snowman at January 5, 2006 1:24 PM
Comment #110413

The reasons for increasing heathcare costs are multiple.

1) As the baby boomers age and require additional healthcare services it is putting a strain on our system. It will only get worse as this group ages.

2) Miracle drugs. R&D costs of these drugs are extremly high. In order to pay for this R&D and still make a profit, drug companies must sell as much of that drug as possible. To do that they use strong marketing techniques. This has resulted in physicians prescribing drugs to patients who really don’t need them. While this helps the drug companies to continue important drug R&D, it also shifts much of the costs to healthcare payor system.

3) The poor who do not have the ability to pay for healthcare do not go without. While individual doctors are free to accept or deny care to a patient based on their ability to pay, Emergency Rooms are not. They must see every patient that comes through the door. Whether they are there because they are having a heart attack or because they stubbed their toe or because they want a pregnancy test, the ER must see them regardless of whether they are having an actual emergency. That means that people who cannot get healthcare elsewhere have placed a huge strain on hospital systems.

4) Government regulation. The paperwork involved in the medical field is astounding. Healthcare providers now spend more time on paperwork, than they do on providing healthcare.

5) Effects of malpractice. The fear of malpractice suits have caused doctors and health facilities to become overly cautious. Doctors order test that are not needed to cover their butts. The costs of medical malpractice insurance are passed onto the consumer through increased healthcare costs.

  • SINGLE PAYER WITH COMPETITION IN THE INSURANCE MARKET. I do not think that government should become involved in running healthcare. What I think should happen is that all the current sources of paying heathcare premiums should be combined into one fund. Employer funded health insurance plans are part of your compensation package. It is not an unfair burden place on employers. Consider that employers can require cost sharing of insurance premiums. The ones that do it is usually nominal. That is because health insurance is part of your compensation. If the cost of healthcare were shifted to the taxpayers or individual exclusively, does anyone really believe that employers would give substantial raised to their employees?

    A fund should be established with souces of income coming from employers, medicare, and medicaid, including each states current medicaid costs. Each American could select the health plan of their choice, each plan would be required to offer a basic set of benifits, but could includeg coverages for other services and different levels of coverages that may require higher co payments, with premiums being payed to insurance carriers through this fund. Competition would increase in the market, insurance carriers that offered the highest level of coverage at the lowest out of pocket costs would capture most of the market.

  • VOUCHER SYSTEM- If a government run system became the payor of premiums for a vast array of insurance products there would be no need for vouchers. Competition would increase in the market because many insurance carriers would be competing to capture as many of those premium dollars as possible.
  • MEDICAL COURT- Seems like a good idea to me.

This is my opinion, anyway.

Posted by: JayJay Snowman at January 5, 2006 1:32 PM
Comment #110415

“How would any of you suggest helping out with the above senario? Any part of it… From the insurance deductibles, the high cost of treatment, the poor using the ER as a family doctor, and the fear of being dropped”

Deductibles: I have a personal health account that I use for this. Instead of wasting my money ALL the time, I add to these accounts.
Treatment: I shopped around alot. Some plans are better than others. Find the one that best suits you. Offering to pay the doctor cash also works sometimes and is cheaper.
ER abuse: One reason why costs are so high. The ER’s need to start turning away “family doctor” types of visits.
Not being able to pay is one thing.
Not being able to pay but still having money to smoke, drink, eat out all the time, have internet etc… is another.
The former deserves a break. I prefer charitable organizations.
The latter deserves nothing.

Posted by: kctim at January 5, 2006 1:41 PM
Comment #110416

“How would any of you suggest helping out with the above senario? Any part of it… From the insurance deductibles, the high cost of treatment, the poor using the ER as a family doctor, and the fear of being dropped”

Deductibles: I have a personal health account that I use for this. Instead of wasting my money ALL the time, I add to these accounts.
Treatment: I shopped around alot. Some plans are better than others. Find the one that best suits you. Offering to pay the doctor cash also works sometimes and is cheaper.
ER abuse: One reason why costs are so high. The ER’s need to start turning away “family doctor” types of visits.
Not being able to pay is one thing.
Not being able to pay but still having money to smoke, drink, eat out all the time, have internet etc… is another.
The former deserves a break. I prefer charitable organizations.
The latter deserves nothing.

