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How would you change the health care system in America?

Asked at Massachusetts Street on March 22, 2009

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Photo of Brett Bendele

“Make it less expensive to buy health plans for people who don’t receive health plans (through their employer).”

Photo of Carol Margolin

“I think the first place they ought to start is with the insurance companies because you don’t want doctors with less training.”

Photo of Nancy Schwachter

“I would make sure that every child in this country has health insurance. … They need testing for lead, they need vaccinations, they need health care when they’re sick and can’t afford it.”

Photo of Trent Hauck

“I think we should privatize health care because I don’t think the government can do a very good job of providing health care to everybody.”

Comments

ocean 5 years ago

let's see today on NPR we are now 47th in quality of health care, there's a problem?

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tonymontana 5 years ago

ms. canada

just curious, why are you interested in our news all the way up there?

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RedwoodCoast 5 years ago

This Trent Hauck guy up there must not have been thinking when he made his statement. How can you say that health care should be privatized (it is) because government can't do a very good job of providing health care for everyone. WTF? And privatized health care can?

Anyway, I think some fairly stringent regulations on the pharmaceutical industry (i.e.--drug reps and the patent process) would be an excellent place to start if we want to improve our health care.

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Windlass 5 years ago

It is never in a corporation's interest to keep you alive because keeping you alive will always cut into its profits.

Now you're getting into health care for the poor.

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sourpuss 5 years ago

It is never in a corporation's interest to keep you alive because keeping you alive will always cut into its profits.

Enough said.

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ms_canada 5 years ago

Actually Newell - I would not have to go back to Alberta for treatment. My gov. health care program will pay part of the cost of care in the US. Plus, I always take supplementary insurance to cover the cost over and above what my Alberta gov. will pay. My motto -" don't leave home without it."

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Flap Doodle 5 years ago

Give everybody bright cheerful clothing so that while they are waiting months for government-rationed health care, they'll look happy.

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Multidisciplinary 5 years ago

Newell, Having had a few sick kids, and being messed up myself, it doesn't take much to need to be referred to those 'specialists'.

I learned a lot about a doctor's training, while my son's 5 day a week caregiver (who is now a Doctor! Woo Hoo Tiffani!) was going to school. She told me, that they explained to them how medical school works. They get a lot of ground stuff about anatomy, chem, etc.

Then, the goal is to expose the student to many medical conditions, but NOT for them to memorize everything about every condition that might occur. Because there is just too much that can happen to a body. That's why they have books, and consult other physicians. Specialists pick one aspect of medicine, and learn even more than the regular GP will ever know. That's why they send you to the specialist. It's because you have a condition that was more than just regular office visit treatment.

Think of it as going to enrollment. They help you get into college, but your advisor is who you need for 'custom' advice for your choice of schools.

(I'm sure you know most of that, but I wrote it for those who don't)

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Newell_Post 5 years ago

ms_canada:

Sure. Come to Kansas. You're welcome here. Just don't get sick or you'll have to go back to Alberta....

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ms_canada 5 years ago

Donnuts - look at my profile, no I am not FROM Canada, I am IN Canada. I live in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. But I sure wish I was somewhere else right now. I am sick to death of the bloody snow here. It snowed again ALL day today Can you believe it?. I have a huge 3 foot pile of the dang stuff on my patio and it will be another month or more before it melts at this rate. Can I please come to Kansas???

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Pilgrim2 5 years ago

SettingTheRecordStraight (Anonymous) says…

My prescription for healthcare reform: Get government as far away from it as possible.


AMEN!!!!!

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Pilgrim2 5 years ago

merrill (Anonymous) says…

Health Care is privatized and will remain such.


BS, Richard. If the government controls the method of payment, the government controls the health care industry and thus seizes control of one-seventh of the country's GDP. That is NOT the government's job, and it certainly isn't privatized.

HR 676 would cover every person for all necessary medical care...


And some government bureaucrat would decide the definition of "necessary" for you.

