January 29, 2007

Universal Healthcare Alternative


So, here are the current sides of the health care issue in this country. If you're a proponent of universal health care, you're a financial idiot. If you're not a proponent of universal health care, you hate poor people. Is there a middle ground?

Specifically, is there a way to provide universal health care coverage in a privatized system? So, the premise is that the government would fully fund health care in this country, but they would not run it. The health care system would be run competitively amongst many healthcare providers and players in order to ensure rate competitiveness and efficiency of these government funds. Is this possible?

9 comments:

SpuneDagr said...

Unrelated to the post...

The ie-media.com project is, uh, steady. To get any real programming work done, I need a good 4 hour block of uninterrupted time for it. You can imagine how often I get that.

It's on the bottom of my priority list right now, unfortunately. I'll let you know when good things happen with it though.

-Dave

Sabai said...

thanks for the update Dave!

as for the rest of you, c'mon, this is cosmic stuff here. we're revolutionizing the healthcare system in this country. Let's have some thoughts!

Arcane Rest said...

Okay so let's just start off by saying there can be but massive changes have to be made. Currently, the United States compared with other industrialized countries spends more per capita on health care, spends more out of pocket, visits the doctor the least, stays in the hospital the least, has the lowest life expectancy, and highest infant mortality rate. So all of the money pumped into the system has done little.

On top of that according to 2006 Federal Spending 41% of $2.6 trillion was spent on Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. I have no idea how they would have the ability to pay for the rest of us. So people must rely on a private system, but one that does not rely on pure policy.

From about 1989 to 1996 health care premiums went far down. Why? Because the idea of universal health care, and the thought of the government controlling such a large part of the economy got the private insurance companies to manage more aggressively. This lead to decreased health care premiums and limited 'preventative' tests. The change to increased money in health care came from consumers wanting better health care.

I guess here is the rub. The job of insurance companies is to make money, just like all other companies. But the job of the health professional is to get someone better. The patient wants to get better without spending thousands and thousands of dollars.

The free market system, which requires the consumer to have sufficient knowledge about price, quality, and benefits of products does not work when there is a 3rd party payer like in health care. I mean honestly do you know how much it is to have an x-ray or an MRI, or to have a physical therapy evaluation?

So in conclusion, it is completely possible for the private sector to decrease premium costs so a majority of the uninsured will be covered but the cost of decreased premiums will be decreased care.

Arcane Rest said...

So are we paying for universal health care now? Yes, we absolutely are. How so? You may ask. The 46 million uninsured people in the USA have a couple of ways of 'paying' for health care provided to them. The first and what most people would like them to do is out of pocket purchase (OOP). As we all know, this is quite expensive, so much so that people can go bankrupt for a week spent in the hospital with meningitis. So since the people that don't have insurance ussually dont have the money to pay OOP, and they are not usually bankrupt, what happens. The money the person is not able to pay is usually either decribed as a charity case by the hospital, which can only happen so much, or is paid by the insured. We, the insured pay for the uninsured, by paying higher fees for ALL services of the hospital. This happens because no business entity can survive with at a loss from quarter to quarter or year to year.

Because it is the law for hospitals to take people in if the hosptital has emergency services, many of the uninsured go there. Unlike us, they have to go there when they are infected with the flu or common cold because they have no where else to go. The emergency room is by far the most expensive place to receive care. This is real bad because the people cannot pay and the cost is thrown to us. This would not happen if the people were able to go to a regular doctor's office, like you and I.

People propose that a universal coverage plan, allowing a majority of the uninsured to be on it, makes it easier to go to the doctor's office instead of the emergency room. How pays for it? We do of course, but we get more for the money. Instead of a emergency room episode costing us a total of $1500, we pay $150 for a regular doctor's office visit.

So we pay either way, I guess it depends on how much we are willing to pay. What do you guys think?

Sabai said...

sean, i think you helped me understand just how little I know about the healthcare system in this country. But, you have also depressed me, because now I'm at square 1 for having an answer.

steering the uninsured from the ER makes sense, but what do these proponents believe that this plan will cost?

Arcane Rest said...

A clear dollar amount I am not aware of, however, they believe that it will be less than the $41 billion dollars it now costs. In 2005, $34.6 billion (85%) was paid from the federal government to this uncompensated care. The money came from our taxes, and out of the medicare & medicaid funds. The rest is given over to us, through rate hikes and such, as previously mentioned.

The idea of the general health insurance for everyone is to allow the person the ability to go on regular doctor visits and stop illnesses from progressing. Also, there would have to be some provision for drugs treatments, or decreased drugs, i.e. expansion of Wal-mart's $4 generic drugs.

Also, I would think that there could be some cost, although diminished, for the patient. Something like a co-pay, to stop complete abuses of the system (same as private insurance companies do). This would allow the people to determine if it is worth the $5-20 to see the doctor, but at the same rate not making it a ridiculously high amount.

So to answer your question, I am not sure what the cost would be, but the hope is to let preventive medicine access decrease overall expense.

A great website:www.kff.org

Sabai said...

wow, if hilary's proposed plan is going to lower taxpayer costs, then she is doing a bad job of promoting her plan. So, what was it about Canada's universal policies that failed?

Arcane Rest said...

i will respond fully soon....real busy right now

Arcane Rest said...

Currently, Canada is under investigation to see how long their health care system can sustain. It isn't looking good. The cost is crazy and the taxes are high. The wait to see a specialist is sometimes more than 16 weeks. The system, like ours, is flawed. Canada's universal health covers about 70% of cost and now people are buying private insurance to buffer their cost and cut down on the wait.

To fully answer, there are downfalls to unviersal healthcare. Like I stated before we would be saving money on the people that are uninsured right now. However, to cover everyone the taxes would increase. The health insurance that we are given from the government with the higher taxes will probably be worse than the private sector (you can ask any one of your grandparents on Medicare).

Also, if there was a universal healthcare system established you will have some employers decrease or abolish their own health plans because their employees now receive it from the government. California is now doing dialogue to determine the best way to motivate the employers to keep their insurance (tax breaks or susidies or something) when and if they decide to have the statewide health benefits.

The problem with a governmental paid program is that it has its base in policy. Unfortunatley, policy does not allow for leniency. The government will be after saving money and changing policy every year requiring changes in what is covered or what it cost. It would basically be Medicare for everyone, which isn't the best scenario, because it is just a mass of government beaucracy.

Will it save you and I money? It depends. I could or could not and it depends on so many variables it is real hard to say.

Basically, to make health insurance better and cover the masses effectively, private companies have to be willing to decrease potential profit. And providers of care have to do what is necessary for the patient but not provide more service just to be paid.

I guess it all comes down to a simple question. Is healthcare a right to all people?

Your answer will determine what you think should be done. The way our representatives act in D.C. and our state is in response to that question.