Posted by: kctim at January 5, 2006 1:42 PM
Comment #110421

kctim:

I prefer charitable organizations.

Which charitable organizations do you support that provide health care assistance? Just curious.

Posted by: womanmarine at January 5, 2006 2:01 PM
Comment #110435

American Pundit,

The Republicans, of course. Don’t you remember Terry Schiavo? Oh, wait. Republicans wanted to spend millions of dollars to keep a brain-dead woman alive a few years longer.

As the cost of healthcare rises, we’re going to have more difficult dilemmas than the Terry Schiavo case, I can guarantee you. Whether the individual, employer, or government pays the bill, the bill is getting larger — per person — and will continue to do so. Eventually we’re going to have to make some REALLY tough decisions.

Rob, I’m confused. Do you guys want a culture of life, or not?

I’m confused, too, AP. Which “you guys” are you talking about? Last I checked, I’m just one person.

Or are you assuming that I’m a Republican just because I don’t agree that the world will be peaches and roses if we just let the government handle it all?

For the record, I’m in favor of a universal healthcare system. I just want a sane one that we can actually afford.

Why? The heart is donated, and the price of the support machinery is amortized over its lifetime. It should be pretty cheap.

What about the labor? Hearts aren’t something you can install from a do-it-yourself kit, you know? They require someone with extensive (and EXPENSIVE) medical training. Somebody has to pay for that. 100 years ago, that wasn’t an expense we had to worry about. Expanded possibilities come with expanded pricetags.

Let’s look at a few more examples. HIV is an illness that we currently can’t cure, but it can be treated. The drugs to treat it are quite expensive, but there are few enough cases (proportionally speaking) that it doesn’t put too much of a burden on the system.

But what if HIV mutated into an airborne form, and infected millions of people in this country? Could insurance companies, Medicare, or a proposed Universal Healthcare System handle the weight of that many patients needing this treatment? Not without dramatically increasing the cost to the user through higher premiums, increased taxes, etc.

Now, what if someone develops a similarly expensive treatment for the common cold, or for obesity, or baldness, or PMS, or some other malady that is extremely common among the populace? If insurance had to cover a $1000+ bill every time you got the sniffles, the whole system would go broke. But if it doesn’t, then we’d have a system where rich people never suffered from colds, while the rest of us go broke supporting the wealthy tissue magnates. Where’s the middle ground?

As another example, consider my father. After battling heart disease and emphysema for many years, he died a year ago, at age 81, of pancreatic cancer. The cancer was inoperable, but even if it wasn’t, would it have been worth it to try? Emphysema was going to take him in another year or two anyway, if he didn’t have another heart attack first (he had already had four). He had bone spurs in his neck that were threatening to paralyze him. He was in pain almost constantly. Now, I’d love to have one more day here with my father, believe me. But, in his case, cancer treatment would have been a waste of taxpayer dollars. The best solution for him was enough morphine that he could die comfortably.

It’s a scary, scary thought that we might have to make decisions like that someday, but we’re heading in that direction. We come up with new medical options every year, but none of them are free. Human beings are becoming more and more expensive to maintain. Eventually it will be impossible to give everyone the best medical care available.

Posted by: Rob Cottrell at January 5, 2006 3:02 PM
Comment #110437

JayJay,

2) Miracle drugs. R&D costs of these drugs are extremly high. In order to pay for this R&D and still make a profit, drug companies must sell as much of that drug as possible. To do that they use strong marketing techniques. This has resulted in physicians prescribing drugs to patients who really don’t need them. While this helps the drug companies to continue important drug R&D, it also shifts much of the costs to healthcare payor system.

There’s another element to consider as well. Drug costs are MUCH lower in many other countries (Canada, France, etc.) because the government fixes the prices at just above manufacturing costs. This means that the drug companies have to recoup their entire R&D investment in the American market. In other words, Americans are paying for the world’s drug R&D.

Now, I’m not a big fan of goverment price regulations, but without them, we will continue to shoulder the world’s burden on drug costs.

Posted by: Rob Cottrell at January 5, 2006 3:12 PM
Comment #110448

IMO today’s doctors are not as good diagnosticians as doctors were many years back. I can remember going to the doctor, describing my symptoms, having a few tests where the doctor actually touched me and talked to me and received a diagnosis and prescribed medication.