HR 676 ends deductibles and co-payments. HR 676 would save hundreds of billions annually by eliminating the high overhead and profits of the private health insurance industry and HMOs.


There you have it, folks. Richard doesn't want insurance companies to make a profit. Richard wants to put them out of business and let the government run roughshod over one-seventh of the nation's economy.

If you like the VA and the IRS, you're gonna love government health care. And if you think it's expensive now, just wait until it "free."

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dajudge 5 years ago

what i said before. let all get heathcare. no pay for the inept and destitute, up to the poverty level. Then, an affordable amount to cover the basics. Then, if you can afford better, so be it.

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Bob Forer 5 years ago

The orignial me is absolutely right! "eople need to realize that their lifestyle affects their health as a whole: mental, emotional, physical. You don't make healthy choices, you won't get healthy consequences." Thats right one.

If you are sick, have a toothache, etc,, its probably because you are not praying to Jesus enough. Either that, or praying too much. So, if you're ill, screw you. Either find religion, or leave it. Its that simple.

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sgtwolverine 5 years ago

"I think Obama will do something w/the health system."

Fixed.

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Original_Me 5 years ago

Some things in the health system are just bogus. Like paying so much for a little bar of soap, or for medication. If generics can make them that low, that the hospital ought to distribute the meds at the price it cost to make them & charge the patient that amount. Let the government take up the tab on revenue rather than the patient. I think Obama will do something good w/the health system.

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purplesage 5 years ago

It occurs to me that insurance used to be a means of deaing with the "catastrophic" health situations that most of us face from time to time throughout our lives. Today, it has become a means of paying preferred rates to get health care they think is necessary.

I would start by leveling the playing field. Everyone would pay a fair and reasonable price for care. It would still be expensive I fear for average folks, but out with the $10 diapers and $7 Tylenol tablets and other such foolishness .

If you have had a recent encounter with a hospital, for example, the bills are just unbelievable. So are the provider write offs for those fortunate to have insurance.

Where do they got those amounts they charge? Fish numbers out of the air? And if they can write off 50% of more for the insured, why are they billing like that to begin with?

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Donnuts 5 years ago

Here let me show you something you don't seem to be able to see.

The governor of Kansas was once an insurance commissioner. Insurance companies need to be regulated. They don't do it on their own.

When I get injured on the job; I want coverage. When I am hit by a car walking down the street whether I am employed or not; I want coverage.

When someone does something wrong by the law; it is expected that they pay a penalty with time or fines.

When a company injures somebody by making them consume something that hurts them like breathing asbestos; I want them held liable and to pay for my health care afterward.

There is no gang or group of insurance companies that are going to do it. There are plenty of good people that have cancer that have a crack at a good life.

We are not living in "The 6th day" featuring Arnie Schwartzenegger. People do not just get new bodies. They need treatment. We have the ability to treat people that have illnesses.

They talk of free diabetes testers on TV with that old dude that used to be Gus Witherspoon. There is a reason that people put cans in front of cash registers of quick shops with pictures of people that need surgeries. It is because WE DON'T HAVE ADEQUATE HEALTH CARE !! CHILDREN UNDER THE AGE OF 16 ARE NOT COVERED AUTOMATICALLY. When you become an adult you should not be held liable for everything that can happen to you physically fiscally.

There is a reason I kept trying to leave your stupid little town so many time.

Ms.Canada--- are you really from Canada?

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RoeDapple 5 years ago

Okay, it seems I made an error. Hermi is a she, not he. At least that's where the name originated. Doesn't change much though, does it Cleo? I mean Hermi...............

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Polly_Gomer 5 years ago

ms_canada (Anonymous) says… "Liberty one - can you explain ..."

Liberty one is a TROLL, pay it no mind.

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sgtwolverine 5 years ago

O_M, the internet makes a lot of people very unpleasant when, in person, they might be nice. I try not to give into the temptation to use the internet to be something I wouldn't be in person ... and sometimes I actually succeed.

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RoeDapple 5 years ago

"He once was blind but now can't see......"

