Monday, August 8, 2011

Optimistic about health care reform?

At a Chamber of Commerce forum last week on "Health Care: The Changing Landscape of Cost & Quality," representatives of insurance companies, hospital systems and large employers seemed pessimistic about the future.

The federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will not control costs, they said, and will require that millions more people purchase health insurance (either on their own or with federal subsidies). That will result in a shortage of primary care doctors to handle the onslaught of newly insured patients.

"You can get really depressed talking about it," said Brad Wilson, CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield North Carolina.

One audience member asked whether, given these drawbacks, some speakers might wish the United States had followed the European example and chosen to "go in the direction of a single payer plan" or a public option.

Bob Ihrie, a senior vice president for employee rewards and services at Lowe's, said his company has stores in Canada, where the government is also trying to shift costs to the provinces, and "waiting lines (for care) are going up."

"I've gone back and forth on the issue," he said. "I'm deathly afraid that a single payer system would get us into one that is not very creative...You see various combinations (of health plans around the world) , and all of them have the same problem."

Tell me what you think.


Dave Molinaro said...

All modern, industrialized countries have universal health care. All citizens are covered, all these countries spend much less than we do on health care, yet all have better health care outcomes than we do.
Dave Molinaro

Michael Thompson said...

Karen -
If I told you I had a health reform plan that, over the long haul, would
-cost 50% less per person
-consume 50% less as a percenttage of our GDP
-result in 4-6 years more life expectancy
-ensure EVERY citizen were provided timely, affordable access to approrpiate care
-preserve the patient-provider relationship
-preserve the autonomy of providers and retain the non-profit and for-profit provider models we now enjoy

wouldn't you be screaming that to choose anything else would be malfeasance on a grand scale?... well this is exactly the mistake we make in not adopting a medicare-for-all system of financing and access.

And for those who are worried about the perceived ills of rationing, longer waits, then just agree to hold costs steady ... I'm sure if those European systems allocated TWICE the resources (to match our current spending levels), they wouldn't have any waits or complaints.

The more healthcare (and education) become a luxury for the rich, the more we drift from our national value of fierce independence that recognizes our inherent interdepence.

As Benjamin Franklin admonished... " We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately."

Deborah Steiner said...

What are we afraid of? Are we that beholden to the health insurance providers that we cannot try a single-payer system which would indeed cost much less/person and include the 45 million without health insurance now? I truly wish someone in Congress would be bold enough to propose it and shout it loud enough long enough to finally make a difference.

Anonymous said...

We have friends and family living in Australia, Norway and Germany. All of them love to visit here, but none wish to live here. Why? They're very aware of our health care system and aghast at what we, as citizens of the richest country, put up with in order to receive medical care.

Why can't we have a system similar to any other industrialized nation?

Karen Moeller, Charlotte, NC

Jim H said...

The health insurance providers like Blue Cross are crying big crocodile tears. They know that anything other than the system we have now is going to eat into their profits. They have no wish to reduce the amount spent on health care and are actually happy that it costs as much as possible because the poor, many of whom have chronic illnesses, can't afford coverage. There is a major difference between moral hazzard which the political right thinks will result in everyone "overusing" health care if it's universally available and affordable, and moral bankruptcy which defines our current system.

Jan said...

Would I have gone to Costa Rica for dental care if we had single payer? Certainly not. All information points to affordable to me and less costly to the providers.

Samual said...

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Andrea DeSantis DO said...

I work at a low income clinic and see medicaid, medicare and uninsured patients. I have developed an ability to glance at the patient's funding source, or lack thereof, and subconsciously start a diagnosis and treatment algorithm tailored to that. I instantly size up the financial burden versus the seriousness of the complaints and tailor the plan to satisfy the need to investigate versus the desire to avoid financial ruin for my patients. I recognize this is not the ideal way to practice medicine. things will be missed. Over 18,000 Americans die each year from diseases that should have been curable had they had proper insurance. I am looking forward to a time when I can practice the art of medicine and not have to participate in this disjointed, unfair, and financially distorted business model we call Healthcare. Simplification and standardization is the only way a national healthcare system can work. I support single payer or an improved Medicare for All.

jennyh said...

I lived in England in 3 years & I greatly miss the access to care I had in the UK. Waiting lines? It took me a month to get in with a rheumatologist (3 months for my friend), and 2 months to get in with the surgeon he referred me to -- and I am a physician myself.

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