Monday, February 11, 2008

Government Controlled / Universal Health Care

My first post on branching out on SoxyLady....

I have never been interested in politics.

I have voted and taken advantage of that liberty, but I didn't follow politics on a regular basis...neither did my friends. This year, however, I've noticed a lot more of my friends, family and acquaintances are big into the politicians and the elections.

I would say 8/10 people I know and talk to are planning to vote for either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. What a great time to be an American, being able to vote for either our first black President, or first woman President!!! We can make history! Now before I go any further, let me state I do not consider myself a Democrat or Republican. I am not a fan of Hillary, Barack or John McCain. I am not pushing for any one candidate. What I've decided to do was take a look at some of the bigger issues and see where I stand on them.

The first is the Government Controlled / Universal health care. Health care in America sucks right now. I don't think anyone will argue that. Since 2000 every one of our premiums have at least doubled, the cost of prescriptions after insurance is ridiculous. Doctors are leaving medicine because of the cost of malpractice insurance. And, as my sister-in-law to be pointed out, how much of our expense can be attributed to people who go to the emergency room instead of a doctor, because they can't afford insurance? Why wouldn't every single American jump on board for some sort of change?

Looking into it -
A lot of those people who go to the emergency room, instead of the doctors, are illegal immigrants. They go to the ER not only b/c they can't afford health insurance but because they can't get it. So do you think people who are in the country illegally should be able to have the same insurance, provided by the government, as those of us who pay taxes? I am a supporter of immigration, I am not a supporter of illegal immigration.

George Bush has tried to pass a frivolous law suit act for the past 7 years. This would protect those doctors from frivolous malpractice suits, but it has been voted against - and Barack Obama is one of the people who voted against it. (and trust me, I am NOT a fan of George).

I totally agree we need a change in the system, but nationalizing the health insurance system would be wrong. The doctors would have to agree to the stipulated fee for services, as set by the government. Many doctors won't do that b/c they can't afford to - which will shut down a lot of practices. This is currently a major problem with Blue Cross and Blue Shield (which I have). So not only will we have to go to the doctors the government tells us to, but we'll have to wait longer to see them b/c there will be less doctors available.

Here is some more information on the health care in Canada (which has a system very similar to those proposed by some of our Presidential candidates):

I urge each and every one of you to watch this video and to read this article:

I am not campaigning for one President or another. I just want to make sure, we as the future of America, are educated enough to choose the right Presidential candidate. Don't vote b/c you want to make "history" or because someone is an extremely eloquent speaker who makes you "believe." Believe when they talk about the issues and how they are going to fix them.

Please, comment back on this post - dispute what I've written, agree with it, whatever - I'm trying to get everyone to be as informed as possible before voting in November. I don't have a solution for the healthcare "crisis" - I am just urging you not to jump on the boat of Universal healthcare just because you think we need a change. Understand what it will do to our country first.


robin said...

Looking into it - A lot of those people who go to the emergency room, instead of the doctors, are illegal immigrants. They go to the ER not only b/c they can't afford health insurance but because they can't get it. So do you think people who are in the country illegally should be able to have the same insurance, provided by the government, as those of us who pay taxes? I am a supporter of immigration, I am not a supporter of illegal immigration.

I agree with you, as far as illegals using the ER goes. But, what would happen under different plans? Do you just not let illegal folks get health care? That's fairly ridiculous in the real world.

Also, remember that I work for a prevention program. One that Barack has supported. One that, in independent studies, shows savings to government and society of about $17,000 per family. One that the UK govt is now integrating into their national health care scheme. Here in the US, it's integrated on a site-by-site basis, because of all the differences between sites. Wouldn't it be wonderful if all the needy folks could be served so easily?

Does health care need to be reformed? Abso-freakin'-lutely. Does national health care have its problems? Sure. But so does the current system. My family currently pays over $2k per year for insurance. The drugs I'm on cost about $450/month without it. Without taking into account the copays for medical appointments, never mind preventive care, that's a difference of over $3500. Thank DOG I can afford the insurance.

So, if you don't like national health insurance, what do you suggest?

robin said...

