Hero or Pied Piper?
Published: April 1, 2010 at 8:18 pm
Every industrialized country on Earth delivers health care to its people at a far lower per-person cost than the United States. How do they do that?
First, other countries generally control drug prices, allowing reasonable profits without gouging. American drug companies spend as much on advertising as on research, so there’s serious fat to trim.
Second, they simplify. Many use “single-payer” systems, like Medicare that our seniors enjoy. They cover everyone, and a single agency pays all bills. Red tape is eliminated because, basically, it’s only necessary for doctors to record patient ID and what work they did.
In a few countries, doctors work for the government and receive a regular salary like they do in our well-liked military health care system. In addition to very little paperwork, there’s no billing.
Finally, the most saving is achieved by making insurance companies nonprofit, or eliminating them completely. Our insurance system is stunningly complicated and unjust. Overhead is massive, and completely unnecessary, as many countries demonstrate.
So, with dozens of examples of working and very popular health systems that have been fine-tuned for decades, what do we do? Run away from efficiency with Obamacare.
Obamacare expands our grossly expensive insurance system. It forces everybody to buy expensive insurance or forces taxpayers to buy it for them. There are rumors of price controls, but they’re certain to be deal-infested and feeble.
Obamacare makes it harder for insurance companies to deny or cancel coverage, but why not just end the legislation at that?
It will work. But it’s not “a start” to anything. Like our current system, it doesn’t correct the fundamental error of basing health care delivery on profit.
Doctors incur heavy costs dealing with insurance issues, so naturally a vast majority of them want a single-payer plan like Medicare for everyone.
But single-payer doctors were specifically excluded from all Congressional hearings. A few who tried to speak were quickly arrested. Democratic leaders had made a deal with big contributors to keep single payer “off the table.”
Like Bush, Obama made a deal to keep drug prices high by not controlling them. American-made drugs will continue to cost more here than they do in Canada, where prices are controlled.
Are there alternatives? You betcha!
Rep. Alan Grayson, a Democrat from Florida, has introduced a four-page bill that allows any citizen to buy into Medicare at cost. Some subsidies would be needed, but this dynamite bill is a real start that can completely replace 2,200-plus pages of weasel words. Pelosi has refused to hear the bill.
Or, any congressman can introduce a three-page bill changing the starting age of Medicare from 65 to, say, 50, with scheduled future reductions.
Jobless older workers desperate without health care are so numerous that few congressmen could oppose this bill. Gutless radio hosts wouldn’t dare criticize it. Democrats wouldn’t need corporate contributions; grateful voters would re-elect them for years.
Obama had an easy trail to Mount Rushmore in sight, but it was blocked by huge piles of lobbyist money. So he opted for a risky, industry- written bill that could lead to a political blood bath for his party.
Clearly, change hasn’t really come to America.
Disclaimer: This commentary makes Democrats look pretty disgusting, which they are. However, Republicans are far more disgusting, but more skillful at lying about it.
- John Kromko, a Tucson Democrat, is a former state lawmaker who is now a community activist.