Nov 292009

The current health care bill is being critized by some news outlets because it does not cover enough people, and because it most likely will raise taxes and in the current economic climate this is not good. A lot of people are struggling with low paying jobs and/or difficulty finding jobs, home forclosures may also get worse. The current bill will most likely raise the cost of labor, thus making America less competive in the world markets and as a result of this will lower American exports and send more jobs overseas, furthur injuring the economy.

The current climate remains one where the Right Wing is angry because they believe that government funding for millions of more people in the health care system can not be provided without bankrupting America because we’re already facing record debt, the most since World War II. The Left Wing is angry because they believe racism is the reason for not passing health care reform, because it’s 47 million poor people who do not have adequate medical care, and the current bill before congress will not cover all of them.

But what none of them is talking about is to take a cost effective approach to health care in America.

Basicaly, the process of being healed is killing us financially. Some people have tried to control costs by using insurance companies to control costs, but this just adds another layer of expense to an already expensive health care industry. The insurance companies have a profit margin of about 6% which is not bad, but they employ about one million people, and they have the usual costs of doing business of office space rental, payroll, office equipment etc. This adds nothing to the quality of health care and it certainly adds another layer of cost to health care. Dividends paid to investors also adds to the expense without adding any value to health care. Also, like most corporations, the insurance companies have to cut costs to stay in business, and the way health insurance companies control costs is to deny benefits to its customers. I myself have been denied breathing tests, have had the number of chiropractic visits reduced and had the doctor recommended number of allergy shots reduced by insurance companies, and I was never given a medical reason why, I was just told, “this is whats allowed by the insurance”.

Look at it this way. A doctor has to go to medical school and spend about $150,000 dollares in tuition costs – plus regular college and living costs as well while in school – so the average doctor before they start practicing medicine, could be in debt for about $250,000. Harvard Medical School can cost over $300,000 in tuition alone, so if you add regular college and living expenses – a Harvared educated doctor can be in debt for $400,000 to about $500,000 before they even start working!

Also, since America has about 300,000 doctors this means that about 7,500 retire every year and have to be replaced by new doctors (this is based on a 40 year working life. They like their work) and if you take the lower figure of $150,000 for tuition this means that about one billion dollars is spent by these people to become doctors. It also has to be realized that in the current system when doctors start practicing medicine while paying off their student loans with interest, they also have to start paying rent for office space, secretary pay, nurse pay, phone bills, heating/air conditioning bills, medical equipment and malpractice insurance that can cost between $10,000 and $100,000 per year, then on top of this add living expenses for the doctors. It’s no wonder medical bills are so high!

But if doctors are given a subsidy to help with thses expenses (the subsidy can be paid for by stopping payment of premiums to insurance companies and putting this money into the subsidy) this will lower their cost of practicing medicine and if free enterprise still works in America, with doctors having to advertise their cost of care, then the cost of health care will go down, so many people may decide they don’t need health insurance. This way medical decisions will be made between the doctor and the patient, without having insurance companies denying health care.

Some people will say this is subsidized medicine and they’re right, but look at other subsidized products the government provides, like farm subsidies. Some people object to this but this supplies a reliable and affordable food supply. Medical care is certainly a very important element in our society, but if people go bankrupt when using the health care system, then it becomes useless to society. The current system that insures most Americans is mostly paid for painlessly through payroll deductions, so if these payroll deductions go the subsidies for the health care industry instead of to insurance companies it will wind up costing less because insurance costs are out of this plan. Since insurance companies are out of this plan, they can not deny treatment to people who are paying for that treatment. An actual cost analyst must be done here.

Another cost cutting method may be for the government to establish a medical school on the internet that will be free to all internet users, this will cut the before mentioned one billion tuition bill deeply and make the cost to taxpayers even less. Granted, some courses like laboratory classes can not be given on the internet and certainly not for free, but if academic classes are free online the cost of medical school will be far less than it is now, and these savings can be passed on to the patients.

Then there is the cost of drugs. The drug companies are famous for price gouging, the cure for this is a government strong enough to stand up to them and stop taking campaign contributions from them and pass legislation to stop the price gouging.

Using these cost cutting methods on the other medical fields and some common sense instead of the current dogma from Washington will certainly make medical affordable to everybody. Using the other methods being discussed by Washington like insurnace provided health care or socialized medicine will cost more, be vulnerable to fraud, and ultimately will deny some health care to the patients.

