Thursday, June 4, 2009

Dr. Brenner's Prescription for Change - Part 2

Before I get into the details of my health care plan, I'd like to resolve some myths about health care.

1. America has the best health care in the world so we shouldn't mess with it. FALSE. We rank far below the rest of the "developed" world in life expectancy and infant mortality. We spend more than any other country as a percentage of the GDP, but we have approximately 15% of the population (47 million) uninsured.

Those who have insurance increasingly find it doesn't protect them when they need it most. And those who have tons of money still discover that they can suffer from hospital diversion (no free beds in hospital so ambulances are "diverted" away), nurse shortages, defensive medicine and lack of on-call specialists. Not everyone is affected in the same way, but everyone IS affected and has a stake in making the system work better.

To be fair, I think the medical training and the medical technology innovations in America ARE the best in the world. But those successes shouldn't delude us into thinking that just because we are the destination place to train physicians, that our health care system is the best.

2. If we reform health care we will be left with socialized medicine. FALSE. If you say a lie often enough people start to believe it as truth. Nevertheless, it is still a lie.

First of all, we don't have free markets right now. Why? Because we subsidize insurance companies (and their shareholders) with tax-payers money.

a) Medicare, in particular, covers the "undesirables" that private insurers don't want. These people use a lot of resources and cost lots of money. By not having them in the risk pool, private insurers earn billions of our tax dollars through cost savings. If it were truly a free-market, ALL americans would be in the private insurer risk pool.

b) Employer paid insurance is not subject to taxation. The lowered tax burden is less money into the government coffers and thus indirectly subsidizes the purchase of health insurance offered by (mostly) for profit health insurance companies.

c) Employer-controlled health insurance is not a free-market. People can't decide exactly what kind of health plan they want. They have to pick amongst a limited number of choices. What kind of system tells you that you have a choice, but you MUST choose from this very limited menu? This happens under a dictatorship, communism and socialism.

Yes, you heard me right. I am comparing our CURRENT SYSTEM to the dreaded communists and socialists. So anyone who tries to say they don't want socialized medicine MUST reform the current system. What we have now IS socialized medicine, where the only beneficiaries are the shareholders of the very profitable insurance companies.

My next health care reform blog will go into more details about what works, what kinda works and what is failing.

1 comment :

  1. Your infant mortality statement is not comparing apples to apples. In the US we jump through hoops to save all babies that are born with a pulse. In countries with National, Universal, Government run Healthcare, if they feel a baby is not "viable" they do nothing and do not use such births in their "infant mortality". Our life expectancy ids a result of our diet, lack of exercise and no incentive to take ownership of our lifestyles and health. Our government inspires us to rely on it!!! For all our needs!!

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