And on frivolous lawsuits:

"Here in Illinois, both Democratic Senators Barack Obama, and Richard Durbin elected not to vote on those bills, so I decided to write them. I have since received responses from them both, and they defend their stance against MCAP as being only one avenue for change. Senator Obama believes the way to tackle medical malpractice is to promote a policy of full disclosure of medical errors with thorough analysis and intervention, apologies for such errors to the patient, and early compensation for injury. With this in mind, Senators Obama and Hillary Clinton introduced to Congress in September 2005; bill S.1784, entitled Medical Error Disclosure and Compensation (MEDiC) Act. According to Senator Obama, this system of openness has helped to cut in half the number of suits filed in the University of Michigan Health System, which has implemented similar reform. Click here for more information on Bill S.1784 at The Library of Congress. 22

In addition, both IL Senators support Senator Patrick Leahy's (D-Vermont) bill, S.1525, entitled Medical Malpractice Insurance Antitrust Act in July of 2005. S.1525, aims to end the protection allotted to medical liability insures provided by the McCarran-Ferguson Act of 1945. That law currently provides medical liability insurers a special exemption under insurance law, allowing them a veil of secrecy to engage in price fixing and market allocations. S.1525 aims to prevent collusion of prices and bring the cost of coverage down by shining light on the situation.23 For more information see Senator Leahy's description of Bill S.1525 Since the bills' introduction in July and Sept of 2005, they have been passed onto subcommittees and we must wait to see what will become of them."


Don't look at just the vote itself; look at the bill they were voting on.

Soxy Lady said...

"So, if you don't like national health insurance, what do you suggest?"

That's just it - I don't have an answer - it's not my job to find one. But I don't think the national insurance is it, and it is my responsibility to learn about the issues when voting for the people who DO have to find that answer.

The amount you and I pay for insurance and monthly prescriptions is out of control. SOMETHING needs to change. But what are you going to do when you feel you are having issues with your Thyroid and instead of getting an endocrinologist appointment next week, you have to wait 8 months for one? And not even and endocrinologist of your choice, but of one you HAVE to see because the government tells you it's who you have to see?

These are exactly the comments I wanted people to post - so thank you and keep 'em coming!

Soxy Lady said...

Response from my friend, Andrew - who has obviously put a lot of time into this particular issue:

It is also not my job to fix the system - but several things can be done immediately to help our system.

1) Focus on prevention - seeing that many 'new' diseases are spreading at a rapid rate due to our unhealthy lifestyles (more high calorie/low nutrition foods, less movement in our society) it would make sense to save on the millions of dollars that we spend on diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and bone and joint pains. It is fully feasible to address the 80% of Americans who experience low back pain in their lives with simple stretches and core strengthening exercises. In 5 years as a trainer and in the fitness industry, success rates for people with back pain alone are astonishing when they develop and maintain these routines. THEREFORE - we cut out millions on costs with people NOT going to the doctor for back pain PREVENTION not REACTION. Next we have to address marketing of our foods - if drugs have to have disclaimers on television of side effects, so too should McDonalds and other fast foods that often give the daily amount of calories one needs in a a DAY in one MEAL! It should warn about the high levels of fat, sugar and especially sodium levels on TV. People need to not just know it is bad for them but be REMINDED that the $7 extra value meal they eat every other day is going to cost them $400 a month in drugs 20 years down the line when they develop high blood pressure and cholesterol, not to mention diabetes.

So again we focus our medicinal system on PREVENTION of unhealthy lifestyles. The only way this works is to back it with $$$$. Doctors need to earn bonuses when patients reduce blood pressure or ease diabetes, they need pay for performance. Too often doctors say 'lose weight' but do not give any information about how to do it. Fitness/Wellness needs to merge with Medicine because one of the 1 things you can do for almost ANY medical malady from blood pressure to depression is freaking exercise people! Why don't we put less of a premium on fast food and more of a premium on lowering unhealthy levels of lipids in all people. Prevention means changing the way we market health care, the message we send to the people of the United States, it means changing the message of the medical industry (or amplifying it) and having employers buy into this as well. Exercise and health is not something that you should be forced into, but if it was more readily available (time and afford ability) and you have all your friends peer pressuring you into doing it (like they do to go the bar/dinner) then maybe we could pull it off....