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RoeDapple 5 years ago

HermioneElliott in a post elsewhere proclaims himself "religious" and "above it all" then comes here and calls a fellow poster an "insufferable, smug, arrogant, revolving s.o.b." It's going to be fun watching him go down..........

Original_Me, if all that "revolving" makes you a little woozy we will understand..................

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Original_Me 5 years ago

Sgt: genetics is a factor, thank yor for clearing that, I meant to, but sometimes I type as fast as what goes in my head. Thanks for being an adult about correcting me though, you rock!

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HermioneElliott 5 years ago

sgtwolverine You said what I meant, only you said it nicer. I had to have cataracts in both eyes removed and I was 99% blind for a while trying to find a way to get the operation. Finally things happened and I qualified for a medical card and found a doctor in Ottawa to accept the card. No one in Lawrence would. I have my sight back and I will be forever grateful we have a system where this is possible. The other remark just pushed the wrong button. Like people you make remarks about obesity. It is really, really getting on my last nerve. Multi you must have the only doctor in Lawrence that would have done that.

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Multidisciplinary 5 years ago

Local dr office. Baby, fall. Doctor brief exam, didn't think anything wrong, but did 1 collarbone xray. (Just because his own baby had a similar experience, so he checked) Baby had broken bone. No treatment you just let it heal. Bill at counter said "treatment of broken collarbone, $150.00" No xray fee, no office fee. I questioned it, as he hadn't done any casting or other. The receptionist said, Oh, don't worry, if your insurance doesn't pay for it, we'll just write it off.

This was the first I learned of how it works.

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ms_canada 5 years ago

Liberty one - can you explain what you mean by the gov. confiscating someones property. Would that be for non-payment of taxes? Sorry about that, it that be the case.

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Bob Harvey 5 years ago

always_correct (Anonymous) says…

i've always been amazed that the health care industry is one of the only sectors of business that doesn't post prices


Actually for the vast amount of health care providers their prices are very clear...sort of. We do talk about the number of self-pay, non-insured patient, however,the majority have health insurance. The greatest number of providers contract with insurance companies and the products that they sell. Physicians and hospitals do have their fee schedules (and can be accessed if the patient asks) but what the physician receives from the insurance company is set by the insurance plan, not the physician. For example, a physician's standard, mid-level office visit is, say $70. The physician contracts with ABC insurance company and has agreed to accept $55 for that same office visit. Insurance company XYZ allows $60 for that same office visit. Federal insurance plans allow, perhaps $40 for the same visit. So, what is the physician's price? Standard answer...it depends.

The other difficulty for self-pay patients is that prior to seeing the physician no one knows what the price is. Many times patients call the physician office and asks what will it cost me to see Dr. A? An honest office will say that it depends on what is done. Will there be lab work? Who knows. Will an x-ray be necessary? Maybe. Will it take 15 minutes of the physician's time or 30? No one can tell.

I suppose it would be like taking your car to the garage. Call the garage and say, "my car is knocking, how much will it cost?" How can the mechanic know what the cost will be without seeing the car?

It's a crazy system, of that there is little doubt. Regrettably there is no easy answer.

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sgtwolverine 5 years ago

"Bad eyes? Look at what might be the cause: too much or too little of something. "

...Or genetics. Some of us have bad eyes because of those pesky genes we just can't control.

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Multidisciplinary 5 years ago

Joke time. A linguistics professor was lecturing his class one day.

"In English", he said, "A double negative forms a positive. In some languages, though, such as Russian, a double negative is still a negative. However, there is no language wherein a double positive can form a negative."

A loud voice from the back of the room piped up, "Yeah, right."

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Original_Me 5 years ago

Hermione: This is where we can voice our opinions or discuss topics right? I've got an opinion about health care (& about various other things), you've got an opinion on my opinion(s). I take your insults as a compliment, yes, I am an s.o.b., but a good one at that. (Good witch + bad witch = Original_Me). Instead of "thinking" you're insulting others w/your opinion on their opinions, why don't you voice an opinion of the topic of your own. You sound like a miserable person, lighten up! This is blogging for crying out loud!

