Sunday, March 6, 2011
Health Care In America Can be Dangerous to Your Health...Does America Want Health Care...or Health Insurance?
There has been much discussion about America's health care system...or the lack thereof. Whether you like the current system or not...few will argue that the system is broke and dysfunctional. Those who have health insurance are paying through the nose for health care. Those that don't have insurance are either paying through the nose for service they receive...or are a strain/drain on hospitals and the American tax payer who are footing the bill when people without "health" insurance become ill and need care.
So let us have a real and frank discussion about health care in America...whether by insurance exchanges, public option, or by other means...and it's impact on workers and the American economy. This is how I see it...you may disagree....
First and foremost...most foreign countries have an advantage over America for at least 2 reasons. 1st, their business' are not strangled by the cost of healthcare for their workers. THIS in itself make their labor cheaper than that in the US...and 2nd....Most civilized foreign counties have a health care system that is paid for either by taxes...or by a combination of taxes and contributions by citizens. Some call this "socialized medicine"...I call it smart...or more to the point SANITY!
Now let's take a REAL look at so called health care in America....The public option or the proposed so called insurance exchanges are a smoke screen. Why is it a smoke screen? Because the the central issue has been obscured by rhetoric both from the left and right...and facts are being obfuscated by for profit health care providers. The question remains....are we talking about health care reform...or health insurance reform? I dont' believe anyone will argue the fact that we as a country are unhealthy...obesity is rampant, cancer, diabetes, smoking, alcoholism...and a plethora of other illnesses. Some are bad/deadly habits that can be broken...some are not. So the issue now becomes how do we pay for health maintenance or curing peoples illness.
Health insurance you say? Insurance is nothing more than a gamble. You place a monthly "bet" (your monthly insurance premium) at the casino (insurance company)...The insurance company is betting that you will pay them more money in premiums than they will have to spend on you for health care...and as you and everyone SHOULD know...when you gamble at a casino...the odds are stacked against you. Casinos know the odds are with them and the chances of them having to pay out are minimized. How do they do that? It's done in at least 2 ways....by policy (what the will and will not cover) and by health "maintenance" organizations (HMO).
How can I say the game is "rigged" or the odds are in favor of the casinos (insurance companies)? It's pretty obvious that casinos make millions if not billions of dollars. Millions of people "play" the game at casinos...but few actually come out winners. The odds are ALWAYS with the house. So...If on principle you agree with my position that on the whole, we as a nation are pretty unhealthy...AND that insurance is a gamble....neither the casinos nor health insurance companies can afford to pay out every time...they wouldn't be in business otherwise.
Policy is set by insurance companies relative to which illness' are covered and which are not. Physicians have a duty to either treat or cure you when you're sick...that's why you go to a doctor in the first place. But physicians (the dealers at a casino) who are in an insurance network are constrained by policies set by the casino (insurance company). They will only administer that care which is covered by policy. Any care outside of that policy will either (a) not be administered...(b) not be reimbursed....or (c) will require the insured to pay more money.
HMOs are typically very tightly constrained health care providers. Their primary concern (contrary to popular belief and their TV ads) is NOT providing health care...but rather to keep the costs to a minimum. Therein is the crux of the problem. Health care administered under the constraints of a company's bottom line. The physician's "duty" now becomes doing what the insurance company dictates in policy...and NOT what is in the best interests of the patients health.
Lets now talk about this wonderful idea called the public option. What is it really? Basically, it is the "choice" of what insurance company and insurance plan you will be covered by. So let's say for the sake of this discussion there are 10 insurance companies in this "pool" to choose from. Lets also assume they are mature companies...having been in business for a while. I don't know about you, but my monthly health insurance premiums (when I actually HAD insurance) were ALWAYS sky high, and if you do any comparison "shopping", you will find that yes, in some cases the prices do vary..but not that much. They are all in the same "sky high" ball park or vary only because the "coverage" is different. Its really is a shell game.
So if we find that the insurance premiums from the different companies in the pool are relatively the same...mostly unaffordable, especially in an economy where people are losing their jobs...and can barely afford to pay what is required to survive...food, shelter, etc...where/what is the option? Does it now become a choice of either feeding your family...or paying an insurance premium? THERE ARE NO OPTIONS IF ALL THE OPTIONS ARE BAD ONES!
SINGLE PAYER IS THE ONLY ANSWER! Some will argue it doesn't work. I say, look at 3/4 of all the civilized nations. They have some sort of single payer health care program, the cost of which is paid for in higher taxes paid by the people or corporations. The problem (if you can call it that) is that EVERYONE must contribute!...and as we know...everyone is or SHOULD be paying taxes. I'd be happy as a clam if I had to pay $50 or even $100 more a month in taxes to cover health care...as opposed to what the insurance companies wanted for a cobra premium...$825/month!
You might say...the doctors won't go for it...uhh...ok...where will they go? If there is only ONE health care system...they HAVE NO PLACE ELSE TO GO...Does anyone think they will somehow quit and become a plumber? That ain't happening...and they sure as hell won't be leaving the country in droves to try their hand in some other country...No...they will remain in America.
The bottom line?...Insurance companies do have a place in society...but IT'S NOT IN HEALTH CARE! Let them insure cars, trucks, houses, and boats. I don't want the quality of the health care I receive predicated on some insurance company's or HMO's bottom line. I want the decision to what health care treatment I receive to be between myself and my doctor!
Just a thought...