Health Care in America
Health Care in America
Health care in America is the subject of much debate. On one side are folks who favor socialized health care because they see major problems with the current system of health care in the United States.
On the other side are people who want to repeal Obamacare because they are wary of socialized health care. They have legitimate reasons beyond the invectives hurled their way by social liberals such as "You don't care about poor people!"
Health care in America does have shortcomings. We will take a look at the symptoms, the causes, and the prescriptions.
Socialized Health Care
Socialized health care is in essence redistribution of wealth. Under this scheme everyone, rich or poor, will have the same level of health care in the United States. If anyone can afford to go to Mayo Clinic, everybody should be able to with socialized health care. For this to be available to all people in the United States will require redistribution of wealth through progressive taxation. In other words, the fifty percent of our citizens who pay income tax must foot the health care bill for everybody.
One of the chief ideas of Obamacare is to use medicine to achieve "social justice." To do this, doctors will need to consider more than the needs of the patient in front of them. They will need to consider if the value of their time, these tests, this medicine, and that procedure, would be better spent on someone else—someone else in a "protected group" let's say, that deserves affirmative action medical care to make up for past medical discrimination. Or someone who is simply younger and in better overall health.
One of the architects of Obamacare, Dr. David Blumenthal said: "government controls on health care spending are associated with longer waits for elective procedures and reduced availability of new and expensive treatments and devices."
Another of the chief architects of Obamacare (Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel) complains that health care in America is more expensive than in countries with socialized health care because "Hospital rooms in the United States offer more privacy. . . . [and] physician's offices are typically more conveniently located and have parking nearby and more attractive waiting rooms."
The best health care in America is very expensive. There is probably not enough of it to go around for all people to have it even under socialized health care. The only way to "level" health care so that it is the same experience for everyone is to eliminate the top tiers.
Some health care in America is decidedly limited. For instance, there are only so many livers available for those people in need of transplants. This, and other problems—such as who gets the limited number of beds at Mayo Clinic—is currently solved primarily by who has been the most successful at living their life—who has amassed the most wealth. This is part of what is so upsetting to the "social justice" crowd; they do not believe a successful person should receive better health care in America than a bum. It's not "fair."
The effort to repeal Obamacare is supported by those who believe that to grant government control over health care in America is to accept a huge loss of individual liberty—the freedom to make our own decisions about our health care. Socialized health care gives government the power to decide who lives and who dies.
The fear is that this power may one day be wielded to reward or punish citizens according to their political views, as it has been historically in every Socialist country. We catch a glimpse of this when we see the health care advisor to President Obama, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, explain in 2008 how support was to be drummed up for Obamacare: "every favor to a constituency should be linked to support for the health care reform agenda. If the automakers want a bailout, then they and their suppliers have to agree to support and lobby for the administration's health care reform."
The only way the government can control health care costs is to ration care. It can try to reduce salaries for doctors and nurses, but this leads to the loss of talented people, who may choose other lines of work instead of medicine. Government can slash what it will pay for medicine and procedures, but this will reduce capital investment in research and development—the one area of health care in America where we unquestionably lead the world today—because we still have a semblance of a free market system that rewards innovation.
Socialized health care will mean that 100 million Americans will be forced to give up their health insurance—which they are overwhelmingly satisfied with—and lose the relationships they have established with their current doctors.
The most precious asset your family has is its health. Do you want to make informed decisions about your health care or do you want a bureaucrat to do it for you? Government control has sinister implications, such as in regard to euthanasia. Suppose the government decides every American is required to have a certain vaccination that you disagree with; or a certain mind-numbing pill? Or that every male child should be on Ritalin?
I saw on the news some time ago a story about an arrest warrant issued for parents who did not want chemotherapy for their son—a chilling violation of American freedom. Some doctors do not believe in chemotherapy—it can kill you. Do you want a bureaucrat to decide that you, or your children, must have government mandated chemo or radiation or surgery—or that you may not have it?
Those who wish to repeal Obamacare are also concerned about the fact that health care in America represents 17 per cent of the entire economy. To give government total control over this sector appears to align with the failed political ideology known as Central Planning.
Is there anything in your life you think would be better run by government bureaucrats? For most of us, the answer is a laughable "No." Obamacare will create over 100 new bureaucracies employing hundreds of thousands of pencil pushers who contribute nothing to National Wealth. Governments do not create wealth—citizens do, and they do much better the less the government interferes.
Central Planning is the centerpiece of Marxism. It is used to give government complete power over the lives of its citizens. Central Planning has been implemented in the Soviet Union and other communist nations. The result has always been horrendous failure, that robs people of all incentive to be productive, efficient and innovative.
Central planning produces a miserable standard of living everywhere it is installed. Even the "poor" in America live far better than did 95 percent of the citizens of every Socialist regime—the exception being the 5 percent who were in the government.
What Social Liberals want—what they always want—is to make citizens dependent upon the government teet because this creates a permanent electoral constituency for them.