These days, you go to the doctor, he does his thing by taking blood, x-rays, sticking his finger a few places where it doesn’t belong and reccomends an MRI, colonostopy, stress test and so on and takes blood that you find out the results of 3 weeks later. The machines and tests are diagnosing.

Granted, there are more complex diseases now than before but it is ridiculous. Every doctor visit is a complete physical rather than specific to what you went for.

Posted by: steve smith at January 5, 2006 3:54 PM
Comment #110471

Granted, there are more complex diseases now than before but it is ridiculous. Every doctor visit is a complete physical rather than specific to what you went for.

Posted by: steve smith at January 5, 2006 03:54 PM

Of course they’re a complete physical. That way they can charge your insurance company more.

When I was a kid the doctor would come to our house about 15 miles from his office. Check however many of us were sick. Prescribe medicine, and/or give shots. And even had a sucker for each kid, sick or not. He charged about $8 for this.
Today you drive to his office. Mine is 20 miles away. Sit for about 1 hour. The doctor looks at you for about a minute. That’s around $85. And heaven help you if he does any of the other things I mentioned. Of course you only pay about $20 to $30 out of your pocket. To the doctor. The rest the doctor gets from your employer through the insurance company. And your employer gets it from your in the form of lower wages. And don’t get a sucker.
There has to be a better way. I don’t really have the answers to it all. However the answer sure aint national health care.

Posted by: Ron Brown at January 5, 2006 5:30 PM
Comment #110510

Paul; Great job as always! THE ONLY WAY TO GET UNIVERSAL COVERAGE THAT WORKS AND SAVE THE ECONOMY OF THIS COUNTRY IS TO GET THE INSURANCE COMPANIES OUT OF THE SYSTEM! It is not rocket science! I do not like the idea of the Government running our health care system, with its incompetence and corruption, but we already have the bad parts of Government control! The insurance companies and HMOs are making billions from our medical system and will bankrupt the economy, from job loss, if the government does not take the system over! I want a Canadian style system! We could try to fix the few problems that their system has. Yes, the insurance companies and their supporters say “the Canadian system is inferior”, what is worse than millions of americans that do not have health care? What is worse that millions out of work because their employers can not afford the insurance premiums? And yes, taxes will go up, but nowhere near the current cost of health care! Conservatives will hate it, since their friends will not make all those billions! Check out the unemployment rate in Canada! Those are real numbers, not the manipulated numbers that we get to make things look better! Clinton knew that this had to be fixed, the Republicans stopped him, and his system would not have worked! But, we would have known that by now! I am afraid that the “fix” that they try will be much the same as the one they stopped, and it will be years before we can try one that could work!

Posted by: Jim Soric at January 5, 2006 8:53 PM
Comment #110527
Actually AP, Shiavo’s PARENTS were fighting to keep her alive

kctim, if it was only her parents fighting to keep her alive, it never would have made the news. It was the stirring image of our government rushing to the rescue — Sen. Frist diagnosing her and predicting full recovery, Rep. DeLay frantically penning federal laws to keep her on life support, and President Bush speeding back to Washington to sign the laws — that made the news.

IIRC, you thought that kind of government interference in a private family matter was as was bad.

Why [is heart surgery so expensive]? The heart is donated, and the price of the support machinery is amortized over its lifetime. It should be pretty cheap.
What about the labor? Hearts aren’t something you can install from a do-it-yourself kit, you know?

Rob, for $10,000 — including round-trip air fare, hotel accomadations, and a tour of the Taj Mahal — you can get the same quality heart surgery done in India. Why not in America?

It’s a scary, scary thought that we might have to make decisions like that someday, but we’re heading in that direction.

Sure. And I’d prefer that I make the decision, not the Republican “culture of life” wackos in Congress and the Whitehouse.

For the record, I’m in favor of a universal healthcare system. I just want a sane one that we can actually afford.

Yeah, that’s bi-partisan, Rob. Gingrich — whom I respect far more now that he doesn’t have to play the partisan shill — is partnering with Sen. Clinton to promote part of Sen. Kerry’s healthcare plan from the campaign. When they’re on stage together, he uses phrases like, “Senator Clinton is exactly right” and “I think everything she just said I agree with” and “Hillary is so correct in the direction she laid out.”

Posted by: American Pundit at January 5, 2006 10:46 PM
Comment #110577

Paul,

You have developed an interesting plan here. And, I certainly agree that any plan that is going to work should be multi-faceted. One facet that needs to be considered more strongly is alternative medicine.

