Letters to the Editor

Health care right

January 27, 2008

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To the editor:

Health care is a human right. A system that allows the rich to purchase the best health care in the world while the poor die of malnutrition and preventable diseases by the thousands is intolerably corrupt and, ultimately, unsustainable.

Devin Walton,

Lawrence

Comments

Richard Heckler 7 years, 4 months ago

While National Health Insurance is not free that is the way our nation should go. The lions share of the population would make a contribution which is why it makes sense. It also would prevent patients showing up in the emergency room which is a most expensive treatment.

Is national health insurance "socialized medicine"? No. Socialized medicine is a system in which doctors and hospitals work for the government and draw salaries from the government. Doctors in the Veterans Administration and the Armed Services are paid this way. Examples also exist in Great Britain and Spain. But in most European countries, Canada, Australia and Japan they have socialized financing, or socialized health insurance, not socialized medicine. The government pays for care that is delivered in the private (mostly not-for-profit) sector. This is similar to how Medicare works in this country. Doctors are in private practice and are paid on a fee-for-service basis from government funds. The government does not own or manage their medical practices or hospitals.

The term socialized medicine is often used to conjure images of government bureaucratic interference in medical care. That does not describe what happens in countries with national health insurance. It does describe the interference by insurance company bureaucrats in our health system.

Currently, about 60% of our health care system is financed by public money: federal and state taxes, property taxes and tax subsidies. These funds pay for Medicare, Medicaid, the VA, coverage for public employees (including teachers), elected officials, military personnel, etc. There are also hefty tax subsidies to employers to help pay for their employees' health insurance. About 20% of heath care is financed by all of us individually through out-of-pocket payments, such as co-pays, deductibles, the uninsured paying directly for care, people paying privately for premiums, etc. Private employers only pay 20% of health care costs. In all, it is a very "regressive" way to finance health care, in that the poor pay a much higher percentage of their income for health care than higher income individuals do.

Another consideration is that everyone would have the same comprehensive health coverage, including all medical, hospital, eye care, dental care, long-term care, and mental health services. Currently, many people and businesses are paying huge premiums for insurance that is almost worthless if they were to have a serious illness.

seriouscat 7 years, 4 months ago

Merrill's posts always contain a lot of good information and sensible opinions. Thanks Merrill!

A couple points I would like to add to Merrill's last paragraph: 20 percent of the money spent on the current system goes to the administrative offices at insurance companies who are in charge of denying people coverage. Administrators are given promotions and praise for denying people coverage, even on life saving procedures! Furthermore, even people with very good multiple types of coverage (my parents fit this category) have to deal with a ridiculous amount of paperwork and red-tape in order to receive the coverage they've already paid for! How much time did American's spend last year filling out paperwork and making phone calls dealing with this debacle. Getting the coverage you paid for and have a right to receive is becoming akin to navigating the million word US tax code. WASTE! This is a fact, not just my opinion. I know I don't want to support that kind of culture.

Employer-financed health insurance needs to become a thing of the past. Too many people are strapped to jobs they hate because they are afraid of losing coverage for various reasons. Usually it's a child with a chronic illness. This is bad for productivity and bad for the American economy. I really hope to see some politico's acknowledge this sometime in the near future. So far no dice not even with the Dems who seem intent on merely subsidizing the pathetically inefficient insurance industry even more heavily.

This isn't about 'socialism vs capitalism' so PLEASE let's get away from that nonsense and demand a sensible plan from whoever ends up running the next executive administration. America can do better than this!

Mkh 7 years, 4 months ago

Would either one of you or anyone else care to explain how overall health care costs won't drastically inflate under "universal heath care"?

Also, would any like to actually tell the truth about Medicare? Let's please stop lying to everyone about how Medicare will "be saved" or "expanded" to cover more. It simply isn't there people, no more greenbacks in the bank boys! It's gone!

It doesn't matter how much you want believe the Dem candidates' utopian fantasy of mandatory "universal" heath care...the government is broke.

Just ask David Walker the head of the GAO www.gao.gov/cghome/nabe3252004.pdf

And taxing the p#ss out of the American people to line the pockets of corporate special intrests in Not a "human right".

