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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.”


Chris Ogle 9 years, 1 month 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???

classclown 9 years, 1 month 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.

Richard Heckler 9 years, 1 month 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.

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.

John Spencer 9 years, 1 month 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.

SettingTheRecordStraight 9 years, 1 month ago

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

HermioneElliott 9 years, 1 month 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.

dajudge 9 years, 1 month 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.

always_correct 9 years, 1 month 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?

ms_canada 9 years, 1 month 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!!!

Tom McCune 9 years, 1 month 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.

sgtwolverine 9 years, 1 month 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.

Bob Harvey 9 years, 1 month 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 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.

ms_canada 9 years, 1 month 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.

HermioneElliott 9 years, 1 month 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.

RoeDapple 9 years, 1 month 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..................

RoeDapple 9 years, 1 month ago

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

sgtwolverine 9 years, 1 month 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.

Polly_Gomer 9 years, 1 month ago

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

Liberty one is a TROLL, pay it no mind.

RoeDapple 9 years, 1 month 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...............

purplesage 9 years, 1 month 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?

sgtwolverine 9 years, 1 month ago

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


Bob Forer 9 years, 1 month 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.

dajudge 9 years, 1 month 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.

ms_canada 9 years, 1 month 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???

Tom McCune 9 years, 1 month ago


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

Flap Doodle 9 years, 1 month ago

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

ms_canada 9 years, 1 month 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."

sourpuss 9 years, 1 month 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.

RedwoodCoast 9 years, 1 month 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.

tonymontana 9 years, 1 month ago

ms. canada

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

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