When I was pregnant with my third child I was having extreme pains (worse than child birth) that seems to come from my back. I went to the doctor. He didn’t do ANY testing, saw me for about 5 minutes, and said it was back-labor pains and would go away after I had the baby. My son was born, and my pain continued, still worse than the actual delivery of my son but mostly by the fact that it was recurrent with no end in sight. I went to the doctor. He STILL didn’t do any testing, only saw me for about 5 minutes, and said I must have strained my back, proscribed pain killers and back excercises and sent me on my way. I went in THREE more times with the same scenario, until finally my mother came with me to the doctor and said something to the effect, “This isn’t normal. This isn’t okay. You’re going to do something!” So, still convinced that I’d injured my back, because ohmigod, I’d had THREE WHOLE KIDS, he sent me down for an x-ray. The x-ray technician watched me for about ten minutes as I struggled to stay still enough for an x-ray while pain was spasming through my body before saying, “You don’t need an x-ray; you need an ultrasound. I’d bet my paycheck you’ve got gallstones.” The ultra-sound proved him right and I was sent to a specialist. The specialist said I had ONLY two options to solve my problem; they could do something sonic, shatter the stones, but the stones would reform and I’d have to do it all over again, or I could have surgery that would remove the gallbladder, effect my digestion for the rest of my life, and require my kids to stay off of me (except the baby) for two to six weeks while the incision healed. After two months of being unable to keep my older children off of me while I was in intense pain, I knew the surgery wouldn’t work well. The sonic thing didn’t sound good either. So, I went home, did my research and asked around. A friend I had in India, after “listening” to my plight on-line was furious, because over there they have a simple, easy and affordable solution. Liquid extract of sarsaparilla root, ten drops per hundred drops of water, taken as needed, disolves the stones, it tastes kind of nasty, but it only costs about $10 a bottle (over here) and a bottle can last quite awhile. No surgery, no being out of commission, no muss, no fuss. The pain’s gone and I got to keep my gallbladder. Now, the real frustrating thing is that since this has happened I’ve asked a nurse practioner I know what she’d have diagnosed with the set of symptoms I had (I didn’t tell her my story first) and she said gallstones on her first try.

So, for the cost of five doctors visits, two bottles of pain killers, an x-ray, an ultrasound and (were I that gullible) surgery, and months of being in less than fit form…I could have seen a nurse-practioner once, gotten a bottle of sarsaparilla and been better in a week.

Changing the way people think about medical care, both patients and doctors, would reduce the costs significantly. To me, any plan that doesn’t include preventative care and alternative medicine is incomplete, because there are easier and cheapier ways to solve most medical problems than relying on ultra-expensive medical advancements after a problem has festered. This is by no means a cure-all, but it would solve one facet of the medical expense problem.

Posted by: Stephanie at January 6, 2006 2:15 AM
Comment #110627

AP,

Rob, for $10,000 — including round-trip air fare, hotel accomadations, and a tour of the Taj Mahal — you can get the same quality heart surgery done in India. Why not in America?

That’s heart surgery. I’m talking about heart transplants. They cost a LOT more than $10,000, even in India. They require a lifetime of anti-rejection medication that probably costs more than $10,000 by itself.

Yes, the operation can be performed cheaper in a cheaper labor market. But the fact remains that, 100 years ago, $10,000 wouldn’t have gotten you that heart surgery ANYWHERE, because the surgery didn’t exist. That’s a $10,000 drain on the system that didn’t exist 100 years ago.

My wife suffers from severe depression. In the past 6 months, she’s been on 5 different medications to try to control it. In the past 10 years, she’s taken over a dozen different medications, with varying success rates. 50 years ago, there weren’t a dozen medications to try. So her meds (and those of people like her) are a drain on the system that didn’t exist 50 years ago. My acid reflux meds are a drain on the system that didn’t exist 50 years ago.

Yes, there are inefficiencies in the system causing costs to rise. Yes, there are frivolous malpractice suits. And yes, there are greedy people in the system skimming profits off of the rest of us. But even without all of that, the cost of healthcare will continue to rise, simply because the amount of healthcare that is available will continue to rise. How can you deny that?

Sure. And I’d prefer that I make the decision, not the Republican “culture of life” wackos in Congress and the Whitehouse.