DrColes 7 years, 4 months ago

The government caused the problem with health care in America by over socializing (with mandates) medicine to the extent it is not completive, and we want to exacerbate the problem? Kids have health care. The needy already have health care. The U.S. is not a socialist state ( see http://tinyurl.com/2znnvl ). No one is entitled to be given a house, car, food or health care, etc. If we want these things, we have to earn them. The government does not earn money. Perhaps some of us should take a civics class and learn about America. We all have to labor for what we want. For those who need help there are the charities and state programs. We need to fix the health care issue but we cannot fix it unless we know how it is broken. For the answer, please see http://www.InteliOrg.com/

kansas778 7 years, 4 months ago

Merrill I'm still surprised by your naivete. Granting the government a monopoly on health care insurance would be socialized medicine. Do you really think hospitals and doctors could freely negotiate with a government monopoly? No. When the government is footing the bill, and a huge bill it would be, they will dictate the terms. Don't be so foolish.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 7 years, 4 months ago

Why would giving money to poor working people to buy insurance be opposed by insurance companies. Wouldn't it increase their business? When I was growing up my family didn't really need health care. You could mostly afforded a doctor's visit, and a visit to the hospital would just mean a 10 dollar a month payment for a couple of years. Why have health care costs risen so much. It's because there is already a monopoly? The private sector isn't working. Why would letting the government take over make it any worse. Oh yeah, those of you with stock in the the private hospitals and the drug companies would lose out. Profit is everything, people's health is secondary.

ps People who don't work can get health care. It's the working poor who can't get it. I'm glad you are so well off, but why not look at how real people have to live.

camper 7 years, 4 months ago

Is it possible that the government can create an insurance that can pool together the uninsured, the self employed, and small to medium businesses? The vast number of people who fit this category just might be large enough to create an affordable health care option for many.

Maybe even a government sponsored "catastrophic" plan can also be made available for serious injury or illness. This is probably the major concern for those who do not have coverage.

moveforward 7 years, 4 months ago

"Health care is a human right"

Not sure who decides that. But of all the silly things that the government subsidizes healthcare should certainly be amongst education and scientific research. Why do we subsidize things like the dairy and sugar industries? Oh that's right... pork barrel politics.

Linda Endicott 7 years, 4 months ago

Well, Levi, using your own definition, perhaps we can at least say that health care SHOULD be a right...

However, I have a little problem with your definition...because even in this country, land of the free, you have NO rights that weren't given to you by someone else...namely, the founding fathers...if they hadn't spelled it out so nicely, but not so neatly (if they had, no one would ever have to argue about guns) in the Bill of Rights and the Constitution, you'd have no way of knowing exactly what your "rights" are, would you?

As for what you seem to believe truly are inalienable rights, that cannot be denied by other people...well, dear, in the decades and centuries that this country has existed, many, many people have been denied things by others that most of us would consider "rights"...

I personally have a problem with doctors, hospitals, drug companies, etc., making such obscene profits off of people's suffering...

Doctors and hospitals can and do turn away people for health care if they don't have the money...and when some of those people die later because of being denied, do any of them lose any sleep over it?

I doubt it...

I think it's only fair that all U.S. citizens should get the same level of health care provided that members of Congress get...after all, your tax money is paying for them, isn't it? Why aren't you complaining about that?

llama726 7 years, 4 months ago

"you know, the ones who are each already supporting more than 30 other people."

And being buoyed to the top by their labor and their spending on consumer products and services. Though the well-written comment describes how this would not be socialist medicine, you guys just want to gripe about it and say it isn't a human right.

You compare cancer treatment a privilege, like driving a car.

I pay thousands of dollars a year for Iraq. I'd rather have half of that go to educating kids in this country and making sure everyone in the country isn't at risk of having their lives overturned by a major illness and an unscrupulous insurance company. The private sector, and private business, is great when it affords good choices. There are few of these to be found in the realm of medical insurance, and medical treatment is a necessity to most people's lives at some point. Don't pull this "people in 1600 didn't have it" or "people in x third world country" etc.... We aren't living in Rwanda and this is 2008. We have the resources to take care of the things that matter efficiently and effectively. We just all want to defend the CEO who is bogged down in so many taxes (as his comparative salary rose hundreds of times faster than his underlings). Maybe we should evaluate how our government spends money for ALL programs- including defense and Iraq expenditures- rather than whining about domestic costs. For every $50 you pay for Iraq, you pay about $1.25 for schools.

kansas778 7 years, 4 months ago

americorps (Anonymous) says:

You deserve that.


Really? So I guess you deserve to have your money forced from you by the government and given to me, after all, I'm just a penniless student. How's $5000 a year sound to you?

