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Healthcare reform should not benefit only insurance companies - Comments (0)
Carole McWilliams - 6/19/2009
I do not like it either, but it seems to be time for another rant about health care reform.
Congress is busy with it, going through huge contortions to avoid the actual solution and preserve as much as possible of the current dysfunctional system that is the most expensive in the world.
We would not want to hurt insurance and drug company profits, would we? Unfortunately, that seems to be a higher priority than helping all Americans get the actual health care they need.
Both Democrats and Republicans have focused on mandating that we all buy insurance or our employers buy it for us. Somehow they refer to that as the government “providing” universal insurance.
Any mandate has all sorts of complications, namely what if any mandates would be imposed on health insurers as part of the deal. No doubt those would hurt profits.
President Obama wants a government insurance plan to compete with private insurers. Republicans of course are totally opposed. Again that could hurt insurance company profits.
And so far, the whole debate seems to have ignored the reality that access to insurance is not the same as access to actual health care.
Ask anyone who has moved to the county in the past couple years and has insurance. Because of a shortage of primary care doctors, they often can’t find a doctor who will see them.
Ask anyone who has insurance only to find that the insurer will not cover their treatment or diagnostic test. National Public Radio recently reported that in 2007, 60 percent of personal bankruptcies were related to medical bills, and most of those people had health insurance!
I would not assume a government alternative insurance plan would guarantee actual health care either, especially if like Medicare it reimburses doctors so poorly that they won’t take those patients.
Now there is a bipartisan proposal to create regional non-profit health care cooperatives based on rural electric coops. I’m open to learning more about the pros and cons of those.
But basically I support a single payer system. The countries that have single payer spend far less per capita on health care than we do, so I question claims that single payer would be unaffordable. What we have now is unaffordable.
Critics cry socialism. Single payer means one government run insurance system, not government owned and run health care.
Critics raise the specter of health care rationing. We already have that. But the choice of whether to buy food or an expensive medicine, or whether to pay the mortgage or pay for an expensive (but potentially lifesaving) diagnostic test is up to the individual, so it is the American Way. Self-reliance and all that.
There seem to be competing data sets on single payer. One set says it works well even if it is not perfect. The other says people die waiting for care, or they travel to the U.S. and pay for care.
We need an objective review of the competing statistics, and of what works and what doesn not in the various versions of single payer. Do the people in those countries pay more in taxes for single payer than Americans pay for private insurance, and the things private insurance will not cover?
But Congress is falling all over itself to avoid this and look out for insurance (and drug) company interests. Maybe that is how it has to be.
My prediction is that mandated private insurance will be the tipping point for Americans to demand a single payer system. You heard it here first.
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