Then you should probably oppose a universal healthcare system. Because, once you make the government that single payer, Congress and the White House are exactly where these decisions will be made….

Posted by: Rob Cottrell at January 6, 2006 10:59 AM
Comment #110653

Stephanie
My wife is an RN. I had her read your comment. She agrees with the nurse practioner. And said that this treatment is taught in medical school, at least the one she went to, but is down played.
She has offten told me that about 98% of the time that the nurse knows what is wrong with you before the doctor sees you. But they cann’t tell you because the law won’t let them diagnose cases.
I beleive that a few changes in the law to allow RNs do more might help control medical cost. Most of them know as much if not more than the doctors do.

Posted by: Ron Brown at January 6, 2006 12:15 PM
Comment #110672

This entire thread on Healthcare is one of the best yet. Spending time on real, complex issues that affect all of us is better than venting and bashing because of political persuasion.

So far nobody has championed the status quo for long term solutions. And looking at a middle ground between universal, single payor approaches and universal, competitve, (multi)payor approaches makes some sense in the short term.

All proposals probably should and do start with a few fundamental goals that we all subscribe to;

1. ready access
2. high quality outcomes
3. low cost

These simple statements are extremely complex and have far reaching implications in actuality within the world of healthcare delivery today.

One person made the comment that healthcare needs (and the timing and severity of those needs) are not driven by the market…this alone makes many of the private enterprise market-driven solutions ineffective. Healthcare services are not neccessarily commodities subject to predictable market forces.

Healthcare delivery services are something that everyone needs and uses, and will continue to use (more so when the people get older). And today about 45 million americans have no protection that allows them ready access, at affordable personal cost to these delivery services. This number continues to grow and will continue to drive up the personal costs for everyone else (those of us that have coverage)through ever larger premiums and deductables.

Solutions that call for mandating universal coverage and requiring individuals to pay for it ignore the real costs of healthcare. Most of us have never had to deal with these realities because of our insurance plans though we are increasingly experiencing a great deal of administrative pain in getting our bills paid. And as others point out, catastrophic illnesses, severe chronic problems, and other factors can and will quickly bankrupt even those of us with middle class incomes.

Yes government solutions often fail us at the time of our greatest need (FEMA and New Orleans for example), but one program that has been successful especialy when compared to private insurance solutions has been Medicare. Extending Medicare to cover all americans would be a bold step but measured against many of the other “band-aid” solutions and half-steps proposed in shoring up a failing private system…can we afford not to take bold action.

Ultimately, if people must choose between funding their healthcare accounts or buying HDTV sets or a new SUV, our economy will surely feel the impact in more ways than one…a day of reckoning is coming.

Posted by: macd at January 6, 2006 1:04 PM
Comment #110682

As a registered nurse, I have watched patients who could not get the care they need because insurance is absent, insufficient, or refuses to pay for needed care. Many plans don’t cover prescription drugs, which can easily bankrupt an individual. The truth is, in this country, only those with lots of money and excellent health care plans are entitled to health care. Medicaid does not guarantee access to any care. In Pinellas County (St. Petersburg, FL), the most densely populated county in Florida, there is not even one orthopedist who accepts Medicaid, and most don’t take Medicare. If home infusion is needed, Florida covers the medication and home health visits, but not any of the supplies—putting it out of reach for virtually everyone on medicaid. The supplies for infusion ain’t cheap. Instead, they hospitalize those needing only infusion, and then won’t cover other things because the system doesn’t have enough money.

Medical bills are overwhelmingly the largest reason >75%—for personal bankruptcies in this country. And, the great majority of those people had some insurance. They couldn’t handle what insurance wouldn’t pay. The right responded by making bankruptcy far more difficult.

There is no reason to believe the conservatives have a shred of human decency in this area. If people could afford to pay for medical care, they would. Malpractice represents less than 5% of all medical costs (and that includes the malpractice insurance), so the right is just throwing up smoke screens. Maybe we should return to snake oil and the hallelujah brothers and sisters faith healers! ‘Course, the religious right would be thrilled with that!

Posted by: Penny Duff at January 6, 2006 2:01 PM
Comment #110685

Stephanie,
I had a similar problem with my gall bladder. Only it took 2&1/2 years,heaven only knows how many trips to my family doctor, and one ambulance ride, and finally a cardiologist, via his wonderful nurse (and I mean it) to figure it out. My very well educated (sarcasm)family doctor told me I was too young (38)to have gall bladder problems, but obliviously not to young to suspect heart problems. I had no choice regarding surgery because the entire region was totally infected.