LeviCircle 7 years, 4 months ago

gl0ck0wnr is correct. The basis of the original letter - "Health care is a human right" - is inaccurate. It has nothing to do with the debate between private and government health care systems, or of anyone's child dying. It is not a "right" for the same reason a turtle is not a car: It doesn't match the definition.

A right is something that an individual has on their own, that cannot be denied by other people. Of course, that has been altered somewhat (i.e. you can't yell fire in a theater UNLESS there IS a fire), but the general principle is that a right is an individual thing: You can speak freely (I don't HAVE to listen); You can travel freely (I don't have to follow); You can worship (or not) whatever deity you wish (I don't have to do the same); You can publish any newspaper/book you want (I don't have to read it).

A "right" to health care, however, requires that you take something of someone else's: Their medical knowledge, their time, and their medical products. Now you're in COMPLETELY different territory. Once you grant a "right" that requires others to sacrifice their knowledge/goods/services FOR you, you're stealing by force of government. Paint whatever pretty picture on that canvas as you like, but it is still stealing.

Whether government/private health care systems are better POLICIES, that's another debate. Whether health care is a "human right" is no debate - it doesn't match the definition.

kansas778 7 years, 4 months ago

crazyks--wrong. The founding fathers believed everyone had inalienable natural rights. These rights aren't "given" to us, they belong to us by the very fact that we exist. We don't need the constitution to know what our rights our, we all implicitly know them through reasoning. In the founding document of our country, the declaration of independence, there is the line "We hold these truths to be self-evident." They are self-evident, they are obvious, everyone knows in his own mind what his natural rights are: life, liberty, property.

It is clear from your post that what you really hate is capitalism. Sorry, but capitalism works; government interference always makes things worse, and health care is no exception.

busymom 7 years, 4 months ago

Why shouldn't the rich pay more in taxes, they earn more per year. Earning more=paying more in taxes.

My guess is that those of you vowing it's not anyone's job to help the poor but the poor themselves is that you believe in letting only the top 10% survive evolutionary. And just let the rest die out. And a lot of those families that do not pay taxes do work, just don't earn enough to pay taxes on. Why? Because they do not have a college degree that allows them to find a job to earn much more than minimum wage.

While I'm on that subject, what about immigrants, do they pay taxes? Illegal or not, my guess is probably not.

My hope for you is that you never become poor, never have circumstances happen that put you in that position. No one knows how the other shoe feels until they have worn it and walked in it.

seriouscat 7 years, 4 months ago

KS 778 "government interference always makes things worse, and health care is no exception."

Yay capitalism!!!!

see... it's people thinking in these types of absolutes that is the problem. Are you an Anarchist KS778? I can give plenty of examples where government interference has actually made things better, but I'm not here to argue ideological purity.

Ideology is great and all...but it's not REALITY. The fact is that working people who have PAID for their coverage are not being served because the way the system is set up is 'less is more' (more profit less care).

An administrator for the health insurance industry who started off as a doctor testified on the verge of tears before Congress that she had received a promotion for denying a man life-saving treatment; a man who was COVERED.

Duplicate paperwork creates WASTE. Corporate takeovers forcing people to spend hours on the phone trying to find out where they can get treated is WASTE. People waiting until they are miserably sick and most likely to pass their illness on to the rest of us and/or lose the most work go to the ER for treatment that would've cost a fraction if addressed earlier creates WASTE. Hospitals buying million dollar machines that no one uses because the majority of plans refuse to cover it is WASTE.

I don't believe that government completely taking over health care is the answer especially in the USA...I just wish people would step back from their libertarian/anti-commie anti-socialist ideologies for a second and recognize that this broken system is so broken that even the people who PAY aren't being served and no one is getting a good deal here. No one.

As long as the American public clings to these myopic ideological visions of 'socialism bad, capitalism good' the insurance carriers and their stockholders will continue to laugh all the way to the bank.

KS 7 years, 4 months ago

Nobody has addressed part of the real reason as to why health care costs so much. Every doctor, nurse, hopsital, etc. has to pay exhorbitant prices for malpractice insurance because there is always some snake in the grass ready to sue them at the drop of a hat. Under a universal government run and paid for system, are we going to eliminate the right to sue? I somewhat doubt it. Who will pay for the damages then? We all will as tax payers. Some of us more than others because we make more or less than others. I for one, perfer to pay for my own. I don't need the government getting into my life any more than they are already. The government can't run social security or wars right. What makes us believe they will run health care right? People want it because they don't have to write a check out of their pocket to pay for it. The are too busy with the other more important things in life, like ipods, cell phones, computers, cable tv, hbo, new trucks or suv's in the driveway, paying alimony and child support, etc. This list goes on and on.

