By now I am sure most of you have received a packet from your HMO or insurance provider outlining the changes to take effect in 2009. If you have looked them over you probably saw that benefits were cut as much as 50% and co-pays and/or premiums were increased. Many of you will have to spend hours comparing the benefits from other providers before making a decision on which company to go with next year. It gets confusing, doesn’t it? Did you ever wonder why this annual chore is necessary? How simple it would be if there was just one provider and you all paid the same premium regardless of the severity of your medical situation. Even those with good insurance must not be too happy with this broken system now.
Before anyone starts screaming “Socialized Medicine” consider this: The president of the United States, his cabinet, the Congress and Senate all enjoy the single payer medical plan. The military (active duty and retired) also have a single payer plan. The single payer is you, the taxpayer.
When I have a tough decision to make I write two lists. On one list I itemize all of the reasons for taking action and the other list contains all the reasons against doing so.
I then write what will be the consequence if I decide to do the thing and what will be the consequence be if I don’t. Using that logic I will try to itemize all the reasons that are for a single payer health care system (pro) and all the reasons against (con). I will not be able to think of everything and I am asking those of you who read this to add your own thoughts on the subject.
WHAT'S WRONG WITH OUR SYSTEM: (This is the Pro side.)
- The insurance companies now dominate the medical system and, being a business, are only interested in the bottom line. Their motivation is profit and not the welfare of the patient..
- Insurance companies can deny coverage for pre-existing conditions and can deny expensive treatments or medication. They try to take only the healthiest of us.
- The insurance industry can raise premiums and co-pays every year. The annual costs keep rising to obscene levels.
- The cost of paper work necessary for doctors to comply with dozens of different forms from different insurance companies forces the physician to have a large office and a large staff. You and I end up paying for that.
- Because the insurance industries compete with each other, they spend millions on marketing. Health care is a 'for profit' industry and salesmen sell it to you.
- We are just clients and to keep us informed the industry spends additional millions on pamphlets, books and reports that are mailed to us. I received a package that weighs as much as a small dog from my HMO. I am constantly getting something in the mail from my company and each time I think how many trees had to give up their life to furnish the paper for all of this. The postage isn’t free either.
- The Pharmaceutical companies are one of the most profitable industries in existence. The billions they spend on advertising would pay for the medical treatment for thousands of children. You can’t open a magazine or turn on a TV without being bombarded with ads for medicines that require a doctor’s prescription. What's wrong with this picture?
- The pharmaceutical industry claim they need to charge $75 for a pill that costs pennies to make because they need the money for research. If that is why perscriptions cost so much. I think they should be required to spend their profits on research instead of advertising. Isn’t the Federal Government subsidizing them for research and development?
- Both the insurance and pharmaceutical industries spend millions each year on lobbyists. This is disgraceful when people are dying for lack of medical care.
- Hospitals are going broke absorbing the cost of the uninsured who show up in the emergency rooms.
- Businesses like the auto industry have been bankrupted providing health coverage for their employees.
- The United States Government spends more per capita on health care than any other industrialized nation. In spite of that we have the poorest results. 41 countries have a lower infant mortality rate than the U. S.
- 43 Million people under 65 are without any coverage. 8.9% children are without any coverage. Many more have inadquate coverage.
- The total U. S. spending on Health Care in 2007 was $2.3 trillion or $7,600 per person. (From the National Coalition on Health Care site) Please don't tell me we can't do better.
WHY THE U. S. SHOULDN'T CHANGE: (The Con side.)
- After the plan is implemented every single man, woman and child will enjoy good medical attention regardless of income.
- Once the plan is fully changed over the cost of medical care will be far less expensive for the individual and the government.
If we don't simplify our medical system the price will keep increasing until no one will be able to afford coverage. It will not get better and everyone will suffer.
For those people who believe all the myths that you can’t choose your own doctor, you have to wait months for surgery, et. al. in government run programs let me reassure you that none of it is true. The facts do not back those anecdotal stories up.
PBS FRONTLINE aired a program by an investigative journalist who visited other countries that have a Single Payer system. He visited Japan, Switzerland, England and France. (Again, I am relying on memory for the countries. I was unable to find this program in the archives.) Even the doctors in France liked the system because it is so simple for them. They get paid a salary and don’t have the hassles and paper work that our doctors have to endure. He could not find a single person that didn’t like their medical plan. There were different forms of implementing the system and some of them had problems (Most were rising costs. Well, that’s not new to us, is it?) In some cases the patient didn’t even need an appointment; they simply walked in to the doctor’s office.
When one of the countries decided to change to a government run system (I think it was Switzerland) they sent a committee to each country that had the single payer system to study the their plans. They took the best from each system and adapted it to their own needs. Why can’t the richest country in the world do that? Why must hard working people become impoverished by one illness through no fault of their own? Why must children and adults die for lack of health care? Are we a humane country or are we a nation of the selfish elite who say, “I’ve got mine; now try to get yours.”?