2) Paperless system - the physical cost of paper and files, and the administration and personnel needed to maintain it is dramatic and going with a universal health information system would help doctors coordinate and keep a constant eye on a patients' record. But "it is not right for people to spy on our health files.....i want my health to be private.....we could create a system that is there like FICO scores, that can only be checked by hospitals/doctors with your written and or verbal consent - do you have access to your credit score....yes....can you change it......indirectly yes but really no......its based on FACTS of your repayment history (using FACTS loosely in some cases) and is objective. We could create a PUBLIC/PRIVATE company whose sole job it is to house these files electronically. This agency could be similar to how the financial markets use Fannie Mae and Ginnie Mae to influence secondary markets in mortgages.

These are achievable baby steps -

immigration is not going to get better people- it will most likely remain the same - we will have to deal with immigrants into the future. That is not something we can change right NOW.

We can change.....It will help if the NORM in America is a body of people that is health conscience and fairly fit. Currently our NORMAL is 64% overweight, 31% obese, childhood obesity levels doubling in the past 5 years, if one parent is overweight there is a 60% chance their child will be overweight, if both parents are overweight then it jumps to 86%. WAKE UP PEOPLE - SPREAD THE WORD - if you want better health - get healthy. Common sense there - but if it was common then we would have many less problems in America.

My suggestion
1) give diabetics, obese people, people with high blood pressure, people with high triglycerides, people with high cholesterol etc weekly meetings through their insurance companies bills - the meetings teach them about healthy lifestyles and hold them accountable - people link up through their insurance to form local groups of 3-5 people with similar goals and they go on walks or bike rides in the evenings/weekends. Doctors prescribe this to people and check on how they progress - and insurance companies enjoy higher profit because they have to pay for less procedures down the road. People have better results if they 1) have a support system 2) learn about health and fitness 3) have accountability. Many ways this could be used - but building networking systems (with your permission of course) at a local level is small and manageable.

2) paperless universal health care records - just because I switch from Blue Cross to Cigna, why do I have to rebuild a medical file with my new doctor - if I have had a file built with my old doctor for 28 years? Why can't they just see that file that my doctor built for me in the first 1/3 of my life? If I don't want that to happen - I don't have to give my permission - but save some trees and some money for all of us.

Thank you for reading my rant - but few great civilizations were ended by force from the outside, most of them deteriorated from within before succumbing (in a weakened state) to outside forces. America is becoming unhealthier every year, we are going farther into debt as a whole we are losing our 'edge' in global innovation, our medical system is awful, real estate prices are insane, the division of wealth is widening, we have less and less time each year for what is truly important to us.....if this is not the deterioration of a great empire, then can you tell me how it is not?

My response to Andrew's comments:
WOW! What a great response, Andrew!

I agree with a lot of what you're saying. But this part: "So again we focus our medicinal system on PREVENTION of unhealthy lifestyles. The only way this works is to back it with $$$$."

Where does this money come from? Are you comfortable with our taxes increasing by 10% to help cover these costs?

There is some good conversation going on here, people. In response to Andrew's Comment, Robin and I had a small chat on IM

robin: Obama's planning on paying for his plan by letting the Bush rich folks tax cuts end.

sarah: but those "rich folks" pay 75% of the taxes as is - so it will hurt the economy more than help it.

robin: The economy is hurting pretty badly right now with the tax cuts.
So, end the war and the trillions of dollars we're spending on it.

sarah:true, it's all cyclical though. and we aren't in a recession. we haven't had two quarters of losses. (and i agree about the war)

robin:No, but we're gonna talk ourselves into one pretty quick here.

jacksmith said...

Bottom Line:

It looks like you got some vote fraud hanky-panky, and selling of votes going on in the democratic caucuses. Obama seems to be doing disproportionately well in the caucuses where it is easier to commit vote fraud, and sell votes. Obama has not been doing as well in the non caucus primary's where you can't cheat the vote as easily.

I smell a pole cat. I smell the Karl Rove vote fraud machine at work. This looks like past presidential elections where most voters leaving the poles said they voted for the other guy. But Bush still won. No wonder Obama thinks the republicans have some good ideas. Apparently a lot of republicans are voting for Obama in the democratic caucuses.