BigAl 7 years, 4 months ago

seriouscat... your post is great. A lot of people are missing the points that you are trying to make. I agree with you 100% and I am NOT asking for FREE health insurance. I am only asking for some sort of regulation to guard against the very things you brought up. Every year, health insurance goes up in this country while the level of care goes down. I provide and make health care available for approximately 15 employees. (I pay part of the premiums) At the current rate that health care is rising, I simply cannot continue to provide this benefit without some relief.

kansas778 7 years, 4 months ago

seriouscat, for one so concerned with waste, why wouldn't you subscribe to the most efficient system for allocating limited resources?

The only ones suffering from myopia are those who think government control is a good thing, and that they can get anything for free. No matter how much you try, the top 1% will only pay so much before they take their ball and go home. The government does a terrible job when it interferes in what would be otherwise free market decisions. Take the flu vaccine shortage as an example, where the government set a price that was too low, so that fewer and fewer companies made vaccines. Any hiccup in production means massive shortages because there are too few producers.

moo 7 years, 4 months ago

DPP and Bowhunter, I am going to medical school next year. Yes, I will probably be over 100 grand in debt when I am through. Yes I want to be able to pay that back. But let me give you a hint, doctors are not poor in countries that have relatively sane healthcare systems, not even close to it. The doctors I met in Germany had at least the same standard of living as those here. In fact, I would say higher as they were far less stressed out than doctors I have shadowed in the US. Good doctors in the US spend endless amounts of time and energy trying to find ways to get their patients the treatment and prescriptions they need at prices they can afford. In Germany, physicians could just give people the treatment they needed without worrying about the patients financial situation. This made medicine a far less stressful occupation than it is here, and patients could concentrate energy on recovering rather than worrying about how to pay for it.

Please, as a future physician, don't use my salary as an argument for the corrupt, morally bankrupt, and completely inefficient system which we now have.

Healthcare is not currently a human right in the US. It should be.

Eileen Jones 7 years, 4 months ago

Anonymous user

Dollypawpaw (Anonymous) says:

If I am now going to have to take of other peoples kids like americorps sick kids.

I want to have a say on who breeds and who doesn't.


Adolf Hitler said the exact same thing. Some think he was a genius.

jafs 7 years, 4 months ago

Just a few comments:

"Self-evident rights" is somewhat of a cop-out, and I'm not at all sure that all of us have an innate sense that we have a God-given right to own property, for example.

The level of medical care in this country is not at all commensurate with the costs. Even if one disagrees with the idea of government involvement in medicine, one should be concerned about this problem. We pay far more than other countries and get a lower standard of care.

Drug companies and insurance companies make huge profits and have gotten very powerful in Washington. Just one example: In trials, insurance companies have managed to legislate that jurors do not know the real parties in a case are insurance companies rather than individuals.

We should demand that the level of care received is commensurate with the costs, at the very least.

And perhaps it makes more sense to have a non-profit health care system.

kansas778 7 years, 4 months ago

jafs (Anonymous) says:

Just a few comments:

"Self-evident rights" is somewhat of a cop-out, and I'm not at all sure that all of us have an innate sense that we have a God-given right to own property, for example.


Absolutely everyone has an innate sense to a natural right to own property. Every little boy and girl quickly learns the word "mine!" And every person would expect that if something of theirs was taken from them, they would have a right to get it back.

Our level of care is commensurate with the costs, you are just ignorant of this fact. If you get cancer, you have a much better chance of surviving in the United States than any other country. We get care sooner than the socialist countries, and that in and of itself is a huge benefit. Also, if you are injured while receiving medical care, thanks to our generous courts, you're much more likely to be well compensated.

busymom 7 years, 4 months ago

DPP it is up to no one who "breeds" and who doesn't. So I suppose you're one that believes certain people (the poor) should just die out? I certainly hope not all doctor's think this way as I put MY childs health in their hands when she is sick.

I understand about having to pay back student loans, I myself will need to do that. I made the choice to go to school just as you did, it's not an excuse to go bashing the poor.