Interestingly enough my twins had to have theirs’ removed at the age of 22. They were also diagnosed fortunately by a very astute nurse, and a doctor who actually listened to her.

Kctim,
I can’t decide if you are addressing my scenario or not.
Since my accident, I have already spent out of pocket $500 for a doctor, and $22 for medication. This doesn’t include over $1500 for the hospital visit, (not including the X-Rays) Now I am supposed to have a MRI done on Monday.

And I am one of the fortunate few who have health insurance in my area. Eventually they’ll pay - in the meantime I spend.

I live in the rather deep South where there are few businesses big enough to offer health benefits, and personal insurance runs nearly $400 a month, for each family member. Unless one is extremely wealthy they don’t make enough for a personal health saving plan.

Most also don’t have enough for a $500 or a $1000 deductible straight our of their pockets.

And most don’t waste their money as you implied on booze, smoking, eating out, nice clothes, fancy cars.

Unfortunately many also can’t afford a family doctor, so they do use the the ER. There are unfortunately those who do abuse the medical system. I waited in the ER almost 5 hours waiting to be seen.

In many cases there are also not enough doctors or hospitals. In our area we drive nearly 40 miles to see the only doctor in over a 70 mile radius. Our nearest hospital is almost 60 miles away.

And that DOES NOT include major illnessess, catastrophic distasters, etc.

In case anyone thinks I should move, maybe I should, but what about all the other people here?
Besides I rather like the fact that I know my neighbors we have a very small crime rate, and actually have room to breathe.



Posted by: Linda H. at January 6, 2006 2:19 PM
Comment #110736

While I’m against National Health Care, I do admitt that the current system is broke.
Health care cost keeps going up.
Health insurance is almost unaffordable.
As more doctors specialize, it gets harder to find a general practioner for the not so specialized ailments.
I don’t claim to know all the answers to these problems. I don’t even know 1/4 of them.
But one thing is for sure. Our current crop of politicians don’t give a rats a… about them. What we need is to put people in office that will work on these problems.
And I’m not talking about replacing the Republicans with Democrats either. Cause I’ve news for yaall. They give less of a rats a… too.

Posted by: Ron Brown at January 6, 2006 5:02 PM
Comment #110762

Ron,

Are you saying your wife knew to use sarsaparilla? Because nobody (but the guy in India) I talked to knew that. Not even the health food store where I got it.

Linda,

I’m sorry to hear about your experience. DEFINITELY worse than mine. I was 23, so age has very little to do with it, I guess.

As for the other problem, I wouldn’t advise moving, but perhaps clamoring for a clinic with a sliding-fee scale that is supported by grants would be beneficial. That’s how I ended up getting dental care (not by clamoring, but by a clinic with a sliding-fee scale opening up in a needed location) and the service I receive there is actually better than any dentist I’ve ever been to, because he’s there to serve not to make money.

Posted by: Stephanie at January 6, 2006 5:51 PM
Comment #110770

what a great thread…

THIS is the issue that should grab the attention of every single voter in America and THIS is the issue that should determine who gets into office at the federal level and who doesn’t.

I know that medicare is wildly more efficient than any of the insurance cos but am hesitant to give them the keys to my access to healthcare. Our elected leaders make a mess out of everything else, what makes people believe they’ll do a good job with a national health care system? I’d love to see it happen and go well, as in Canada, but am too much of a pessimist (or have learned my lesson from experience, perhaps).

Stephanie’s experience should be a wake-up call for the rest of us who have been relatively healthy. This system doesn’t encourage true doctoral participation and expertise, nor does it allow for anything resembling natural, basic, inexpensive and logical treatments which should in fact be the first line of response to any malady. What a sham!

Something I’ve thought about many times has been the connection between the environment, the costs of healthcare, and the rise in disease. I know some of you are not interested in hearing how it all is related, but it sure is easy to get a cigarette and alcohol tax passed when you mention what a drain those industries are on the national state of health. Now what about creating a causal connection between corporate polluters and serious fines that can be funnelled directly back into healthcare money or hospital ERs that are utilized mainly by the uninsured poor? Would efforts such as these ease the financial burden on small businesses or just be eaten up by big pharma? Or the doctors??? Sure, they are driving Lexuses and live in mansions, but from what I have read, it is increasingly difficult for doctors to get paid by the insurance companies! What a crock - they hike their rates at breakneck pace, and then refuse to pay because their experts didn’t think you really needed the treatment your doctor performed.

