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Single-Payer Health Care Is the Better Option
Often when things really suck I have been so unhappy with my circumstances that any change seemed better than the status quo. I have hated a job so much that I resigned and then found no income to be worse than income from a job that sucks like a vacuum cleaner. The reason that saying OUT OF THE FRYING PAN INTO THE FIRE has stayed around as long as it has is because it so perfectly describes a very common trait within human nature. The President’s effort at Health Care Reform is an example of the ANYTHING IS BETTER THAN THIS syndrome.
Yes, millions of Americans believe President Obama when he says that if we do nothing that the problems with Health Care is only going to get worse, but what we need is the right change, not just any ole change. Now fiscal conservatives, mostly Republicans, Libertarians, and grumpy old farts oppose any change that costs money, or is, well, a change. Those who hate change, those who love big insurance companies and those who can’t stop themselves from pandering to the super rich are never going to be convinced that we need Health Care Reform. Since about 2/3rds of the population feels we DO NEED some sort of Health Care Reform, I am speaking to this group.
A POLITICAL ERROR
President Obama made a serious political error by not including both a Public Option AND a Single Payer Plan among the choices for Health Care Reform. For the fearful and stagnation lovers there is no worse option than a single payer health insurance option. If Mr. Obama had placed the Single Payer Plan on the table it would have so horrified this herd of Chicken Little Lawmakers that the Public Option would have seemed like middle ground to them.
THE BETTER PLAN IS THE SCARY PLAN: Q&A
The President is fighting hard for health reform and there is little doubt that the majority of Americans feel there is a crisis in affordable access to health care, so there is a temptation to want health reform. Here are my questions and options on Single Payer Health Care:
Q: Isn’t a Single Payer Health Care Plan just too expensive?
A: If you need it bad enough, even if it were expensive, then if there is any way to get it, you do what you have to do to pay for it. I have bought a car I could only afford by making painful cut backs and shouldering debt to get it, but I HAD to have a car. In the Gold Rush Days I read where some prospectors were so hungry they would pay a hundred dollars for a single egg. IF access to health care for all is needed, then it is worth the cost. We had no hesitation to spend billions on a war justified by lies about non-existent WMDs (Weapons of Mass Destruction).
The truth is that the United States spends at least 40% more per capita for our health care than any other industrialized country with universal health care are spending. The Congressional Budget Office and the General Accounting office have conducted studies that show that single payer universal health care would save 100 to 200 Billion dollars per year despite covering all the uninsured and increasing health care benefits. State Governments in Massachusetts and Connecticut have looked at this issue and found that single payer universal health care would save 1 to 2 Billion dollars per year from the total medical expenses in those states even while covering all the uninsured and actually increasing health care benefits for their citizens.
Q: But what about comparing health care costs in Canada and the US as a percentage of their GNP (gross national product).
A: Before Canada went to single payer national health insurance the cost for health care was virtually identical in both the US and in Canada. When Canada changed their system in 1971 to single payer Universal Health Care the cost for health care became much lower in Canada and significantly higher in the United States, despite the fact that the economy of the United States was much stronger than Canada’s. The opponents to a single payer plan may claim that it is going to cost too much, but the truth is, in countries where it has been enacted health care costs have gone down significantly, and much of the savings comes from lower administrative costs and the power of bargaining with the big business health industry. The United States spends 50 to 100% more on administration than single payer systems. By lowering these administrative costs the United States would have the ability to provide universal health care, without managed care, increase benefits and still save money. As for bargaining, the reason Wal-Mart can offer products cheaper is because when they bargain with a supplier they can say, “We are going to buy 10 million weed-eaters, and company X has already offered to sell it to us for this amount. If you want our business you’re going to have to beat their price. What works for weed eaters works for MRI machines.
Q: Why screw with the American Health Care System. I mean, don’t Americans already have the best health care system in the world?
A: Sadly, no. For example, the most recent statistics I can find state that the best country for infant survival is Singapore with 2.30 death per 1,000 live births. The second best chance for a baby to survive is in Sweden with 2.76 deaths per 1,000 live births. Where does the United States rank? The United States ranks 37th with 6.37 deaths per 1,000 live births. We are lower on the list than Canada, lower on the list than Slovenia, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg and Portugal. In 1960 when nations were ranked by their number of infant deaths the USA ranked 12th in the world. If the USA ranks 37th in the number of infant mortalities does this sound like our system is better than these other countries with single payer health care?
