Archive for Sunday, June 4, 2017

Your Turn: Our health care system is a failure

June 4, 2017

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You really have to wonder what kind of health care system we have when Micah Fletcher, the sole surviving hero of Jeremy Christian’s racist attack in Portland, Ore., needs a Go Fund Me page to cover his medical expenses.

Think about it. What kind of society do we live in when people go online to ask relative strangers to pay medical bills? When most people can’t afford the cost of treatment, and many can’t even afford health insurance? It’s a house of cards, a Ponzi scheme, a shack built out of cardboard and glue that can’t hold up in even a modest storm.

The Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, was a modest attempt to add a staircase here, change a light fixture there; it didn’t address the underlying incoherence. The House Republicans’ American Health Care Act of 2017 was even worse. Whatever the Senate comes up with, it will still be inadequate. Because the underlying assumptions are false.

Our system is based on the notion that it’s normal to be healthy and abnormal to be sick. That’s ridiculous. Everyone gets sick, just not (thankfully) everyone at the same time. And our system is based on the notion that people consume health care the way they consume, say, ice cream. But you don’t stand in front of the surgery counter in the middle of a heart attack trying to decide which surgery you feel like having today.

And to say that costs are unreasonable is an understatement. Not even a millionaire can afford it. Got mantle cell lymphoma? That will be six rounds of chemo costing $95,000 (including a $24,000 neulasta shot) each, followed by a bone marrow transplant, followed by post-transplant therapies for a total of (drum roll please)… $1 million? $2 million?

Hence the Ponzi scheme aspect, the house of cards. What other purveyor of universally needed goods prices them so that almost no one who uses them can actually afford the costs? It makes no sense.

I’m not an economist. I don’t have any solutions (although single-payer sure sounds good). But until we stop thinking of health care as something optional and of sickness as something that happens to other people, until we stop the financial shell game with its winners and losers, neither of whom deserve their fate, we won’t stand a chance of getting things right.

— Judy Roitman is a professor emerita of mathematics at the University of Kansas.

Comments

Carol Bowen 7 months, 3 weeks ago

i'm surprised there have no responses to Judy Roitman's letter. Our personal health care should not be a profit-loss free enterprise. The patient always bears the loss. We are treating ourselves and others miserably. As Judy pointed out, everyone gets sick at some time. (Everyone gets older, too.) Where is our respect and human dignity?

As I hear the current news as a senior with a pre-existing condition, I am hearing the possibility of more expensive insurance for a pre-existing condition and for being a senior, while my Social Security benefit will decrease. Is growing old a pre-existing condition? Where is the logic here? How is it possible to anticpate, plan, and pay for this circus?

Michael Shaw 7 months, 3 weeks ago

This explains why single payer is the only way. It's not a matter of ideology, but of math.

Carol Bowen 7 months, 3 weeks ago

The question is who can pay medical bills? The bills are not affordable. I did not know California had a single payer system. Who receives the benefits in California?

What would it cost for people to use emergency rooms instead of a doctor's office? I suspect emergency rooms cost significantly more than medical offices because of the equipment and space needs. . If we new emergency room costs for the same services, we could compare costs. Thanks for the link. ~ Carol

Bob Smith 7 months, 3 weeks ago

As the story states, the single payer system is currently under consideration in California.

Bob Summers 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Health care is great. The problem is there are too, too many, people wanting and getting a free ride. Therefore, it is expensive.

Half the population in America pays for the other half. Food. Shelter. Booze. Healthcare. etc etc etc

Steven Guinn 7 months, 2 weeks ago

So Bob Summer consider this. I have Diabetes, I attempted to get health insurance through Kansas High Risk Pool. I was quoted premium of $3000/month. That was 1995. Current mode of treating diabetes with drugs, exercise and counseling has a FAILURE RATE OF 92 percent...this according to American Diabetes Assoc...REALLY???? Big Pharma looking at profits in the TRILLIONS. So in CLOSING BOBBY, THOSE THAT LIVE IN GLASS HOUSES SHOULDNT THROW STONES

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