Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Universal Health Care = Pro-Death

At least that's how it works in the UK. Arbitrary government guidelines dictate at what point a person deserves treatment. This story tells about how doctors are pressured to end medical care for the elderly. Another story recounts the tragic death of a premature baby because he was born a mere two days before the government standard for treatment. We must not let this happen in our country!


commoncents said...

Great post! I really like your blog!!

ps. Link Exchange??

Eliz. Lasky said...
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Eliz. Lasky said...
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Eliz. Lasky said...

I fail to see how the British government is acting any differently from a typical American health insurance company.

I don't think we'll ever see British-style healthcare in this country because our private insurance companies lobby too much to let that happen. The closest we could get would be to eliminate the income restrictions on Medicaid (the "public option"?), and I don't know if that will ever happen. Though it would be nice for all those people affected by today's record unemployment.

Regarding chances of health care reform, I think the parody newspaper The Onion puts it best:

PS The above deleted comments are just the above with an innacurrate url. I don't know what it is with this blog and links!

Philip said...

The difference: insurance companies can't order doctors to pull feeding tubes or refuse treatment to infants.

I hope you're right about the private insurance lobby--we'll see how it shakes out.

That Onion story is great!

Eliz. Lasky said...

Insurance companies don't have to forbid patients or doctors from doing anything; they can simply refuse to pay for it. With the cash prices of most treatments, surgeries, etc, that often has the same effect.

I don't imagine that private insurance will be what the minority of people use, as it is in the UK. Private insurance companies have created an efficient structure for distributing healthcare in the US; if insured, we can see a doctor with much less wait time than a British citizen.

However, the companies' denial of applicants with pre-existing conditions and their unaffordability for people who aren't poor enough to qualify for Medicaid are issues that need to be addressed. Also, doctors often bill health insurance companies for much more than their services are worth, as well as billing for unneeded services. This is probably why the AMA is against any sort of health insurance reform.

As it is now, most people (even insured) are one major illness away from bankruptcy -- which may be acceptable for the third world, but America?

Philip said...

Prices are definitely a huge part of the problem. Here are my two solutions:

1. Tort reform: cap the amount of damages that can be claimed in a malpractice lawsuit. This would cut the insurance rate for doctors overnight. We would reap the benefits.

2. Remove the borders that protect insurance companies from competition. You should be allowed to shop out of state to get your insurance. This would be a huge cost-cutter.

Eliz. Lasky said...

I agree that tort reform is important. However, I think this cost could be attacked more directly by doing more to prevent malpractice in the first place.

Specifically, I'm thinking of the part of the Reform Bill that funds the electronic upgrading and standardization of medical records. Even in 2009, many doctors keep paper files that are difficult to access outside their office, and they expect pharmacists to decipher their chicken-scratch handwritten perscriptions.

When I had a check-up while briefly living in another state, the doctor only had my words to go by. All my old doctor did was fax him a darn cover sheet! And I can't answer the question, "Have you had all your vaccinations?" That info is probably rotting in file cabinets in four or five different states.

Thank goodness nothing bad has happened to me yet, because it would be so easy. Doctors are blind when it comes to their new patients!

It would cost millions of dollars to upgrade computer systems and scan old documents, but I (and the President) think it would pay for itself by reducing redundant treatments and preventing some malpractice.

And as someone who has lived in multiple states, I definitely agree with you on #2. While I haven't noticed much of a price difference, it is annoying to have to switch policies. However, keep in mind that insurance companies are state-based because healthcare regulations vary from state to state. So to have a nationwide choice of insurance, we would have to replace state healthcare laws with national ones. Which might make some people cry "State's rights!" in a way unheard since the Civil War, especially in states like Massachusetts where healthcare laws are significantly different from the majority of country.

Since you want health insurance to be open to more competition, does this mean you support the "public option"?

Philip said...

A few thoughts on medical records:

"Competition" with a highly subsidized government option is no competition at all. I just wish health insurance worked like car insurance and life insurance.

Eliz. Lasky said...

The link doesn't work. Would you mind trying again?

Philip said...

Those links just won't cooperate!

Elizabeth said...

The thought of data theft has occured to me. Remotely accessible databases are big juicy targets for hackers, no doubt about it. However, I think that the benefits of a doctor having access to a patient's full medical info outweighs the risk. And you know, paper files can be mishandled too.

As for health insurance being like car insurance, we are starting to see that in Massachusetts. Everyone is legally required to buy it and just like Geiko won't turn down your lemon, MA health insurance companies can't reject you or price you out for having a pre-existing condition.

And what if healthcare was subsidized by the government? We expect our tax dollars to protect our property via the police and our country via the army. Does health not deserve the same protection?