Thursday, June 18, 2009

It's not wise to panic over healthcare crisis

It's obvious there is a healthcare crisis in America, and while a majority of Americans want a national healthcare system, an even greater majority doesn't want to pay for one.

Yet, still, while there's a cry for relief for the 40 million without healthcare, there are no people lying in the streets crying because they can't get the help they need in hospitals in the U.S. The reason is that in the U.S. there is a law stating that no person can be turned down for care.

Is there really a health care crisis, or is this something we are just being told? We are all told there is a crisis, yet I no of zero people who don't have access to it.

I have written before on this blog that the reason the cost of medicine is so high in the country is not because there is too little government involvement in healthcare, but too much. In fact, HC prices never started to go up until 40 years ago when the government got involved.

The truth is all the people who already receive free healthcare are flooding into already crowded emergency rooms, and driving up the cost for everyone else.

Say Joe Thomas has Medicare, has a cold, and knows he can receive free healthcare in an emergency room. Therefore, instead of using his head (no pun intended) and staying home, he goes to the ER.

Now, if he had had a doctor and went to see him, that doctor would have assessed him in the office (a $50 charge) and prescribed an antibiotic if that (a $10 charge). Since he has no insureance, he goes to the ER, where, because doctors are afraid of being sued, it is mandatory that all people coming in with cold symptoms have labs drawn, an breathing treatment, and an x-ray. The cost of this visit is over $1,000.

You can see right there why free healthcare is driving up the cost of medicine. Yet, consider also that when demand goes up (more patients in the ER) and supply stays the same (limited # of nurses, RTs, Drs, and medical equipment), the price automatically goes up. It's a matter of economics 101.

Thus, if we provide free healthcare to 40 million plus more Americans, that means there will be 40 milllion more poeple with the option of flooding the ER.

Now granted many of these will see their family physicians in leiu of going to the ER, but still many of those people will flood already flooded ER rooms.

It's crazy I know. And I'm sure I'm not the first to warn you guys that a nationalized healthcare system will not solve the healthcare crisis. When millions of people get something for free, the people who do pay will be forced to pay more.

Other than making the healthcare system more expensive, no government program ever costs as little ( a trillion dollars the current HC bill is expected to cost) as it is estimated, as estimates are usually low to make the bill sound better to those potential signers.

Plus, a new government program may be irriversible regardless of whether it is successful. It will be the new Holy Grail to go along with Social Security. As you may not remember, the Social Security program FDR drafted was orriginally supposed to be self supporting.

We all know it is not even close to that, in fact it is failing. And even though we know it will run out of money as baby boomers retire, no politician can change it for fear he will lose popularity. And you all know what happens with an unpopular politician.

Obama said, "If the private insurance companies have to compete with a public option, it will keep 'em honest and it will keep... their prices down."

Is this true? Or, will a public healthcare system work the same way as the public school system, whereas people would like to go to better private schools, but choose to go to the free government run schools.

Plus, private insurance companies aren't even going to try to compete with a public one, they are going to want to become part of it. So, you can see how easily this Obama plan will turn into a Nationalized Healthcare plan.

However, we will be told that it's not a National Plan. We will be told you can keep your healthcare as it is. We will be told you can keep your current doctor. We are told what we want to hear so we buy into the plan. And, then, once it's approved, it will slowly morph into European Socialistic Healthcare System.

Yes there is a problem with the status quo. But drastic change may actually make things worse.

People want the security of their own healthcare plans, but they do not want to pay the taxes to go with it. And, if this healthcare program goes the way of other government programs before it, it is doomed to be less pretty than the current drawings on the blackboard.

Therefore, rather than making a drastic move and passing a bill few people have read nor understand, it may be wise to create reform in another direction.

Rather than give free healthcare (well, it's not free since we will be paying for it through higher taxes) to people, we ought to do two things to make healthcare cheaper and more available to the masses:

1. We ought to make tort reform. If ER docs weren't fearful of lawsuits they wouldn't order frivolous procedures that drive up the cost of medicine.

2. We ought to get rid of third party payers: Instead of getting your insurance through your work, you should get your insurance yourself. If you are directly paying the medical bills, you will pay more attention and question the bill before you.

Likewise, when you are the patient, you will question when an RT comes into your room and sayd, "I'm going to give you a breathing treatment." You might say, "Um, I'm not short-of-breath, so I don't need that.

Also, since you are flipping the bill, you will be more apt to request the doctor provide you with a generic prescription rather than just the most popular, expensive and convenient.

Everybody deserves a chance to good health, and the American Healthcare Sytem already guarantees that. So, instead of panicking and making rash changes, politicians (and giddy Americans) would be wise to stand back, consider the consequences of another government program, and consider their options.

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