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Multidisciplinary 5 years ago

UK...don't think it's that neat people. Read the Telegraph everyday. They are having serious problems. Women have to drive around to different hospitals when they go in to labor, to find one that has a bed for them to deliver in. Forget rooms with two patients, think long wards with men and women sharing said ward, not curtained properly either. Closing GP offices, so that people have to go to 'large scale' facilities elsewhere, no where near home. Current situation reports where a large hospital was told years ago that serious serious problems in care were hospital wide, yet they did nothing. Now more than a hundred patients have died needlessly, so it's getting some attention from the upper management. --

xbus is on a roll today, lol.

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Windlass 5 years ago

I think Trent's going to grow up to be a shady business man, possibly go to jail...stuff like that.

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Newell_Post 5 years ago

Thanks, ms_canada. I wish some of our smart government people would "benchmark" all of the public health systems in the world and craft one that includes the good ideas and avoids the bad ideas from around the world.

I don't like big government and wish the government would get out of many things, with this one exception. I used to be on the board of directors of a small insurance company, and I can tell you that in this one area I would much rather deal with a government bureaucrat than with an insurance executive who isn't making his quota.

I would like to see someone study a 2-tiered system. The first tier would be a single-payer government system that provides universal, but VERY basic coverage to all. No transplants, no experimental drugs, limited access to specialists, plain-Jane hospitals, no mental health stuff, no substance abuse stuff, no helicopters, etc. etc. The second tier would be private insurance that would provide all of the "upgrades" such as direct access to specialists, transplants, etc.

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XD40 5 years ago

Windlass: you know not of what you speak. Medicare is expensive coverage which is why there are draconian payment controls in place. It is also expensive for taxpayers and beneficiaries. Most beneficiaries have to buy medi-gap insurance and pay the Part A & B premiums as well. Taxpayers, who are not covered by either program, pay exorbitant taxes to support it. It is a typical government program -- its unwieldy, expensive and not well run. Don't even get me started on the bureaucratic problems associated with medicaid. And, contrary to what you believe, neither program 'covers everything'.

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Windlass 5 years ago

There would be Medicare and Medicaid insurance only. These health programs have worked far better than any private industry, which the public-at-large (the uninsured) stopped buying into already.

Medicare and Medicaid are established, tested, proven, reliable, efficient, trusted, covers-everything health programs. Nothing else even comes close, folks, what you need is right in front of you.

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Liberty_One 5 years ago

ms_canada (Anonymous) says…

"Why, oh why do they stop at that and not care for your health? I would think that that would be the very most important responsibility of any government. If they don't why do you all sit back and accept it as your lot in life. Shame!!!"

Shame? You think it's shameful unless the government uses violence to confiscate someone's property for another's benefit?

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ms_canada 5 years ago

I would do what the Gov. of Canada did recently. They sent their Minister of Health, federal that is, on a fact finding trip to Europe to check out the different systems of health care. He did that and came back with a bunch of suggestions for improving health care in my country. He found good points in a number of the systems abroad. Someone above, I think it was donuts, kept talking about free health care. Our system is not free. We pay for it with our taxes. Mind you it seems free to the individual because a visit to his doctor costs him nothing at the time. A hospital stay is not followed by an invoice for a horrendous amount. Is it not the responsibility of government to provide certain essentials to it's citizens? Certain necessities are a given; highways, an army, police force, basic education. Just look around you and think about what you see. You see the things that the city has provided for you, albeit paid for through your civic taxes, sidewalks, paved streets, street lighting, garbage pickup, buses, snow clearing, cutting grass on the verges, parks for play and many more. Why, oh why do they stop at that and not care for your health? I would think that that would be the very most important responsibility of any government. If they don't why do you all sit back and accept it as your lot in life. Shame!!!