Eileen Jones 7 years, 4 months ago

Dolly rewrites history and the English language. The ignorant sheeple who follow the neocons haven't read "1984" but you can be sure the neocons have read it, and learned it well.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 7 years, 4 months ago

It's not a universal right for corporations to run without paying taxes or only with tax money and subsidies, but I don't hear any of you right wingers complaining about that. People who are on welfare are getting health care. The people who aren't getting it are working jobs that pay less than 10 dollars/hour, and don't offer any insurance. Have you ever been in a situation when you had to choose rent and utilities or health insurance? I doubt out. The unwashed privilege have no idea what the real world is like.

kansas778 7 years, 4 months ago

logicsound04 (Anonymous) says:

The free market is very efficient at doing one thing-allocating resources based on ability to pay. However, when it comes to healthcare, allocation based on capability to pay is NOT efficient. Efficiency in healthcare means allocating resources based on NEED.


Demand is not made up of just ability to pay. You simplify the argument so you can dismiss it. You also assume that health care is not being allocated with respect to need. Who are these odd people getting expensive medical care just because they can pay for it? Does anyone get chemo who doesn't need it? Our system DOES allocate resources based on need, ability to pay, and many other factors. Factors far to complicated for the government to properly handle. Just look at how the flu vaccine shortage came about.

paavopetie 7 years, 4 months ago

Imagine what would happen to the price of beef if the government said eat all you want, we'll pay for it?


Actually, the price of beef is kept quite low by government subsidies. And by looking at America's obesity epidemic, I'd say we are currently eating as much beef as we want. And yes, we all are paying for it, with our tax dollars for farm subsidies, and with our rising health insurance costs due to heart attacks, diabetes, etc. from all of the problems caused by being overweight.

devobrun 7 years, 4 months ago

So I looked over my copy of the U.S. constitution and the bill of rights. Each right is related to the limitation of government intrusion in citizen's lives. Didn't see anything about providing for the welfare of the people.

I don't think universal health care is a right any more than universal food is. It's 12:30 pm and I'm hungry. I think I'll spend some of my $ to buy some food, kinda like spending my $ to buy health care. It's not a right, it's a choice.

There are lots of medical procedures out there that can be had for enough $. Various types of scans can identify everything from atherosclerosis to Alzheimer's precursors. They aren't cost effective, but you could always buy your own PET scanner. So how do you draw the line? In America the line is usually drawn by $. Not by government decree. Neither is perfect.

But I just keep coming back to the first ten amendments to the constitution, where my rights for limited government intervention in my life are spelled out. I'd prefer to go it alone, thank you. I prefer freedom to security. But that's just me. You other guys can enjoy your soft lives in mommies arms if you like.

kansas778 7 years, 4 months ago

By that defintion, LS04, most people don't need health insurance!

Staci Dark Simpson 7 years, 4 months ago

I don't think it needs to be free, our great price through my hubbys work comes out to be about 1100/month for our family. Granted it is the cadillac of coverage that is ridiculous! Thats another mortgage. So people like us have to decide whether we want to eat, pay utilities, the mortgage, and a modest car payment or get medical care. Guess what we choose? We work more than 40 hours and we can't afford health insurance. Try shopping for individual insurance. It is bad coverage, expensive, high deductible, no maternity care, and barely covers anything. I think most people just a want a good product at a modest price. I would happily pay 300 a month for good coverage that doesn't have 1K-2K deductible.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 4 months ago

One very large healthcare insurance system reduces admin costs by approximately 25% considering admin costs are at about 33%. It also provides more leverage for cost negotiation on pharmaceuticals.
It also would provide hospitals and clinics with money for their efforts. It also would open doors for jobs and new economic development across the USA. It would also provide our veterans with the care they need now instead of waiting for a decision from the DOD. It also offers patients choice of doctors rather than choosing from a list. *It also eliminates expensive co pays plus premium cost.

*It also eliminates the problem of taxpayers filing bankruptcy,losing their homes and then becoming largely and/or completely dependent on social services due to medical bills cleaning out their assets. The cost of this trickles back to taxpayers.

*Our Healthcare industry supports a lot of CEO's with golden parachutes and special interest campaign money. Their always seems to be plenty of campaign money. What a waste of medical care dollars.

*The huge plus for all is that everyone would have the same comprehensive health coverage, including all medical, hospital, eye care, dental care, long-term care, and mental health services.

