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Archive for Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Care plans face obstacles

June 17, 2009

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It would appear that Congress will enact some form of health care legislation over the next few months. The exact form of that legislation and the extent to which it conforms to the plans discussed by President Obama during the election campaign remain uncertain. It does appear that the goal of any legislation Congress eventually enacts will be to provide at least minimal health coverage to most Americans, if not to every American.

In theory the extension of a minimum acceptable level of health coverage to the majority of Americans is a laudable idea. But, as in so many things, the devil is most certainly going to be in the details. To my mind there are several crucial issues which will not be at all easy to resolve to the satisfaction of many of us.

The first issue about which I worry is the extent to which the federal government assumes a more active role in providing health care to individual citizens. When one looks at the efficiency and competence of large scale federal government projects since the Second World War it is difficult to feel great confidence in the idea of the federal government attempting the massive task of becoming a universal health care provider.

Simply the problems of scale, geographical and economic, make the idea of a federal national health service quite problematic. Add to this the fact that large bureaucracies tend usually to allow individuals to “fall through the cracks,” particularly those who cannot or will not comply with the paperwork demands that most bureaucracies create, must give us all pause.

The second issue which all Americans must worry about is cost. It is already becoming apparent that any large-scale expansion of medical coverage in the United States will be immensely expensive. We are already facing a frightening federal deficit, one which promises only to increase in the near future. (I am afraid I simply do not believe Washington’s promises that the deficit will be reduced over the next five years.)

If the federal government takes on the costs of a new, expanded health care system and simply adds these costs to the deficit, the time will soon come when a $1 trillion deficit looks good. The president’s attempts to force medical providers to help finance more health coverage have already proven controversial and may, in fact, be impractical.

Taxing employer-provided health care benefits also would be quite problematic. It will directly harm America’s middle class, a group already financially challenged by the current recession. The politics of such a tax also will be difficult, at best, because labor unions, which fought so hard over the past decades to obtain health benefits for their members, will be particularly opposed to such a tax.

A third major issue with an expanded federal health care system is privacy. The more involvement the federal government has in individual health care, the more likely that the government also will have access to individual medical records. I believe that the federal government already has far too much access to individuals’ information. I simply do not want the federal government to have greater access to any individuals’ records. The potential for abuse is far too great. The potential for inadvertent disclosure is also far too great.

The next few months will be a critical time for the future of health care in the United States. I want to see expanded coverage, but I do not trust Congress or the executive branch to shape that future on their own. Health care is far too important to be left solely to the politicians. I hope that the medical profession and health care providers, in general, as well as corporations and small business owners raise their voices now and make sure that those in Congress know what Americans really want and need in health care before they enact a sweeping legislative program.

Comments

disgustedagain 5 years, 2 months ago

"In practice, this means insurers target people with high-cost conditions such as breast cancer and lymphoma and direct employees to examine patients’ paperwork for any pretense to cancel coverage. People with innocent mistakes and inadvertent omissions; people who were unaware of a preexisting condition at the time they filled out the application because the symptoms hadn’t developed yet; people whose preexisting conditions were minor and had nothing whatsoever to do with the disease costing the insurer money — such people found themselves dumped out of the health care system at their time of greatest need." from the Mahablog "Life as a Pre-existing Condition" Karen Tumulty

See several articles today on the practice of rescission by the health insurance industry. Maybe the government won't be perfect but if we have a public plan that is set up as non-profit, it will be 10x better than the currently illegal and immoral practices of the unregulated and apparently above-the-law health insurance industry.

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disgustedagain 5 years, 2 months ago

Correction: The Mahablog wrote the above quote, and referenced an article in LA Times (by Lisa Girion) and an article by Karen Tumulty in Time.

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Richard Heckler 5 years, 2 months ago

""The U.S. health care system is typically characterized as a largely private-sector system, so it may come as a surprise that more than 60% of the $2 trillion annual U.S. health care bill is paid through taxes which comes to $1.2 trillion. $1.2 trillion is a sweet gravy train for the insurance industry. http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2008/0508harrison.html

That same $1.2 trillion can cover all americans. Now this is the real surprise. So the government is not using our tax dollars effiiciently which is to say WE need OUR tax dollars applied in a true fiscally responsible manner.

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Stain 5 years, 2 months ago

We do not need more insurance.

We need more health care.

It's not the same thing.

Government should not provide everything. It should make sure every American, rich or poor, has access to:

education health care

So far they are 1 for 2. And barely that.

Universal health care with a single risk pool works in other developed countries and it costs a fraction of what Americans pay now. Switching is a no-brainer.

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Richard Heckler 5 years, 2 months ago

National Health Insurance will pay the private health care people.

IF the plans on the table are to include the insurance companies of course they will need to increase taxes. Why?

Because of the USA insurance industry Americans spend more than anyone else in the world on health care.

Each health insurer adds its bureaucracy, profits, high corporate salaries, advertising,SHAREHOLDERS and sales commissions to the actual cost of providing care.

Not only is this money lost to health care, but it pays for a system that often makes it more difficult and complicated to receive the care we’ve already paid for.

Shareholders are the primary clients of for-profit insurance companies, not patients.

Moreover, households’ actual costs as a percentage of their incomes are far higher today than most imagine.

Even families with no health insurance contribute substantially to our health care system through taxes.

Recognizing these hidden costs that U.S. households pay for health care today makes it far easier to see how a universal single-payer system—with all of its obvious advantages—can cost Americans less than the one we have today.

The U.S. health care system is typically characterized as a largely private-sector system, so it may come as a surprise that more than 60% of the $2 trillion annual U.S. health care bill is paid through taxes which comes to $1.2 trillion. $1.2 trillion is a sweet gravy train for the insurance industry.

http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2008/0508harrison.html

That same $1.2 trillion can cover all americans. Now this is the real surprise. So the government is not using our tax dollars effiiciently which is to say WE need OUR tax dollars applied in a true fiscally responsible manner.

THERE IS NO NEED TO RAISE TAXES BECAUSE NATIONAL HEALTH INSURANCE REDUCES THE COST THEREBY MAKING THE EXISTING $1.2 TRILLION MORE THAN ADEQUATE

If more dollars are necessary there is no reason to continue subsidizing wealthy USA corporations. It is time to cut this group off welfare. Use OUR tax dollars to cover OUR medical insurance in order to pay the private healthcare people which in essence will increase profits and create more jobs within that industry without the need to raise taxes.

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