Universal health care.
Health care reform.
Socialized health insurance.
There are a lot of ideas floating around right now about what’s wrong with our health system, and what we need to do to make it work. We probably all know someone that either got hit hard financially because of medical expenses, or they got hit hard physically, because of malpractice or negligence in our health care system.
I have some serious doubts about any real change any time soon in our system. Here’s why.
Take a look at this word cloud from a discussion about health care on Change.gov:
What I see is “insurance, system, health, need, medical, healthcare…” I don’t see anything like “prevention, lifestyle change, education, transparency, personal responsibility…”
We spend over two and a half trillion dollars a year on health costs, 16% of our GDP, and yet we rank lower on overall health statistics than many other nations (according to WHO). Where do we even begin with health care reform? Doesn’t it start at home?
I did some research about the issues, and what I found made my head hurt. Read some of these and see if any of it makes sense to you:
- New Survey: 82 Percent of Americans Think Health Care System Needs Major Overhaul “One in three adults report their doctors ordered a test that had already been done or recommended unnecessary treatment or care in the past two years. Adults across all income groups reported experiencing inefficient care. And, eight in ten adults across income groups supported efforts to improve the health system’s performance with respect to access, quality and cost.”
- Health Insurers Back Universal Coverage “AHIP’s board of directors is responding to the concerns of the American people by offering a workable solution to ensure that no one is left out of the healthcare system because of their health, age, income or employment status.” Hmmm… Who is AHIP?
- AHIP is an insurance company lobbying group, made up of insurance company CEOs. “AHIP launched the Campaign for an American Solution in Columbus, OH on July 22nd, 2008. The Campaign is billed as a grassroots campaign and listening tour to “build support for workable health care reform based on core principles supported by the American people: coverage, affordability, quality, value, choice and portability” Not exactly grassroots.
- Health Insurers See ”Universal” Opportunity “They see universal health care, which could turn 46 million uninsured Americans into potential customers, as their next big opportunity.”
- What Government Does Better: Health Care “Our mammoth government-run health insurance company (Medicare) operates at a fraction of the cost of private insurance corporations such as Aetna, Cigna, United, Blue Shield Blue Cross, Kaiser Permanente and Humana. Medicare, the government health insurance for the elderly uses only 1-2% of your dollar to achieve rates of morbidity (sickness) and mortality (death) among their patients which are identical to those of the private health insurance corporations.”
- Single-Payer National Health Insurance “Under a single-payer system, all Americans would be covered for all medically necessary services, including: doctor, hospital, long-term care, mental health, dental, vision, prescription drug and medical supply costs. Patients would regain free choice of doctor and hospital, and doctors would regain autonomy over patient care.”
- Health Care: It’s Time for a Major Overhaul “At the heart of the AHIP proposal is a deal whereby insurers would accept all comers regardless of prior conditions, but only if there is a federal mandate for universal coverage.”
- Many Experts Say Health-Care System Inefficient, Wasteful “”Our health-care system is fraught with waste,” says Gary Kaplan, chairman of Seattle’s cutting-edge Virginia Mason Medical Center. As much as half of the $2.3 trillion spent today does nothing to improve health, he says.”
- Physician Workforce Crisis? Wrong Diagnosis, Wrong Prescription “Rather than treat the symptoms, we should focus on the underlying disease — a largely disorganized and fragmented delivery system characterized by lack of coordination, incomplete patient information, poor communication, uneven quality, and rising costs.”
- Health Care for America Now “We believe that all of us benefit from healthy communities, where we all have access to affordable, quality healthcare from a provider of our choice, at the time we need it, at a cost we can afford. Our mutual goal is affordable, quality health care for everyone in America and for our nation.”
- Health Insurance Companies Agree to Cover Everyone If… “The industry wants Congress to require all Americans to buy one of their policies under the terms and at a price the insurers set. The industry says this type of ‘individual mandate’ is needed to keep healthy people from delaying buying health insurance until they get sick.”
- What Does Health Care “Reform” Mean? How Soon Can We Get There? “By delivering captive customers to for-profit insurers, drug-makers, device-makers , equipment makers and for-profit hospitals, we fund the lobbyists who will fight meaningful reform.”
- 10 Facts on the Global Burden of Disease “At least 80% of premature deaths from cardiovascular heart disease and strokes could be prevented through a healthy diet, regular physical activity and avoiding the use of tobacco.”
- Obama’s Health Care Proposal to Force Americans to Buy Bloated Health Insurance (Even if They Don’t Need It!) “We save $500 / month or more by NOT purchasing health insurance. Instead, we use that money invest in health support by purchasing health supplements, superfoods and other things that prevent disease and keep us healthy!”
What I want to know is “When are we going to talk about health, not health care?” If we have better health, we need less care, right? Think what the savings in time, money, and energy we would have in this country if our health was improved even 20%. Investing in our bodies, in our lives, in our own health, seems to be the real reform needed.
It looks to me that the boondoggle of health care reform is more of a political platform than a practical solution.
Am I wrong?
Image: Change.gov under Creative Commons License