*The very large negative of today is many people and businesses are paying huge premiums for insurance that is almost worthless if they were to have a serious illness.

No one complains much about corporate socialism which is what corporate welfare is all about. But when it comes to healthcare OMG that is just awful. Wall Street thrives from taxpayer bailouts ...sounds like socialism Financial screw ups such as the latest sub prime receive taxpayer bailouts..sounds line socialism Military industrialized Complex = socialism(50 cents of every tax dollar) The airlines industry is supported by taxpayers...could be socialism * Medicare has always been touted as one of the most efficient programs at about 4% overhead to date like Social security.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 4 months ago

Is national health insurance "socialized medicine"? No. Socialized medicine is a system in which doctors and hospitals work for the government and draw salaries from the government. Doctors in the Veterans Administration and the Armed Services are paid this way. Examples also exist in Great Britain and Spain.

But in most European countries, Canada, Australia and Japan they have socialized financing, or socialized health insurance, not socialized medicine. The government pays for care that is delivered in the private (mostly not-for-profit) sector. This is similar to how Medicare works in this country. Doctors are in private practice and are paid on a fee-for-service basis from government funds. The government does not own or manage their medical practices or hospitals.

The term socialized medicine is often used to conjure images of government bureaucratic interference in medical care. That does not describe what happens in countries with national health insurance. It does describe the interference by insurance company bureaucrats in our health system.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 4 months ago

Currently, about 60% of our health care system is financed by public money: federal and state taxes, property taxes and tax subsidies.

These funds pay for Medicare, Medicaid, the VA, coverage for public employees (including teachers), elected officials, military personnel, etc.

There are also hefty tax subsidies to employers to help pay for their employees' health insurance. About 20% of heath care is financed by all of us individually through out-of-pocket payments, such as co-pays, deductibles, the uninsured paying directly for care, people paying privately for premiums, etc. Private employers only pay 20% of health care costs.

In all, it is a very "regressive" way to finance health care, in that the poor pay a much higher percentage of their income for health care than higher income individuals do.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 4 months ago

Essentially healthcare is a right. Equal healthcare should not be denied to any human being. All of us should have access to the same comprehensive health coverage, including all medical, hospital, eye care, dental care, long-term care, and mental health services.

jafs 7 years, 4 months ago

There have been studies showing that Americans pay more per capita for health care than many other countries.

In addition, there is data that shows that according to a variety of objective criteria, our level of care is lower than those countries.

I wish I could provide specific links to this data, but I can't.

I have personally witnessed this with my mother, who has had a variety of health problems. The care she received at a rehab center in a nursing home, a hospital in the area, and from a variety of doctors was far below what I would consider excellent, despite the high cost.

There was a huge lack of communication between different facilities, outright incompetence among doctors, lack of attention paid by nursing home staff, lack of obvious preventive measures, an emphasis on following procedures (presumably an anti-lawsuit measure) rather than doing what made sense or what worked, 7-8 hours of waiting time to get a room at a hospital, etc.

The nursing home alone cost far more than it delivered in terms of care. I walked by a room where a woman was calling for help - I had to go tell a nurse.

One doctor went so far as to tell us that she was in the end-stages of cancer and there was nothing we could do, despite the fact that her specialist said this was not true - this doctor showed no interest in contacting the specialist, or in our information. She has since recovered from her pneumonia, completed her rehab, and recent scans show no cancer. I wonder how much that doctor makes?

As far as whether health care is a right guaranteed by the Constitution, I don't know. But, there is a phrase "to provide for the common welfare" which doesn't seem to get much airtime.

jafs 7 years, 4 months ago

As far as innate senses of private property go, I wonder what children in non-capitalist societies feel and display about this.

Children in this country are affected by their parents, families, and the broader society from a very young age.

jafs 7 years, 4 months ago

DL,

I notice that despite your lengthy posts, you make no comments at all about my personal experience with my mother's care.

Statistics are always difficult to evaluate.

People we met in Canada were quite happy with their healthcare, and didn't seem to mind paying higher taxes for it. In fact, one person we spoke with didn't even know what her tax rate was! It didn't seem important to her.

I have a neighbor who lived in Germany for some time, and reports that their health care is better in a variety of ways.

Doctors we spoke with who have lived and practiced in both Canada and the US told of their shock upon having patients in the US who were unable to afford recommended tests/treatments.

They also said in general that if one is well-off, one can do better in the US, but if not, one will do better in Canada.

