An American Universal Health Care System

Health Care System Needs Reform, Not a Government Takeover

Believe it or not, America boasts some of the world’s best doctors, the most advanced health care system, and the most technically superior resources in the world, bar none. Those who travel globally and have gotten sick know that their first choice for treatment would be in the U.S. Though health care in America is, more expensive than any other country, many of the worlds wealthiest come to the U.S for surgical procedures and complex care, because it holds a worldwide reputation for the gold standard in health care.

To examine the complex health care issue, a small research study was conducted from randomly selected doctors in a best doctors database. We ask 50 top doctors, located in different states and who practice different specialty fields, ” Is a universal health care plan good for America?” Forty-eight of these doctors essentially responded that it was a “bad idea” that would have negative impacts on the quality of our nation’s health care.

Social Engineering Medicine

One of the greatest mis-conceptions some people have relied on with regard to the health care debate is that, given a universal health care system, every person in the U.S. would receive the highest quality health care – the kind our nation is renowned for and that we currently receive. However, unlike some public amenities, health care is not a collective public service like police and fire protection services, therefore the Government cannot provide the same quality of health care to everyone, because not all physicians are equally good orthopedic surgeons, internists, neurosurgeons, etc, in the same way that not all individuals in need of health care are equally good patients.

As an analogy – stay with me – when you design a software program, there are many elements that are coded on the back-end, and used to manipulate certain aspects of the software program, that your average “John Doe” who uses the software (the end user) does not understand or utilize, nor do they care about these elements. Certain aspects of the program are coded, so that when one uses that portion of the program, other elements of the program are manipulated and automatically follow the present or next command.

Likewise, once a universal care plan is implemented in America and its massive infrastructure is shaped, private insurance companies will slowly disappear, and as a result, eventually patients will automatically be forced to utilize the government’s universal health care plan. As part of such a system, patients will be known as numbers rather than patients, because such a massive government program would provide compensation incentive based on care provided, patients would become “numbers,” rather than “patients.” In addition, for cost savings reasons, every bit of health information, including your own, will be analyzed, and stored by the Government. What are the consequences? If you’re a senior citizen and need a knee replacement at the age of 70, the government may determine that you’re to old and it’s not worth the investment cost, therefore instead of surgery, you may be given medication for the rest of your life at a substantial cost savings to the government, and at a high quality of life price to you.

Solutions:

Fixing the current U.S. health care system might require that we;

1. Encourage prevention and early diagnosis of chronic conditions and management.
2. Completely reform existing government are programs, including Medicare and Medicaid.
3. Forgive medical school debt for those willing to practice primary care in under-served areas.
4. Improve access to care, provide small businesses and the self-employed with tax credits, not penalties for providing health care.
5. Encourage innovation in medical records management to reduce costs.
6. Require tort reform in medical malpractice judgments to lower the cost of providing care.
7. Keep what isn’t broken-research shows 80% of Americans are happy with their current insurance, therefore, why completely dismantle it?
8. Reimburse physicians for their services.
9. Innovate a system in which Medicare fraud is dramatically decreased.

Devil In the Details

Socialized medicine means:

1. Loss of private practice options, reduced pay for physicians, overwhelming numbers of patients, and increasing burn-out may reduce the number of doctors pursuing the profession.

2. Patient confidentiality will need to be compromised, since centralized health information will be maintained by the government and it’s databases.

3. Healthy people who take care of themselves will pay for the burden of those with unhealthy lifestyles, such as those who smoke, are obese, etc.

4. Patients lose the incentive to stay healthy or aren’t likely to take efforts to curb their prescription drug costs because health care is free and the system can easily be abused.

5. The U.S. Government will need to call the shots about important health decisions dictating what procedures are best for you, rather than those decisions being made by your doctor(s), which will result in poor individualized patient care.

6. Tax rates will rise substantially-universal health care is not free since citizens are required to pay for it in the form of taxes.

7. Your freedom of choice will be restricted as to which doctor is best for you and your family.

8. Like all public programs, government bureaucracy, even in the form of health care, does not promote healthy competition that reduces costs based on demand. What’s more, accountability is limited to the budgetary resources available to police such a system.

9. Medicare is subsidized by private insurers to the tune of billions of dollars, therefore if you take them out of the equation, add a trillion dollars or more to the current trillion dollar-plus cost estimates.

10. Currently, the government loses an estimated $ 30 billion a year due to Medicare fraud. Therefore, what makes anyone think that this same government will be able to run & operate a universal health care system that is resistant to fraud and save money while doing so?.

