It’s become an old saw that if the government were to offer universal health care there would be health care rationing.
But health care rationing already exists. It’s called how much and what kind of insurance do you have or how much money do you have.
The pool of those not covered by employer-sponsored group plans and not eligible for government plans already offered to the poor and elderly or disabled is getting bigger in this distressed economy.
It is also argued that government-sponsored universal health care is terribly expensive – and the current system isn’t???
Back when the economy was humming along and larger numbers of folks had employer-paid plans the costs were high (and getting higher), but the employers passed much of those costs along to the public through the prices they charged for products and services. So nearly everyone was affected by health care costs even though not all enjoyed the benefits.
And I don’t dismiss concerns about rationing or increased cost efficiencies that would not be as consumer friendly as people might want. Some time ago I went through a round of chemo therapy. I was fortunate enough to have insurance. And I was also fortunate that the doctor’s office where I received my chemo was about a five-minute drive from home. I could easily see that under a government plan (this is just theoretical) it might be decided that it was inefficient to have too many chemo centers and that folks would have to go to one central one. I might have to drive, say, to Sacramento, which is about three hours away.
I also had a CT scan, again about five or ten minutes from home. And I think there is more than one facility here in town that does this. Under government insurance it might be decided that such was inefficient, again, off to Sacramento??
So, you see, I understand the rationing argument or concept. I would hope that universal health care could be offered that would be consumer friendly. I think current costs and the fact that so many people are being priced out of the market might eventually lead to more efficiencies anyway.
The bottom line should be to provide the best possible health care we can to all. I have also always written that I realize that there is no free lunch, or no free health care I should say. In some way it has to be paid for.
Interestingly the health care industry is spooked enough it is trying to jump on the bandwagon for health care reform (well in rhetoric at least). Apparently they see that public mood and political power is arrayed in such a fashion that the industry might not be able to forever forestall reform (make no mistake, it does not want reform – too much profit is involved) so it is going forward with the strategy that if you can’t beat reform, join the reform movement. I’d be a little suspicious of this.
It’s kind of like letting the bankers run the government bank bailout program (as they seem to be doing with their man Geithner in place).
If true reform and universal health care can come out of all of this, I say fine.
But I think everyone is making things too complicated. I say continue with private insurance for those who are willing and able to pay, military benefits too, and offer Medicare to the rest. The program is already in place and quite popular. And folks still buy private supplements.
Yes it will cost. It already does. But we either pay lots of money so fewer are covered or we pay lots of money so all are covered.
The reason health care reform seems to be getting more attention now is that so many folks who thought they would never have to worry since they had jobs and group plans that went along with them now are worried because they have lost their jobs (or fear they will) or health care plans or both or are just being priced out of the market due to never-ending premium increases.
If private enterprise could truly offer workable and affordable plans that would be good. But it’s hard to cover people via private plans if those people do not have jobs or high enough paying jobs to pay the premiums. And as I have blogged before, so what happens when you lose your job and still need the insurance you can no longer afford to pay?
I have always had moral misgivings about health care for profit. The ambulance rolls up and the first thing they need to see is your insurance card, not your condition (I’m not saying that really happens, but that is the bottom line, isn’t it? I have seen that much effort and expense in doctor’s offices and hospitals is expended in the name of medical insurance).
But there is also a contention that the profit motive in health care and medicine in the USA makes this nation a leader in innovation because of the incentive of profits.
Nonetheless, I think that it is only right that we come up with a universal health care system and I criticize all congressmen and senators for dragging their feet for so many years.
There does seem to be some real movement under President Obama’s leadership. While I applaud him for getting help (if it is help) from the health care industry itself, I hope he does not let them steal the show.