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always_correct 5 years ago

i've always been amazed that the health care industry is one of the only sectors of business that doesn't post prices. I don't want a public health care system, or much government regulation, but I would at least make doctor's offices and hospitals post prices. Drive price down. One reason insurance costs so much is because they're being charged so much by doctor's and no one questions it. A regular physical in this country can cost anywhere from $40 to $1500, but you would never know because no one asks. We could reduce the need for a health insurance industry if we just created an actual free market, this is a capitalist country after all.. Shouldn't there be competition?

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dajudge 5 years ago

Why is it that healthcare has to be offered through the workplace? Why can't businesses just pay higher wages, then each person can arrange their own healthcare. Let the government force insurance companies to offer a low cost plan that everyone can afford, then if you make more money and can afford more, better coverage, then good for you. Probably free up to the poverty level.

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XD40 5 years ago

Market-based reforms are what's needed:

http://www.heritage.org/Research/HealthCare/sr0027.cfm

Getting government out of the mix is essential, too.

http://conservatives4patientrights.org/plans.php

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ocean 5 years ago

take away all health care for insurance company executives so that they can 'feel' what it is like for poor people.

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HermioneElliott 5 years ago

Original_Me You are an insufferable, smug, arrogant, revolving s.o.b. So, you would make rules for the rest of us to follow and then penalize us when we don't. Reality is that we are human and prone to human frailties and error. There is no answer to the health care crisis. Our society is simply too large and too diverse and too complicated for there to be one.

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Liberty_One 5 years ago

Deregulate health care and the insurance industry.

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SettingTheRecordStraight 5 years ago

My prescription for healthcare reform: Get government as far away from it as possible.

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parrotuya 5 years ago

A liberal is just a conservative who hasn't lost his health insurance yet!

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Donnuts 5 years ago

HR 676 sounds like a good thing. I wonder. It would be good to make an existing program a better thing. It makes sense to do if it would work.

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Donnuts 5 years ago

class clown--

I guess I might have read into it what I think of the health care system in America. I do come from a perspective and it is of a small business owner that went under. Not necessarily for that reason.

Providing cheaper health care or options is an idea but it does not gibe with mine is that for the most part health care should be provided free from the government. I guess Micheal Moore's "Sicko" persuaded me more than I already was that it is a tangled mess that could just as easily be straightened out by a government program that included blanket coverage. They assure us in the movie that statistically actually we pay for worse coverage than Canada and England get for free. Check out the movie and compare England's maternity leave to ours!!!

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autie 5 years ago

everybody take two aspirin and call me in the morning.

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John Spencer 5 years ago

'They’re' is a contraction of the words They and Are. 'There' is used to refer to a place or location. 'Their' is used to show ownership. 'Their' is a possessive pronoun.

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Richard Heckler 5 years ago

Health Care is privatized and will remain such.

Win-Win Campaign HR 676: Healthcare Savings for Healthier Cities

We want YOU for a new campaign targeting local government entities – cities, towns, counties, school boards – in an effort to get them to endorse HR 676. Our hook is big money savings in a time of fiscal crisis for governments.

In a nutshell, the employer payroll tax that will be required for health coverage under HR 676 is considerably less (usually one-third to one-half) of what government entities now pay in health insurance premiums for their workers. Set asides to cover health benefits for already retired government workers will no longer be required. HR 676 will mean savings for public employees, too.

Help us get this message to local government officials. We are asking for interested people to sign up for this campaign, and commit to a 6-8 week process of learning and doing, culminating – if all goes well – in a resolution or public endorsement from your town, city, county or school board. Local officials will learn that national health insurance is the only reform that provides significant financial relief for fiscally strapped local governments.

http://www.healthcare-now.org/campaigns/win-win/

HR 676 is the only equitable approach that includes all of us.

HR 676 would cover every person for all necessary medical care including prescription drugs, hospital, surgical, outpatient services, primary and preventive care, emergency services, dental, mental health, home health, physical therapy, rehabilitation (including for substance abuse), vision care, hearing services including hearing aids, chiropractic, durable medical equipment, palliative care, and long term care.

A family of four making the median income of $56,200 would pay about $2,700 in payroll tax for all health care costs.