The insurance companies, and medical industry that have been ripping you off, and killing you are determined to keep you, the American people from having good universal health care. So it seems they are supporting Obama. Along with the republican vote fraud machine.

This looks like a great story for a team of aggressive investigative reporters. Or maybe some good documentary film makers like Michael Moore, or Oliver Stone.

If I were the Clinton's, I would focus like a laser bean on what has been going on in the democratic caucuses. No wonder the Republicans like Obama so much. Looks like he's their man in the democratic caucuses.

I'm absolutely convinced now that Hillary Clinton is your best choice for good universal health care coverage. And HR 676 (Medicare For All). "Single payer, Tax Supported, Not For Profit, True Universal Health Care" free for all as a right. Like every other developed country in the world has. See:

"HR 676:
For church goers: less money to insur. companies and more to the church- lots more.
Srs on Medicare: save way over $100/wk. Because no more medigap, long term care & dental insur. needed. No more drug bills."

They really think you are all stupid, inattentive cash cows... It may be time to bring back Bad Bill, Good Bill.

Dave G said...

My wife and I had to go to the ER in Germany and it was the most amazing, well-run system I've ever seen in my life. It made me realize that our system is a national embarrassment. I wrote about the experience here.

Here's why the system fails:
The young and healthy, who don't use health insurance as much, drop out. This shrinks the pool of payers and increases the premiums. This raises the cost for more people and more people drop out. This raises the cost even more so more people drop out. It's a death spiral.

Requiring everyone to pay into one national health care system lowers the cost and focuses attention on prevention rather than emergency care. This system works in every industrial country except out own.

We now have 44 million people who do not have health insurance. 12,000 Americans die every year because they can't afford health insurance. It's a travesty. If it works in Canada, England, Germany, France, Spain, Japan, Norway, Sweden, and Australia, why wouldn't it work here?

John said...

i would like to first applaud you for the research you have done on this complex subject. However, I would ask you to find the bias of the writers. The writers of the links you posted as conservatives who are against national health care.

Next, illegal immigrants are not the only ones who use the ER for their primary health care. It is also used by the poor who are citizens of our country.

finally, imho, the way to reform health care is to first have malpractice reform that will not shield bad doctors from maiming or killing innocent patients. The other is reining in the advertising budgets of drug companies. They spend billions yearly lavishing doctors with gifts so that they will use thier products.

Anonymous said...

Oh SoxyLady,

You even make politics soxy!

You minx!


Your secret "soxy" admirer

Respectfully... said...

Here are two twists on the conversation.

First, I have a problem with the semantics of the debate, whenever I see an article in the paper or a story on TV. People seem to use "healthcare" and "health insurance" too interchangeably. Soxy Lady says in her opening comments that US healthcare sucks. No, it's pretty good. I agree that PAYING for it sucks.... and it sucks that our health care costs are increasing at astronomical rates.

- ps I just read an article where an older fellow found the hospital receipt from his birth. I think it was in the 1930's. $71.

My second point is that over 20% of all medical expense in the US is spent during the last year of a patient's life. This becomes a very emotional topic, because we all want everything done to prolong the life of our loved-ones. But I also speak from experience, as my beloved 86 yr old grandmother had a stroke 2 years ago. For 3 days she was in intensive care at a cost I cannot even imagine. The doctors said that if she came out of her coma, she would very likely be vegetated, and almost certainly have to live in a nursing home for her remaining years. Very sadly, she passed away. I never saw the hospital bill, but it must have been enormous.

AIDS drugs cost thousands of $ per month. Intensive care is thousands per day. Lipitor? Liver transplant, etc. Child birth is something we've done FOREVER, and what does it cost today? Our research is amazing, but the costs follow.

I am a very free-market kind of guy, but my feeling is that we need a single-payer system to cover 'routine' expenses like physical exams, preventive care as you've all mentioned, maternity costs, and most basic health needs. (and someone tell Hizzoner Menino to let CVS open $%! clinics if they want to!)

We also need a very serious medical board that has the will power to NOT cover every last expense that our wonderful scientists can discover.

I don't think we have the kind of political will-power that such decisions will take. Unfortunately, therefore I don't think we'll ever solve the problem.