Monday, March 9, 2009

Another Health Care Rant

Here I go again - another rant on health care. If President Obama fulfills his modest health care plan we may yet be able to insure everyone.

However, those of us who have studied the issue know that the most efficient and least costly plan would be a single payer system. We also know it could be done immediately if the politicians were all on board. Of course, most Republicans blanch at installing such a sensible system just as they shuddered at Social Security. Pragmatism is not their strong suit. Ideology trumps everything. Here are a few facts that bolster my contention that a single payer plan would be the best way to go.
  • The nation spent $2.4 trillion on health care in 2008, and yet 46 million Americans have no health coverage at all.
  • Attaining universal health care will almost inevitably cost most Americans - businesses and taxpayers - more. But the cost of doing nothing is more extreme.
  • The insurance industry try, most successfully, to avoid insuring the sick, or those at risk of being sick. (think pre-existing conditions). Profit is, of course, the motive.
  • Private insurers spend more than 15 percent of the money they collect in premiums on administrative costs. Medicare spends about 2 percent. Marketing is part of the administrative expenses and there would be no need for advertising in a universal Medicare plan.
  • Hundreds of thousands of people are employed in administrative positions in every doctor's office, nursing home and hospital due to the myriad of insurance forms. That would be eliminated under a universal system.
  • State and Federal agencies add to the cost of medical care by having to monitor the insurance companies for fraud and abuse. If the profit motive were gone the cost would be much less.
Perhaps President Obama's plan is the best and only path to Universal coverage. Under his plan the insurance companies will still exist if they can compete with a Medicare type government plan. (The insurance companies are already beginning a campaign complaining that they don't want to compete with a Medicare type plan. They could no longer cherry pick the healthy to insure. That sounds like a good reason to have a government plan to me.) If they can't compete, then a Single Payer Plan would emerge by default.

I know that right now someone is thinking, "where will all those displaced workers find jobs in this economy?" Some of them would switch to work for the government. Nonetheless, this clouds the issue. The economy must have health care reform or the whole house of cards will fall. The United States, industries, small business operators and individuals are drowning under the current system. Obama knows that health care reform has to be the third leg of his recovery program. "If we don't tackle health care," he said at the White House health care summit last week, "we're going to break the bank"

To read the plan copy this in your browser:

Support the single payer health care bill, HR 676, The United States National Health Insurance Act, ("Expanded & Improved Medicare for ALL").
Please write or call your Congressperson today.


Betty said...

You are so right. I hope it isn't watered down to much in the negotiating.

Sucharita Sarkar said...

Hi Darlene,

I've seen your comments frequently on Gappa....Good to know that in the US you have a health system, which inspite of its shortcomings, exists. In India, there is NO heathcare policy at all. It all depends on the person's own family (or, in some cases, on the neighbours' charity).

Darlene said...

Betty, I hope so too.

Sucharita Sarkar, Thank you for visiting my blog. I hope you will return. Yes, we have health care for the elders and the poor, yet others have to buy their own policies unless their employer provides health insurance. Thousands have no health insurance at all.

Rinkly Rimes said...

We have just had a documentary on TV about the US Health System. I was shocked to see people in one state lining up at night for free dental and medical treatment, on a sort of lottery system!!! Our Health System is criticised here loud and long but your situation sounds dire. Poor old Obama!

Granny Annie said...

Darlene, I think I've finally found a way to mark your blog so I can read it on a more regular basis. I still don't understand why I can't get it to come up under my google reader or in the right place on my blog roll. Anyway, every time I pop in to check, you have written a political post. It is alwasy well written but not always anything I can agree with. Regardless, I'm out here enjoying catching up with my friend Darlene:)

steph said...


I enjoyed your rant on health care.

Healthcare in Ireland, sadly, is being modelled on your for-profit health system. Our present government is determined to privatise healthcare using tax incentives etc. so that it can wash it's hands of responsibility. Everyone else knows that a universal social insurance-funded model is the way forward but we're being forced to go in the opposite direction at the moment. Over 50% of the population hold private health insurance not through choice, but out of necessity. Our public health service is in crisis through lack of resources/funding and patients without insurance suffer the consequences.

The facts you use to back-up your argument for a single tier health service, are excellent. Profit not patient care is the motive in a privatised system.

I really hope that Obama gets the support he deserves to implement his new healthcare plan. It won't be easy but then leading by example, never is.

Keep up the good fight. We've got our hopes pinned on you guys!


(from Grannymar's fan club)

Sylvia K said...

Ah, you say all the things I'm thinking but fortunately not with the obscenities that seem to go along with anything I have to say about healthcare. I know we have more than some countries and that's good, but we have a lot less than many. I just hope Obama gets the support that he needs to make this happen.