HR 676 ends deductibles and co-payments. HR 676 would save hundreds of billions annually by eliminating the high overhead and profits of the private health insurance industry and HMOs.

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classclown 5 years ago

Donnuts (Anonymous) says…

But Brett… why put the burden on small business owners and employers to pay for insurance on 10 people when they are already about to go under because of a bad economy.

=====================================

The way I read it, he isn't saying make employers provide cheaper health care. Rather he is saying that for those that don't receive employer provided benefits, their should be less expensive options than what there currently are.

Though I'm sure that in itself opens up a whole new can of worms.

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Chris Ogle 5 years ago

Ever wonder why so many tests, follow up visits, and specialists are needed? Quit suing everyone in sight when something doesn't meet your expectations.... that might help.

By the way, anyone heard from Donnuts???

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Original_Me 5 years ago

I think the magnitude depends on the individual. Ofcourse, excluding children. Lets say until you're 16 years old you're covered by the Federal Government. After that, you need to meet certain criteria in order for the Government to provide free health care, such as broken bones, serious wounds, etc. Other than that, lets say you are responsible for the condition of your health: teeth, eyes, skin, colds, etc. People need to realize that their lifestyle affects their health as a whole: mental, emotional, physical. You don't make healthy choices, you won't get healthy consequences. Toothache? Preventable. Bad eyes? Look at what might be the cause: too much or too little of something. Feeling sick? Realize that what you put inside your body has an effect on the way you feel. What you put inside your mind has even bigger results. Health care isn't about helping people, it's a business & it's about money. If you pay for your health care, make sure you tell them that you expect to get what you pay for.

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Donnuts 5 years ago

This policy also enslaves the general public to stay at one company for the most of their lives to acquire insurance or any kind of medical coverage when in other places they are free to move from job to job without worries of medical coverage. It also discourages people from joining companies that don't have the initial revenue to start with such packages. The bigger corporations protect themselves with writing store policies that revolve around protecting the companies from any liability to personal damages or general health concerns. It also makes it so that companies can make more money off their employees and people are less likely to go to small stores and shop with giant companies. Thus cutting out the small business owner any way they can whilst the general public harasses other people about their sex lives and personal belongings much like the contemporary fads and trends promote people thinking they need to do. "Aren't you a monkey?...where's your banana??" "Here look at me I can ride a grocery cart into a parking meter." "when is Beavis and Butthead on?" "I don't know nothing about it."

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Donnuts 5 years ago

the burden of paying for health care insurance for employees is great for small businesses in comparison to large corporations. It is a graphic illustration of how the laws of the U.S. do need to change.

Say I own a small business like a dry cleaners, or custom cabinet shop that makes fine wood cabinets, or fine clothes manufacturer. I have 10 employees. The salary I pay my employees will be swallowed up by trying to buy them insurance. Instead of paying them $15- $20 an hour I would have to pay them $10- $12 an hour to make up for the loss of having to buy them each individual insurance plans, and they would need individual ones. Would you cover them all if you had a diabetic among them? The burden on the business owner would be astronomical.

McDonald's or Wal- Mart don't have to struggle with small trivial things like that. They as well as being able to cover most all the employees could as well afford the pay rate that they presently pay at. They could probably cover people of all kinds without problems but they don't. There is no retirement rate for McDonald's employees.

I know lots of people are anti- big government but it is better than corporate America running our lives and ruining them as well.

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Donnuts 5 years ago

But Brett... why put the burden on small business owners and employers to pay for insurance on 10 people when they are already about to go under because of a bad economy. It would be a great part of a stimulus package for small businesses to start.

I could start a lawn care company and if they got injured at work; they would be covered. See?

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Donnuts 5 years ago

I would start with free walk in clinics that could give referrals to specialists that you presently have to have a regular physician see you for.

I imagine that in Europe, Canada and England you have it with the taxes you pay much like we pay for the roads. In this country for some reason we protect corporations freedom above individual safety and sanctity. The more money is spent on limiting the freedoms of people and allowing companies to make mistakes or do things on purpose to endanger people.

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