Health Care in the United States: Problems and Solutions Part I

Costs of Health Insurance on the Rise

The new health care legislation promises to be nothing short of an economic disaster for the United States. Already, insurance companies are raising rates across the board, in anticipation of the demands that will be placed on them when the full impact of Obama care kicks in by 2014. Of course, this is not such bad news for those on the left who favor a single-payer universal health care system, because it means that fewer and fewer employers will choose to offer healthcare to their workers, as they simply won’t be able to afford it. As this plan was so carefully crafted to do, employers will choose to pay the penalty for not providing healthcare to employees, as that cost will be far less to them than covering their employees would be. So, more and more people will be forced to choose the government co-op plans (just another name for the “government option”), particularly since purchasing health insurance on their own will be impossible, due to the recent hikes mentioned above.

How Obama’s Plan Intends to Reduce Costs

Once the government co-op plans become more and more the norm, the quality and availability of health care in the United States will go down. There is no question about it. The main method that government uses to keep costs down is to simply pay less for services. In many cases already, such as in medicare and medicaid, the government pays less for many services than they even cost to do, never mind allowing for any profit. So, the hospitals and doctors who serve these people end up losing money for performing these procedures. Up to now, those on private health insurance have picked up the slack for these money-losing interactions with inflated costs for the same procedures when they have them done, and hospitals and doctors have been able to make ends meet. But, with fewer on private health insurance, this buffer will no longer make up for the lost revenue, and many hospitals will have to close, and doctors leave their practices.

Another way that government run health coverage attempts to control costs is through managed health care. This will be administered by government committees and boards who will decide which treatments and procedures a given patient can have, based on statistical data related to the patients’ condition, and the average outcomes of the various treatments and procedures. Well, if you happen to be a “typical” case, you may be okay with the treatments that you are allowed to have. But rarely does a medical condition, particularly the more complex and serious ones, follow a cookie cutter pattern. This method of price control will ultimately remove the ability for you and your doctor to explore the different options available for your treatment, and choose the right one for you. At the very least, it will mean many hours wasted for doctors who will have to file lengthy paperwork and spend hours on the phone each week, advocating for a treatment that is not “allowed” under the government option health care plan. In addition, this process will inevitably delay a needed treatment, which will mean worse outcomes for the patient.

An alarming proportion of doctors (at lease one-third, according to a survey by the Medicus Firm) have indicated that they will simply choose not to practice medicine, once Obama care is fully implemented. And, many hospitals, particularly the smaller community based hospitals, will have to close their doors due to decreased payment for services. With less healthcare available, it will necessarily become more difficult to find a physician or hospital, and long waiting periods for treatments will become the norm.

Simply put, Obama care must be repealed. Once it gets a foothold, it will be nearly impossible to disentangle his huge bureaucracy from our health care system. So, what to do?

Should the Federal Government be in the Health Care Business?

In order to come up with a health care system that works, it is necessary to agree on the underlying principles of the role of the federal government in our lives. Most certainly, the founding fathers would be horrified to learn that health care (among so many other things) falls under the purview of the federal government. This nation was set up so that the federal government would be the LEAST influential over the lives of the citizens, not the most. The founders ingeniously planned for the states to act as many different experimental platforms when it comes to any issue not explicitly granted to the federal government. In this way, a state that had success in a certain arena would stand as an example for other states to follow, modify and tweak to fit their own state. This system is a much better way to arrive at a policy that works than to have a one-size-fits-all policy, administered by the federal government.

So the first step toward real health care reform would be to leave it up to the states, and get the federal government out of the business entirely. The goal should be to insure that each legal citizen of each state is able to obtain the health care that he or she needs to maintain health and preserve life, while fostering a robust health care system that is dynamic, innovative and profitable. Seems an impossible task? Not at all. Stay tuned for part two of my assessment of the health care issue in the United States and the possible solutions to the problem of making it accessible to all.

*link to Part II

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