Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Health Care Slum: Tear It Down!

If Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon were deciding who dies and who gets maimed in Iraq, there would be a public outcry. Why, then, is it acceptable for HMOs and insurance companies to make those decisions for Americans at home?

In all the talk about health care, none of the ’08 White House aspirants has been willing so far to take a wrecking ball to the termite-infested structure that has been deteriorating for half a century.

The slum lords, who take one out of every three dollars collected from the victims, are interested only in profits, some of which they use to lobby against any attempt to provide decent public housing instead,

As Clinton, Obama and Edwards duel over their palliative remedies and the Republicans snarl about “socialized medicine,” there is no serious debate about extending the Medicare model, which works well for older Americans, into a single-payer system that would provide better care at far less cost.

If all the moviegoers who are enjoying their righteous outrage after seeing “Sicko” would demand it, we could have a serious discussion instead of sound bites.

Will any network will step up and offer the time for it? From the sampling of YouTube videos so far, there would be no shortage of good questions.


Curt said...

There’s a tendency to look for an easy explanation or cause when dealing with complex problems like healthcare, but it doesn’t lead to productive solutions.
You seem to believe that the main cause of out of control healthcare costs is the private insurance industry. I agree that administrative burdens in doctors’/hospitals’ offices add to the cost, but it’s an exaggeration to say it’s the main cause. By the way I agree that we can and should streamline that process and technology will go along way toward that end. But the problem is much deeper in my opinion. In economic terms the system makes no sense. It doesn’t function like a normal market system. If you applied the current economic model that is our healthcare system to any other industry you’d have rampant inflation in that sector in no time. The fact is the medicare model set the standard for what we have today. If you commissioned a group of economists to design a system ripe for abuses that would lead to out of control costs, and distortions of supply and demand they could do no better than the medicare model. This is one the major economic issues that we’re going to have to face in the coming years; the wheels are coming off. Anyone who believes the long term solution to the cost problem is simply to shut down private healthcare insurance and expand medicare, as it currently exists, to the entire population, hasn’t thoroughly examined the issue imo.. Ultimately the problems with healthcare in this country all come down to cost. And a system that, by its very design, leads to higher costs is no solution. We already have a quasi socialist system in this country and it’s leading to out of control costs.
“Without information about costs, people lack the ability to choose less expensive options. Without responsibility for costs, they lack the motivation to choose care that offers good value.” Alan Garber

jfreeland said...

Thanks for posting this, Robert. The link above goes to a summary of H.R. 676 "Expanded Medicare," which now has 76 cosponsors in the House.

I'm surprised at how many I read and talk to support this single-payer (not single provider) system but feel resigned to the overwhelming power of the insurance lobby. This is sad and reflects citizen's low expectations of what is supposed to be representative government.

Insurance companies are mostly an unnecessary intermediary that got into the game to make a buck. They're not scientists, healers, or therapists.

I remember my dad advising to get into a business where a lot of money's transacted because some of it would "stick."

That's all this is. Insurance companies collect from policy holders and pay out to medical providers, all the time trying to make more of that cash stick with the company. They basically amount to a fat "tapeworm" in the health care system.

H.R. 676 would provide funding to retrain insurance personnel and other displaced workers for new careers.

Univeral health coverage will be a tough fight, but well worth it.