The message this conveys to people is that there is no need to make anything out of yourself and contribute to society, the government will provide everything you need regardless. There is no need to study in school; read great books; learn a trade or skill that is beneficial to your community; behave as an upright citizen; work hard at your job; save money for a rainy day: government programs will take care of you with the sweat off the brow of other people.
Medicare and Medicaid
To the Left in America, the solution to any problem is: more government. But the chief cause of the problems we have with the health care system in the United States is that the government got involved in the first place.
Medicare and Medicaid are the culprits that will cause our federal budget to double to 40 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (the value of all goods and services produced) of America in the future.
Does anybody recall hearing about the health care crisis we had in the 1950s? There wasn't one. But the Left had a near monopoly on government power in the 1960s, which it used to enact Medicaid and Medicare. Medicare and Medicaid were supposed to cost the taxpayers $4B a year. Fraud and waste in these programs run about $100B every year.
The cost for Medicare and Medicaid is now over $600B per annum, with unfunded future liabilities of $80,000,000,000,000. That is how successful the government has been so far, in managing just a portion of America's health care. So what does the Left say? We need more, much more!
One solution is to get the government out of health care altogether by privatizing Medicare and Medicaid. We need to go to a free market solution with patients and doctors in control—no government middleman.
Americans on Medicare and Medicaid are constantly subjected to unnecessary tests (which are invasive, painful and dangerous) and unneeded surgeries. And the results in patients lives are often undesirable.
This is not the fault of greedy doctors as social liberals would have you believe. It is primarily because the government will pay for any test or surgery ordered, and to do as many as possible reduces the odds of a doctor facing a malpractice suit.
We need tort reform to eliminate most malpractice suits. Doctors practice—there are no guaranteed outcomes. There should be no suing doctors unless they are willfully negligent with malice and forethought. The cost of malpractice insurance is astronomical today.
Many of these unnecessary procedures are over-priced as well. That is because the government sets the prices for half of all health care spending in America today. There are more than a million prices set by the government for medical care in the United States. Some prices are set too high, resulting in a surplus of those services; some are set too low, resulting in a shortage of those services. That is what happens when the state interferes with the free market.
Our health care in America is run by huge bureaucracies, with the usual bureaucratic problems of fraud, waste, and exorbitant administrative overhead. Medicare rules alone are 133,000 pages in length. The so-called private sector of health care in America is better termed the regulated sector.
To receive government reimbursement for health care services, health care providers must play by rules imposed by the bureaucracy. Insurance companies are burdened with thousands of state and federal mandates, regarding what services they must supply. HMOs are also heavily regulated and are in fact creations of the U.S. Congress by virtue of the HMO Act of 1973.
Centralized governmental control of health care has spawned dissatisfied patients; restricted access; huge numbers of uninsured people; unacceptable numbers of medical mistakes; a lack of information technology; and upwardly spiraling costs. These issues are exacerbated by our growing reliance on the government to pay for health care services.
A big problem with Medicaid is that it is jointly funded by the states and the federal government. The feds set the minimum requirements for the program, but the sky is the limit for states—they decide what coverages to provide. This means a state politician can promise anything to the people of his state, knowing the federal government is required to foot half the bill. Obviously, this is a formula for states to try and outdo each other and expand what is covered.
Fraud and waste run rampant. The New York Times reports that Medicaid is "so huge, so complex and so lightly policed, that it is easily exploited." Since our entire system of health care in America is only 60 times larger than Medicaid maybe we should put that same bureaucracy in charge of the whole enchilada. What harm could it do?
The FBI reports that 3 to 10 percent of all expenditures for health care in the United States are fraudulent. That is exactly why your car or home insurance companies include a deductible that you must pay for each claim. They know that with a deductible in place, fraud goes way down.
A study in 2005 of the New York state Medicaid program found that hospitals purposefully admit more Medicaid patients, keep them longer, and run more tests and procedures on Medicaid recipients than necessary, simply to increase billings to the taxpayers, and improve their bottom line.
The fraudulent billings uncovered in this study include ten Medicaid patients who totaled 800 emergency room visits in one year—55 of them for headaches; 73 claims for people who were dead; claims for Viagra that was then sold on the black market; one dentist who billed for 1,000 procedures in a single day; and over a billion dollars for "speech therapy" in New York City alone.
Why Does Health Care Cost so much in America?
Don't we all notice the price of technology steadily comes down unless it is medical technology? That's because the government doesn't set the prices of computers, cell phones, and plasma television sets. In most commodities consumers exercise value judgment about the dollars they spend; and this causes goods and services to become better and cheaper.
Health care is currently one of the few industries not properly influenced by market dynamics. The essence of the problem is that the consumers (the patients) are not the buyers. They do not possess the financial leverage, which consumers have in almost every other sector of our economy, because they do not pay the bills.
Health care has been wrongly insulated from competition that brings about higher productivity and lower cost. When there is a commercial market in health care, prices react much as they do in any industry. The lesson of nearly four hundred years of free market capitalism is clear: We should expect to get more choices of higher quality and falling prices if the government will stay out of health care.
The government spends 46 percent of every dollar spent for health care in America. 31 percent of people with health insurance obtain it through the government.
