Universal Healthcare and Single Payer Programs

American Health Care: To Make It Universal Health, or Not To, That Is The Question

The American Health Care industry is second to none in the world. Seriously ill patients come to the United States for treatment because our commitment to innovation is unmatched, and our research is the envy of the world.

Americans have long believed that one’s health is a private matter that should not become the business of government. Therefore, using this reasoning, as far back as 1854 when President Franklin Pierce vetoed a national mental health bill on the basis that it would be unconstitutional to regard health as anything but a private matter in which government should not become, any National Health Care system has been frowned upon.

A member of the Democrat Party, and a major supporter of the socialist agenda, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, favored a national health insurance program and wanted to make it a part of the Social Security Act. He later decided not to follow through with that plan when he realized that opposition to it would likely jeopardize passage of the entire act.

Universal Health Care goes by many names. It is sometimes called Nationalized Health care, Socialized Medicine, and Single Payer Insurance, but in the end, it is still the same – government paid health care, paid for by the dollars of the American taxpayer.

Health Insurance is something that in the early history of this nation was either non-existent, or something the elite could afford. As a result, doctors were subject to the free market, and kept prices affordable and quality high because of the necessity to do so in order to hang on to their customers. Competition was fierce in the industry, and doctors even practiced house calls in order to keep the patients happy.

During the many attempts by the government to make nationalized health care a reality, insurance companies became more willing to reach out to more customers in an affordable manner so that the government wouldn’t take their business away from them with a single government paid system. As a result, FDR and Truman were unable to create a national health care system as desired. Truman, in fact, being more conservative than Roosevelt, dropped the pursuit of such a program quickly after becoming president.

As time passed the legal industry became involved, and as lawsuits against the industry rose, so did insurance costs in order to combat the onslaught of litigation they found themselves defending themselves against. And as this happened, insurance companies invested in other markets to deepen their pockets. The medical industry began to charge more in response to the Insurance Company’s deep pockets, and began to recommend even unnecessary procedures in a combination of attempting to earn more money, and to cover all of their bases so that legal attacks would be less likely to come to them. Eventually, the cost of medical care became so great that the individual could no longer afford medical care without insurance companies being involved to pay the bills, and this shifted the control of the medical care industry from the consumer/care provider to the lawyers and insurance companies. Long gone were the doctor-patient relationships that kept down prices.

Nonetheless, though American health care can be confusing, impersonal, and more expensive than it needs be, the quality of the American Health care Industry is the best in the world.

It is the cost of health care that has the American public in a quandary, and willing to try just about anything to resolve the nightmare. Apparently, the lawyers, greedy doctors, and out of control insurance industry is the problem. Few deny that. The question is, how do we bring down the costs and make American Medical Care more affordable to the consumer once again?

As expected in a free market economy, it is private enterprise that is making headway in this issue. Entrepreneurs are finding ways to bring innovative, consumer-oriented health care to the market. These entrepreneurs are simplifying medical decisions, and reinvigorating primary care while lowering health-care costs. This health care revolution from the private sector is improving quality, lowering costs, and empowering the people to control their own health care. And the best way for this to move forward, and become successful, is for the government to move out of the way, and make it easier for private enterprise to do what they have always done for this country – provide an answer.

As we learned with the insurance industry, the “payer” becomes the controlling factor, and dictates to the industry what it can and can’t do by its decisions on what it will and will not cover. Understanding that part of the equation, why would anyone want the government to have that kind of control over our private matter of health?

The examples liberals have used with me to proclaim the potential success of such a government run system is Medicare (Ken) and the Veteran’s Administration medical system (Tom).

Thing is, when compared to private health care, these are both failed systems.

Medicare has become a system that is a failure in all senses of the word. It has become a “complex system of administered pricing and price controls, governed by elaborate statutory formulas and characterized by mind-numbing regulatory micromanagement. In sharp contrast to reimbursement for professional services in other economic sectors, Medicare providers are not paid according to their skill levels, their innovative treatments, the quality of the care delivered to individual Medicare patients, or the specific benefits provided to patients. Moreover, under current government formulas, they can look forward to future reductions in Medicare reimbursement even though they are expected to treat a dramatically larger Medicare population.”

The system is going bankrupt before the government’s eyes, and so they try to feed more taxpayer money into it to save the beast. Members of Congress have become unhappy with the Medicare physician payment program that they created for good reason.

The VA system for veterans is also heralded by members of the left as a rousing success, and a great example of government paid/controlled health care at its best.

I am a patient in the VA medical system. And I will have to agree that it is heads and tails better now than it was when you compare it to the system in the nineties. I joined VA as a partially-disabled veteran in 1988, and I have seen the best and the worst that the VA system has to offer.

As a veteran I am appreciative of the system. And I don’t see it as an entitlement or free system, because VA care has been bought and paid for by the blood of our veterans, and they deserve a system to help them in their post-military years. However, when compared to the private health care system, VA is not exactly the bed of roses the liberal left loonies make it out to be.

To illustrate a couple failings of the VA system, I will use myself as an example.

If I wish to see my doctor at the VA, it usually takes six months. If I push it, I may get in to see him in a few weeks. Immediate care requires a “triage” visit through the emergency room with a doctor not familiar with my case, and all to often once he or she has my record, they do not understand the case. In fact, in two instances the duty doctor prescribed wrong medications that wound up putting me in a crisis situation. With my private doctor in the civilian world, usually I see my doctor the same day. At worse, I see his assistant, or get my doctor the next day.

When a recent ailment arose a few years ago, one that causes me severe pain in certain joint areas of my body, using an internal network of specialists and doctors, VA gave me a diagnosis of what I am experiencing in about six months. I went to my private doctor at the same time, and they had an accurate diagnosis in a couple weeks.

When I go to VA it is usually an all day affair, 5 to 8 hours depending on the tests that need to be run, and the fluids that need to be drawn. At my private physician’s office I am in and out of there more often than not in less than two hours, adding another half hour at the place across the street should I need other tests performed, and blood drawn.

Here’s my point: Is VA and Medicare a God-send for some folks? Sure it is. And for welfare style health care programs, like what the county hospitals use, use of it by citizens on a temporary basis seems to help in cases of extreme hardship, or bad timing (like if a person becomes injured between jobs and has no insurance at that moment). But considering the government’s track record, and the private nature of one’s health, do we really desire the government to be the payer (and therefore the controller) of all of our health care in the U.S.? Do we really wish to see our country pursue a system that is a proven failure in Canada and Britain? Do we really wish to see the same entity that runs our Departments of Motor Vehicles with such efficiency (Sarcasm, of course) to run our health care system into the ground while with the private enterprise influence it reigns as currently the best in the world?

I think not.

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Published in: on September 8, 2008 at 2:50 am  Leave a Comment  
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