The Smoke and Mirrors of Health Care Reform for the Elderly

I’m deeply concerned that the American public, especially our nation’s elders, will be relying on our government to provide long term care services they’ll never see. They’ll only see the “smoke and mirrors” of Health Care Reform.

Our nation’s seniors are the most vulnerable segment of the U.S. population; vulnerable both health wise and financially. They’re silently discovering the savings they thought would be enough is not enough. They’re silently fearful of running out of money with no one to care for them as they become more frail. The silence is about to become deafening.

Regrettably, when Health Care Reform proudly announced New Long Term Care Services, it discouraged many American’s from purchasing Long Term Care Insurance.

The New York Times reported on ‘Options Expand for Affordable Long-Term Care’ THE NEW OLD AGE. The Associated Press announced ‘New Health Care Law Has Benefits for Seniors’. Point being, the casual reader was relieved to hear their government will “take care of them” when they need long term care services. We now know that is not about to happen.

Fortunately our representatives in Washington discovered that Health Care Reforms answer to the problem of Long Term Care, “CLASS”, (Community Living Assistance Services and Supports Act) legislation would have been fiscally unsound. $70 billion in premiums that was expected to be raised for the new “long term care” program would have been counted as “deficit reduction”. The long term care benefits it was intended to finance were assumed not to materialize in the first 10 years. However, that money was not accounted for anywhere in the legislation.

The new legislation proposed to “trim” $463 billion from Medicare. Yet Medicare is currently having trouble balancing its books today. Yet, why does the health care bill tell us Medicare can operate more cheaply going forward without the accompanying reforms?

Our national media gave enormous fanfare to the CLASS ACT when it passed. Unfortunately the media has given the CLASS ACT’s demise little attention. Now what?

Projections show that the federal deficit is expected to exceed $700 billion annually over the next decade. This essentially will double the national and $900 billion represents interest on previous debt. Would the CFO of any major corporation in the United States allow the company he worked for to end up in this type of financial position? Absolutely not.

Our officials in Congress have been elected to protect the best interests of the American people. “Robbing Peter to pay Paul”, and once again printing more currency, has become our government’s mantra for the future. Yet the magnitude of the mismanagement of America’s purse strings has now reached an unconscionable state.

The United States of America cannot continue to mismanage its financial future. Future Congresses will have to deliver a multitude of future reforms and, regrettably, history tells us THAT will never happen. Proposals for financing health reform were based on more “smoke and mirrors”. The “Cadillac” tax is scheduled to begin in 2018.

The health care legislation that has been forced on each and every one of us is known to be fiscally unsound. Where do we go from here? It’s too easy to point the finger at the President and his administration. Yet Congress owns the responsibility of passing Health Care Legislation. And THAT is the problem.

The 535 voting members of Congress shared the responsibility equally. If one clear thinking, intelligent, honorable Congressman had the entire responsibility for Health Care Reform, he or she would not have forced a fiscally unsound Health Care Reform Bill down our throats.

Now let’s again evaluate how Health Care Reform will work against our senior citizens.

A most recent government report identified that in 2000 there were 1.8 million available nursing home beds. As the year 2010 came to a close, there were 1.7 million nursing home beds; a net 5 percent reduction in available beds. And, there are no new nursing homes being built.

Today there’s less than 1.5 million Americans confined to nursing homes. Reportedly 10 percent of these nursing homes are operating under bankruptcy protection. It’s well known that most of these facilities are understaffed and many don’t have competent help.

Next, let’s consider that the Alzheimer’s Association tells us the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s after age 85 is 50 percent. By 2030, they tell us that the number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s disease is estimated to reach 7.7 million, a 50 percent increase from the 5.2 million age 65 and older currently affected.

The logical question I must ask is “if we cannot take adequate care of 1.5 million people today, how can we possibly take care of 7.7 million people in 2030?” We cannot. More simply put, when you or your spouse or your parent has Alzheimer’s, there is no place for them to go. Not to be cruel, but if you ever think for a moment about taking in an aged parent with Alzheimer’s into your home, please think again. Ask any caregiver who’s been through it. It’s GUARANTEED to destroy any families’ peace of mind and harmony.

Why aren’t our political leaders actively working on solutions? Where’s the outcry? Regrettably our political leaders only align themselves with solvable problems.

America’s seniors became more hopeful reading that Health Reform will help them with added Long Term Care services. And we now know THAT is not going to happen. There are no plans in place to help our nation’s seniors think they’ll receive the comfort and dignity of adequate long term care services. What’s worse is the silence shared by all our political leaders. The silence is now deafening.

