The Case For National Healthcare
Wednesday - June 03, 2009
As you read this, 50 million Americans may not have any medical insurance - up from 45.7 million a year ago. Why? Layoffs. Out-of-work people can’t pay medical insurance premiums.
The Census Bureau says 7.5 percent of the people in Hawaii have no health insurance.
That national GOP proposal last month of a tax credit so you can buy private insurance is a joke. And the idea of taxing our employer-sponsored health insurance is absolutely bizarre!
What we need is national health insurance. Why are so many people still uneasy about that through a government program similar to Medicare? Let me lay it out without all the spin by those trying to preserve private insurance companies.
We’ll always pay for medical care in tax, insurance or by fees - no freebies. I can appreciate that many of you want to go to a hospital or doctor of your choice and have an insurance company pay all or part of your bill. You can get a choice of doctors with an HMO like Kaiser, but you must stay within the HMO. However, that choice-on-everything is part of the cost killer that’s driving many to go uncovered.
We could easily have universal health insurance similar to Medicare with the U.S. government as the single payer. Why don’t we? Because private health insurers have been able to frighten us into believing that single-payer, universal health-care will be too expensive and you’ll have to wait in lines for care.
Expensive? Yes. But we can afford it. All other industrialized nations do. Wait in line? Only if we did a flawed system like Canada’s. We won’t.
Look, here’s the whole shot. We have this plethora of private insurance companies. They pay out whatever they want. They charge whatever they want. National health insurance provides a pool of everyone, even the unemployed. Payment to hospitals and physicians is negotiated for this national pool. It’s standardized. If some physician feels his surgery is worth more, he can opt out and take whatever comes to him outside our national health insurance, which won’t be much.
This federally mandated system would require that every medical facility have computerized access to everyone’s health records. No more stuff like when I contacted the New York Hospital for Special Surgery for an orthopedic appointment and it would not accept my current Kaiser X-rays.
We’d need some national standards of care, and I know that spooks you. I had foot surgery this year. What if Kaiser had said, “Sorry, Bob, but you’re 73 and can hobble OK until you die”? But it wouldn’t, because its staff would realistically analyze my quality of life. If I were 93, Dr. Mark Santi likely would have told me to hobble on and forgo the surgery.
Many of you dislike universal healthcare because you think government can’t run anything well. This isn’t government running healthcare. This is government negotiating the charges and paying the bills. Just as those multiple insurance companies do now.
Ideally, we should all be getting what Dan Inouye, Dan Akaka, Neil Abercrombie and Mazie Hirono get. They pay $304 a month per couple for no annual or lifetime limit on care, a $300 deductible per person. Full in/out patient medical and mental care, all drugs, all tests, all orthopedic devices including artificial limbs, transplants, therapy, and chemo and radiation treatment.
Congress takes a helluva lot better care of itself than it does of us.
One sideline observation: Pro basketball is beginning to look like pro football or hockey. Shoving, muscling, punches and elbows. The refs could stop that, but obviously the owners approve of a little blood-letting to excite the fans. It’s a sad development in what used to be a game of finesse.
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