Want another example?
In 1945 the United States ranked 1st in life expectancy for woman. That number dropped to 17th in 1960.
Life expectancy in the United States now ranks 45th among all nations of the world with an overall life expectancy of 78.06 years. What nation is number 1? Macau with an overall life expectancy of 84.329 years. Canada, with their terrible single payer health care ranks 14th with an over all life expectancy of 80.34 years. Malta ranks 27th.
Want other examples?
The United States ranks between 50th and 100th in immunizations depending on the immunization. Overall US is 67th, right behind Botswana.
Studies show that among major life threatening diseases such as coronary artery disease, and renal failure the United States ranks below Canada and a wide variety of industrialized nations.
Conclusion? The health care we cling to because it is the best in the world, is not the best in the world. The truth is that among other industrialized nation, health care in the United States falls way too far down the list.
Q: The Problems with Health Care can only be solved by private industry, because private industry is more innovative than government run managed health care.
A: These private “for profit “ corporation are the lease efficient deliverer of health care. They spend between 20 and 30% of our premium dollars on administration and profits. The public sector is much more efficient. Medicare only spends 3% on administration.
In one study I read about, the researchers took hospitals that were going from NON-PROFIT TO FOR PROFIT providers. What the study found is that the same procedures in the same hospitals jumped 20% to 35% higher the year they became FOR PROFIT hospitals.
Pollsters found that 80% of the public and 71% of doctors believe that managed health care forced on them by the health insurance industry have caused quality of care to be compromised.
Q: But we have single payer health care with Medicaid and Medicare and there is waste and fraud that runs rampant in that system. If we apply a similar single payer system to the whole country won’t we just have greater abuses, waste and fraud?
A: When there is a problem with something good you don’t throw it all out, you fix the problems. When your new car breaks down you don’t toss it out and buy a new one, you fix the problem. When your children mess up, you don’t disown your kids, or drop them down a well, you work with your children because they are precious, they are priceless. You fix problems when the problems are with something of great value. Medicare is doing a great job for our senior citizens, and applying it to the whole nation would give the single payer Not For Profit health care provider enormous bargaining power, and would lower the administrative costs required to run the thousands of FOR PROFIT insurance companies.
Q: Well, wouldn’t Obama’s Health Reform Plan be better than the way things are now?
A: Maybe. If it passes, I sure hope so. My fear is that it is going to be too costly, and too manipulated by the FOR PROFIT insurance and Health Care Industry. Even with a sliding scale to pay for mandatory health care, the cost to working families looks like it is going to be burdensome. Because this is mandatory insurance it may be weak coverage. When people are forced to pay more than they can afford and what they get is inferior they rebel at the ballot box. If Obama gets a poor health care reform the chance that the no party will win support, and get in there and dismantle the Obama Health Care Reforms and we will be left worse off than before.
I believe that one of the reasons people hate taxes is because they don’t see how tax dollars are helping them on an individual basis. If we have good health insurance provided by the government, even if it exists with high tax costs, people are more willing to pay for it when they see that they are getting something for the money.
Q: Won’t a Public Option run private insurance companies out of business? Certainly a single payer plan would eliminate the insurance industry?
A: Why are so many American’s protective of and sympathetic of the Insurance Industry? These are people who will cancel your coverage with one late premium payment. These are the people who will let you die in order to comply with their policies. The insurance industry does not care about us, they care about profits. The insurance companies exist to make money, not to provide affordable health care. They provide as much health care as they have to in order to get money. The insurance industry is manned by people who will deny claims the first time they are filed even when they are covered under your policy because they know most people will not appeal the denied claim. The insurance company has people calculating the cost of paying claims against law suits for denying claims and they will do what is best for THEIR bottom line.
I want health care reform. I firmly believe there is ZERO chance that we are going to get a single player plan any time soon. You know they say that for most alcoholics they can’t address the problems in their life until they “hit bottom.” In a similar way, I am sure that the United States is not going to address our problems in health care until we hit the health care bottom. I am certain that I am flapping my gums, that I am a voice crying in the wilderness, and few will hear what I advocate, and fewer still will agree with me. Being on the losing end of an argument doesn’t make me wrong. Sometimes stuff is true even when no one believes it.
Article submitted Sunday, July 26, 2009 & read 696 times.
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