Now there’s newfound hope on the horizon. We have a new President election just starting to evolve. What the Republican and Democratic candidates have to say about our nations seniors need for long term care services? What do they think about the need for 7.7 million Americans with Alzheimer’s that need a place to spend the night and be cared for when we can’t take care of 1.5 million seniors today?

The national media needs to start reporting that our nation’s seniors will have no place to spend the night when they become too old or frail to take care of themselves. Then the upcoming election presents one more opportunity for our political leaders to pay attention to our nation’s elderly and their need for long term care services.

Copyright 2016

Allan Checkoway, RHU

Insured vs Uninsured – The Segregation of American Health Care

Everyone, at some time in his or her life, will need to seek medical care. The American health care system is a billion dollar industry, and it discards people that can’t afford its services. The current health care system is divided into two groups–health care for the insured and no health care or limited care for the uninsured. The kind of medical and personal care that an individual receives under the current American health care system depends on the person’s insurance status. In the land of equal opportunity, segregation is still practiced.

It is a well known fact that people that have health insurance receive much better medical and personal treatment from health care providers than people that don’t have health insurance. The insured are treated with dignity and respect. Sadly, the uninsured are treated with indifference and disdain. For uninsured people, obtaining health care can be an extremely demoralizing and frustrating experience.

When a person calls a medical practitioner for an appointment, the first question of the medical office staff is if the person has health insurance. If the person doesn’t have health insurance, the attitude of the office staff changes dramatically. A lot of times the person is asked abrasive and invasive financial questions. Cash payment is requested before the visit will be scheduled, or at the time of the visit prior to services being provided. Some medical offices refuse to provide medical care if there is no health insurance and the person is unable to pay cash in advance. Uninsured people seeking medical care face embarrassment because they cannot pay in full for medical services without benefit of a monthly payment plan. They are made to feel like their health does not matter because they are uninsured.

In some hospitals and physician’s offices, the type of medical care that is rendered to uninsured patients is much different the medical care that is provided to insured patients. During a personal interview with Carolyn Hagan, an uninsured Oregon resident, it was revealed just how shoddily uninsured patients are treated. According to Hagan, because she doesn’t have health insurance, she is unable to obtain the necessary medical care for her heart condition. Hagan stated, “I have so much trouble getting medical care because I am uninsured, and I can’t afford the cost of health insurance. I can’t afford the high cost of the medical tests that I need. None of the doctors will treat me except for occasional brief checkups because I am not profitable to them. Every health insurance company that I contacted to see if I could get insurance refused to insure me because I have heart trouble. I have had to cancel medical tests because funding that I applied for to help with the cost became unavailable. The care that I need is expensive, and it is so frustrating because no one is willing to help me. I feel like no one cares.”

Hagan is a productive American citizen that works and pays taxes, and she is among the working middle class that is wrongfully victimized by the American health care system. Due to health insurance company exclusions, she is not insurable, and she is unable to pay cash in advance for the care that she needs. What the current health care system in America is telling her is that even though she is a hard working American citizen, she doesn’t matter because she can’t help increase the bottom line of the health care industry.

Many practitioners refuse to work with uninsured people, and won’t allow them to pay for medical care on a monthly payment plan. This additional exclusion prevents thousands of Americans from obtaining necessary health care. The American health care system has become so convoluted and expensive that American citizens are forced to seek health care outside the United States. Places like Argentina, Singapore, Manila, Bangalore, and Costa Rica provide high quality, low cost health care to American citizens that America should be providing to its own people.

American society is insurance poor–people are unable to get health insurance. Private insurance policies are too expensive for most people to afford, and the policies that are affordable to people of middle class and lower are frequently inadequate in the medical services that they cover. American insurance companies have exclusions that prevent many people from qualifying for health insurance even though having the insurance would prevent further illness and allow maintenance for current illness, consequently reducing medical costs.

America has some of the best trained medical professionals, and the cost of their education is enormous. No one can expect them not to make a good living at their profession; however, the migration of medical care to countries outside the United States is a glaring indication that the American health care system needs to be revamped and made affordable to everyone.

There have been many attempts at health care reform in America; by the time it finally happens, there might not be enough people seeking medical care in the United States for the reform to make any difference. America will still be health care poor while other countries will be getting rich by providing Americans the health care that America places beyond reach.

© Copyright 2007 Patti McMann. All rights reserved.