I'm hoping this won't devolve into a discussion of the Affordable Healthcare Act (so-called "Obamacare"). Let's do that under a more specific topic.
Rather let's discuss the current system in America, what's wrong with it and what's right, whether it needs fixing, and how to fix it. Non-Americans are encouraged to chime in.
Here's my take:
1) There is no healthcare system on a national level beyond Medicare and Medicaid. Any other systems are local to some degree or other.
2) Pretty much everyone who doesn't have their head up their hind end can see that the current way of handling healthcare is not sustainable. within a decade or two, assuming costs continue to rise, healthcare will become unaffordable for most Americans.
3) Healthcare isn't a normal market where competition functions to lower cost. Yes, insurance companies exclude certain high-risk, high-cost people in an effort to maximize their profits and keep their rates down. However, that doesn't work because for the excluded people the local ER becomes the primary care provider. Somebody has to pay for this care, so it's passed along to the people who are insured through their insurance company. This is one reason why hospital Tylenol can cost $25. The marketplace actually RAISES costs.
4) Do you think it's ethical to throw 30+ million under the healthcare bus in order to keep rates low for those with insurance, especially considering that it ends up (as explained in the 3rd point) making costs higher anyway.
5) 30+ million people need affordable healthcare, and indigents need free healthcare. Is it so bad to have socialized healthcare for them, especially if it will function to bring costs down for the rest?
There was a time when people entered the health care field because they wanted to be able to help people. Now they enter it because they'e discovered that a Mercedes is a really sweet ride.
Any self-sustaining healthcare program needs to find a way to leverage doctors against each other - and not just doctors, but hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, and goods suppliers - to bring health care costs down.
"Oh, we can't do that, there'll be a drop in quality!" Or maybe there'll be a rise in doctors who practice medicine because they really care.
I think one of the reasons doctors (and dentists) become so wealth oriented is that their education puts them into tremendous debt which can take decades to pay back.
How about subsidizing their education tied to a pro bono obligation?
That works for me, but until there's some kind of effective fee cap in place, there's not a jackass in the world that won't chase a bigger carrot. It's just the nature of the beast - as much as we'd like them all to be Schweitzers, we both know that ain't gonna happen.
Doctors in other countries live well (e.g., drive a Mercedes) but don't seem to chase wealth nearly as much as American doctors. Maybe they live in a nice apartment instead of a mansion.
Ever seen Sicko?
Would you believe I'm on Moore's speed-dial?
To me the health care question boils down to a question of, for lack of a better word, morality.
Healthcare is not like any other product because no other product is mandated to be provided regardless of ability to pay. At one point we were a 'moral' enough a society that we decided as a people that we did not want to see the poor and the elderly dying in the street because they couldn't afford the medical treatment they needed to survive. Our level of society here is the US seems to be rapidly degrading at the impetus of unbridled greed and raw pettiness to a level where our answer now is that yes we would just as soon see them die in the street than pay a penny for them out of our own pocket. As evidenced by the mob at the Republican debates this election season.
I find it ironic that in the 'most christian' nation that we claim to be that we have more people blaming the victim and more willing to "let em die" than in those heathen anti-christian nations in Europe. I hesitate to use the word 'moral' due to the religious implications and the many discussion here about are atheist moral or not. There is a side argument about that but you can have a sense of right and wrong without using a poorly written fantasy book as a source.
If we allowed people to begin participation in Social Security at 60 or 65 and then that system would have failed decades ago. It is the universal participation that keeps it functional, and yes it is functional. Just because they have stolen the surplus and want to eliminate the system before they have to pay it back doesn't make it insolvent, it makes us all victims of theft.
Preventive care does save money in the long run. An insulin shot is cheaper than dialysis. An antibiotic is cheaper than the emergency care needed when the infection goes unchecked. Making sure that people have access to a Doctor before they have to go to the ER could catch these things earlier and save us money, Will everyone make us of it? No, do you all get your annual physical now? I doubt it. Will there still be some in the ER for sniffles. Yes unfortunately that will happen. Should all the poor be sentenced to death for the irresponsibility of a few? That answer use to be no, in the US now the answer is apparently yes, Praise Jesus.
RE: "they have stolen the surplus" - and spent it on porkbarrel projects in every state in the country!
More free clinics, possibly staffed by doctors, each doing half a day of pro bono work, would cut back seriously on non-essential ER visits.
One person's pork barrel projects is another person's jobs program or quality of life project that will make their area more attractive to a company to stay or relocate and attract people to live there.
Was the bridge in Minnesota that collapsed a pork barrel project before it fell into the river? Or the bridge on the NY thruway in Amsterdam that collapsed a few years ago?
The pork barrel projects are cuts in corporate income taxes, wars in countries that did not harm us so that the war profiteers, which we use to revile but not worship and admire, can make their obscene profits.
Speaking of healthcare, the believed discovery of the Higgs Boson at Cern has already given rise to a new weight loss program, details at:
Here's what the profit motive can do:
When an insured comes down with a serious life-threatening illness, the insurance companies make a calculation that often means that, for some patients, it's delay and deny treatments. Why? If a patient's survival means possibly years or decades of expensive ongoing care, it's cheaper to simply kill them off through delaying and denying lifesaving care.
This happens all the time.
Here's another adverse effect of the high cost of health insurance:
"The American Journal of Medicine completed a study (PDF) on the effect of medical cost for Americans. They found that 62.1% of all personal bankruptcies were due to medical cost. Three-quarters (3/4) of those who filed for bankruptcies in 2007 had health insurance. The following chart highlights the findings." (source)
Many of those who end up declaring bankruptcy actually HAD health insurance which may not have covered the bills 100%. But of course many of these people who went bankrupt had no insurance and had to choose between a crippling debt they might never be able to pay off or filing for bankruptcy.
I myself had to have lower back surgery during a period of involving a business failure decades ago and eventually I ended up having to file for bankruptcy. The back condition was very painful and limiting if not totally crippling, and having to stiff a doctor who did a good job for the remainder of my debt to him, which was significant, still doesn't leave a good taste in my mouth.
We really need a national healthcare system or safety net if only to relieve the bankruptcy courts.
That wacky bunch of tea-baggers that make up the majority of the House of Reps has announced that on July 11th, they will begin attempting to have the Affordable Health Care Plan repealed. Of course, they know they can't do that, as Dems control the Senate, so one can only assume that they foresee that they can get some election-year mileage out of it.
Warms the cockles of my heart to see our tax dollars at work, and nothing feels better than warm cockles --