I report these things in lieu of statistics.

Also, in general, it makes sense to me that a for-profit industry (drug company, insurance company, for-profit hospital, etc.) will cost more than a non-profit one. The for-profit industry must make enough to cover expenses and also make a profit.

And, the extra costs of administration and the difficulties of communication between different companies are also burdensome.

Finally, the obvious disconnect between an insurance company's need to make a profit and a patient's needs for health care should be considered.

Also, you should notice that I haven't advocated a national system, merely that our current system should at least be vastly improved.

pomegranate 7 years, 4 months ago

Just keep in mind this little saying: Gas, grass, or a$$, nobody rides for free.

jumpin_catfish 7 years, 4 months ago

Universal medicine is socialized medicine and the government has not done a lot of things effectively or efficiently in my life time, except tax the hell out of us. Why will this be any different? Bend over middle class here it comes again.

jafs 7 years, 4 months ago

DL,

Thanks for the sympathy, but I was using that as an example of health care that seemed much too expensive for the quality received.

I figured you wouldn't like anecdotal evidence either.

The emergency room is by far the most expensive way to deal with any problems - a sore throat doesn't seem like enough of a reason to visit one. Also, I suspect that hospitals are performing far more "defensive medicine" than they should be, merely because of the risk of being sued.

You point out another problem of our current system - insurance companies making medical decisions. This doesn't seem right to me - doctors should make those, in consulation with their patients.

And, when hospitals perform services on uninsured patients, or services which are denied coverage by insurance companies, their other rates go up to cover them.

This means, for example, that folks who are paying for their own health care are paying a lot more than they possibly should, and certainly more than insurance companies do.

I'm glad we agree our current system could be much improved - let's hope that the next administration will follow through with that.

werekoala 7 years, 3 months ago

"why do many or most Medicaid systems : including Kansas' : use outside, private agencies to administer their claims and payments?"

For ideological reasons, not practical ones. In almost every case this has been tried the result has been lower service levels and increased costs-per-patient. But like Bush, throwing kids under the bus with SCHIP, scoring political points and fighting battles on behalf of your insurance industry donors is more important than actually helping people.

The problem is that medicine is fundamentally different from things like housing, cars, and toasters -- capitalism works fine for them because there are an almost infinite number of features and price points that can be adapted to meet a given need: fer instance, you can trade up to a 4-BR house, or keep the 3-BR and get granite countertops. Hence, competition and profitablity flourish.

But in medicine, there really is only one empirically tested gold standard of patient care -- anything less is leaving yourself open for massive (and well-deserved) malpractice claims. So there aren't hardly any corners that can be cut, in the same way that private business can cut corners on road construction, or homes or automobiles.

In a nutshell, here's how it works: If different people need/want different varieties of a commodity with a demand that is elastic and intrinsically driven, the free market will achieve much greater efficiencies. But if everyone needs the exact same variety of a commodity, and their need for it is inelastic and driven by external, non-controllable forces, the government does it better, cheaper.

A rational national health care funding program is no more the second coming of the Soviet Union than having the government controlling the Army, police, fire, electrical company, etc.

jafs 7 years, 3 months ago

DL,

It would be better if medical decisions were based on rational, necessary, preventive, efficient and effective considerations, IMHO.

I don't have a lot of faith that for-profit insurance companies are the best way to make that happen.

Your comment about doctors is interesting - they probably change their opinion because they don't want to spend the time/energy necessary to battle with the insurance companies, who have made an art form out of delaying and obfuscating.

I'm not advocating national health insurance as the answer to this problem. I have concerns about massive government systems, efficiency, etc. If we were to consider some sort of national system, I would tend towards national health CARE rather than insurance. It seems simpler and more straightforward.

Our current system is quite lacking, in my experience, though, and should be improved immediately. For example, any doctor of a patient's choice should be able to easily review and tests, x-rays, etc. already taken. Patients shouldn't have to be such vigilant self-advocates. Doctors should be less arrogant and listen more to patients and their families. A primary care physician should co-ordinate other treatments and be more involved in them. When my mother was in rehab for months, her PCP didn't call or check on her at all until I called him.

A good health care system would be one in which doctors and patients, working together, made good decisions (ie. decisions that are reasonable, efficient, and effective). It would be one in which the level of care received is commensurate with the cost.

If any of the participants in health care (doctors, hospitals, etc.) are in it primarily to make money, I don't think the above will happen.

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