I’m not particularly worried about tort reform but I sure don’t agree with the idea that we pay more for prescriptions because other countries with a higher percentage of insured citizens have enacted price caps…of course, maybe that’s the price we have to pay by thumbing our noses at Kyoto and such. It all evens out in the end, doesn’t it?

Posted by: macsonix at January 6, 2006 6:11 PM
Comment #110773

Environmental pollutants certainly play a factor in health. Perhaps that is another solution to add to the mix.

Posted by: Stephanie at January 6, 2006 6:18 PM
Comment #110787


Stephanie

Are you saying your wife knew to use sarsaparilla? Because nobody (but the guy in India) I talked to knew that. Not even the health food store where I got it.

She knew! I asked her more about it and she said that there are a lot of remidies that are discussed in Medical School that arenot used in the actual practice of medicine. Claims she been using them on me all along. Sacry.
The pharmaceutical companies don’t want doctors to recomend these remidies. And has lobbied to get alot of them out lawed. Go figure.


If you can get sasafras roots, boil them in water for sasafras tea. Helps keep you from getting colds. Roots can be reused for a while so you don’t have to buy then very often.

Posted by: Ron Brown at January 6, 2006 7:31 PM
Comment #110840

I’ve never tasted sasafras roots. I may just prefer the cold.

Posted by: Stephanie at January 7, 2006 12:38 AM
Comment #110931

Stephanie
Do you like Root Beer?

Posted by: Ron Brown at January 7, 2006 8:33 AM
Comment #111046

Highly processed, strongly sugared root beer is okay, but real root beer, no.

My point was a cold is merely an inconvenience. Whereas gallstones were painfully debilitating. Thus one isn’t worth the expense and taste of nasty medicine, and the other is.

It’s a matter of priorities. ;-)

Posted by: Stephanie at January 7, 2006 6:19 PM
Comment #111361

Womanmarine
“Which charitable organizations do you support that provide health care assistance? Just curious”

Many “evil” churches that read about on here offer some type of financial support to the needy.
If those who feel it is their “responsibility” to take care of everybody would actually do it instead of just talking about it, they could create orgs that help.
But why should anyone do any of this, the govt will do it for them.

Linda
Yes, I was addressing what you wrote.
Many can’t afford the deduct? Then they aren’t saving enough.
You say most dont waste their money. From experience, I say at least half do.
I agree, SOME people really do need help and I have no problem with that, to an extent.
But if somebody is paying for cigs, internet, CDs, booze or buying the latest and greatest, then they have no valid reason to be complaining about lack of anything.

Posted by: kctim at January 9, 2006 11:33 AM
Comment #112375

Paul:
I like your approach to this universal health care debacle. I am not for the idea because it empowers special groups on high and denies others. But alas, I believe it is inevitable.

Maybe I am being too simplistic but let me propose another idea and that is allow the competing of alternative medicine: homeopathy, naturopathy, colonic irrigation, EDTA chelation therapy, accupunture, just to name a few. Relax the state medical boards, the FDA, and start teaching the value of such therapies in the medical schools throughout the nation. Really do the tests. Let an independent head the studies, such as a “Lee Iococa”.

That should ultimately drive down the costs that should ease the already over-burdened taxpayers and employers alike. The public might feel that they are given a CHOICE rather than feel they are SCREWED!

Posted by: Bob at January 11, 2006 11:13 PM
Comment #204325

What to do if family has suffered from a medical mistake? WBR LeoP

Posted by: Health System at January 21, 2007 6:53 PM
Comment #214324

I learned something- I did not know toddlers could even be diagnosed with mental illnesses yet/that young. WBR LeoP

Posted by: Medic at March 29, 2007 3:48 PM
Comment #214385

This is about the medical establishment trying to fix everything with a pill. Psychiatrists are no longer trained to do therapy. Instead they charge $150 for a 15 minute appointment that is focused on medication management. WBR LeoP

Posted by: Matt at March 30, 2007 6:24 AM
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