It’s interesting to note how the media is handling this, for example, The New York Times had an article about Hawaii’s medical system where most people have full employer paid insurance with low co-pays, no deductibles and few out of pocket costs, their emergency rooms are 34% less used than on the mainland and the people in Hawaii are the most healthy in the nation with the longest life spans. Why they’re so healthy is not known, maybe it’s the low fat Asian food, maybe they’re very active (surfing, beach volley ball), maybe a secret ingredient in Poi does it, maybe they smoke less, maybe because they’re on an island in the middle of the windy Pacific Ocean that plows all the air pollution away, who knows. But what The New York Times does not mention is that since employers pay (by law) for their employees generous health insurance plans, the employers then pass the costs onto their customers thus making Hawaii one of the most expensive places to live with a gallon of milk costing $8.00 and a gallon of gas costing $3.60. So just like Europe with it’s 65% tax rate to pay for its socialized medicine, high health care costs is damaging the economy. So this attempt by the New York Times to make universal health care look workable just does not work when looked at with all economic factors included.

Having the government be the health care provider (socialized medicine) will not be cheaper, becuse countries with socialized medicine have tax rates of about 65% (as stated) and this high tax just stagnates the whole economey. And if the government provides health care we have to remember that it would be the same government that produced $500.00 hammers and $1,500.00 toilet seats; this really does not sound so good, does it. Also, think about how the government operates Amtrak, its been bankrupt since the government took it over. So, if taxpayers subsidze medical expenses and keep the government out of managing medical care we would be better off. Besides, doctors are better at managing health care than Washington or insurance agents.

Another real problem here is that the current administration is talking about making health insurance mandatory. This would be great for the insurance companies, but a disaster for the rest of us. Also, this would be clearly unconstitutional and against everything America stands for. This would be a giant step towards socialism, and lets not forget that socialism failed everywhere it was tried. It bankrupts the nation and gets millions of people killed.

Also, if medicare is eliminated and the elderly are included in the regular health care system with everybody else, it would eliminate duplicate paperwork and make care giving less expensive for everybody involved. But then again some seniors are living on fixed pensions and really do not have a lot of money for health care. These seniors should be given a subsidy to help them along, those seniors who are doing well financially will not need a subsidy. Keeping seniors in a separate system makes them vunerable to be separated into a substandard health care system. Our seniors deserve better, or at least the same health care as everybody else. With the current system, half of all doctors refuse to take medicare patients because of low payments and mountains of paper work to process claims and denied claims.

As far as medicaid is concerned, since it’s a program for poor people and since President Obama keeps talking about 47 million poor people without health insurance even though 83% of Americans have health plans they like (or at least tolerate) so, maybe he wants to change the whole system for the sole benefit of the poor, maybe he should just change the medicaid system. But to change it means to pour a lot of money into it, but that’s impossible because the President knows most Americans think poor people already have enough. So maybe president Obama is trying to pull a fast one on the American people by increasing health care for the poor, with the middle class getting a big tax hike to pay for it. If this is true, then the open government he promised comes into question.

Wealth re-distribution anybody?

It seems that our government is creating artificial jobs by creating duplicate paper work for our many different health care networks (medicare, medicaid, GHI,Blue Cross, Veterans), this keeps the cost of health care in the expensive mode it is now in. Also, it’s supporting an insurance based health care system that produces about one million jobs in the insurance industry. But if the government would just stop supporting a system that sends American jobs to other countries we would not need these artificial jobs. This can be done if we adopted a trade system that takes into account the worker pay difference in importing countries and our worker average pay and equalizes it by set currency exchange rates or by a system of tarriffs (set currency exchange rates are tricky because of speculators). For example, in China the average pay is only a dollar or two an hour, in America a worker needs to make $15 dollars an hour if they want to have a decent home and send their kids to college. If this is done, our manufacturing sector would creat more real useful jobs in a much more healthy economy. But then again, it would be nice if America would just become a normal country again with secure borders, effective crime control and a government that takes care on its own people before it takes care of people in other countries.

I know the word “Tariff” has become a dirty word, but we have to face the facts, America has lost millions of jobs to countries that subsidize their industries and give their workers low pay. America now exports mostly airplanes and farm products, not much else, our manufacturing sector has been hammered to death. It’s past time to revive it even if American business people that invested in factories in foreign countries will loose money, the American people need jobs and they need them now.

O.K. so I went a little off the subject by going from health care to economics, but everything is interrelated, you connot change one thing without affecting other sectors of the economy. This is why health care is so important, it’s 1/6 of the economy and when that changes, a lot of other things also change. The federal deficit is at record highs and to add more spending on top of these record deficits is very dangerous. Bankruptcy is a real danger with the current plans the government is thinking about.

It’s time to get smart about health care, so the politics and president Obama’s ego must be taken out of the health care debate.

But to get back to the topic here, subsidized health care is worth looking into. While socialized medicine or insurance supported medicine would be a disaster that raises the cost of American labor and make America less competive in the world market. Socialized medicine or insurance provided health care would be very expensive and deny health care to the very people it’s supposed to help.

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