According to the law in America, health care workers cannot be forced to participate in the killings of unborn babies. There is a lawsuit pending now that alleges this "right of conscience" is sometimes violated. A Catholic nurse, Catherina Cezon-Decarlo, was told she could lose her job or even her license to practice nursing if she refused to assist with the killing of a 22-week-old unborn child.
The right of conscience is under assault in American health care. In 2007, the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynocologists declared that health care providers may not exercise their right of conscience if it might "constitute an imposition of religious or moral beliefs on patients."
32 percent of health care professionals who believe in God report that they have been pressured to be involved in procedures they object to on ethical, moral, or religious grounds. 20 percent of medical students who believe in God say they have decided against a career in obstetrics or gynecology because of perceived pressures to participate in abortions. Are we saying you can't deliver babies unless you are willing to kill them too?
President Obama said last year that he considers "reproductive care" (boy am I sick of that term), which means abortion, to be essential care that should be covered by Obamacare.
But 71 percent of Americans are opposed to abortion being paid for with their tax dollars—making them accomplices in murder—and the same percentage do not think health insurance should cover the slaughter of human beings in the womb, the womb in which nature places them to be protected by their mothers.
If proponents of death for the unborn have their way, a multitude of pro-life people will leave the medical field. 87 percent of Americans think it important that right to conscience remain in place for health care professionals—of whom 95 percent say they will quit the health care field if forced to violate their consciences.
Apparently health care associations disagree with individual right to conscience. The American Medical Association's position has become that doctors "must concede moral authority to the legal system." I think NAZI doctors were told exactly the same thing before they began their experiments on victims of the Holocaust.
The American Nurses Association goes along: "It's the patient's right to make decisions on care based on their beliefs, not the health care provider's beliefs."
In the New England Journal of Medicine we find these audacious words: "Qualms about abortion? Do not practice women's health."
So if we ban all moral people from the health care field, where do moral people go for health care? 88 percent of American adults surveyed say it is important that they share a similar moral view as their health care providers.
Regardless of whether they have health care insurance or not, women in America today have mammograms more often, their breast cancer is detected sooner, their breast cancer is treated faster, and their survival rate is higher, than women in countries with socialized health care.
In Canada, cardiac procedures are restricted for those over 65 to save on costs—exactly when patients might need them most.
Under socialized health care in England, health care is rationed using a formula called QALYS (quality adjusted life years). If you need a treatment, first the cost is divided by the number of years you are likely to benefit. The older you are the more likely the treatment will be denied, so that precious government funds can be put to better use treating younger patients. And as British health official Michael Rawlins explains: "If we spend a lot of money on a few patients, we have less money to spend on everyone else."
Countries with socialized health care must and do ration CT scans and MRIs; and they have far longer wait times for all health care treatments. As the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada said: "Access to a waiting list is not access to health care." (This in reference to the one year waiting list for hip replacements in Canada.)
The pushers of socialized health care who are advising President Obama believe that America needs to slow down the development and use of new medical technology—to save money. It is true that two-thirds of the increased costs of health care are the result of American medical innovations.
Of course, these innovations save many lives. In the last thirty years health care innovations in America have decreased your chances of dying from a heart attack by 33 percent; and your chance of dying from a stroke by 50 percent.
Solutions to the Problems of Medical Care in America
Patients should pay cash for ordinary health care services; pay substantial deductibles when they use insurance; and have full health care insurance only for catastrophic illnesses and unexpected accidents. People should be able to buy this insurance nationwide from the Geico lizard. It works for all other kinds of insurance.
The Left will claim that nobody will serve the poor if this happens. That is nonsense. In America, we should have learned by now, that—if the government will get out of the way—supply ALWAYS rises up to meet demand.
Someone like Walmart might get into the medical business. Decry that if you want but truthfully, Walmart has been the greatest innovation for the poor since bread. If we eliminate the government acting as middleman, the free market will deliver the best possible medical care for an affordable price; absent the red-tape and bureaucratic meddling.
Whenever an industry becomes mired in special-interest rules, deregulation is the answer. America has successfully deregulated trucking, airlines, the phone system, and power generation. In every case, dire predictions of chaos did not come true, and the public benefited greatly.
The federal tax code discriminates against people who buy their own health insurance, and has since 1943, by making you pay with after-tax dollars unless you get your insurance through your employer.
Insurance should be portable. It should be sold across state lines. Insurance should be disconnected from our employment. We should not be forced to buy policies that include in vitro fertilization and obesity treatment if we don't want to. There are 2,000 health care benefits that are mandated by the government that drive insurance costs up by an estimated 35 percent.
9.7 million of the uninsured are illegal aliens. 14 million people qualify for government programs, but haven't bothered to sign up. 18 million Americans are working and making enough to buy insurance through their employers but choose not to (half of those make over $75,000 a year; the other half make over $50,000).
The true number of poor without health insurance because they can't afford it is 8 million people, but they still get medical treatment. It is against federal law to deny them treatment at any hospital in the United States.
Interestingly enough, you can be legally denied access to a hospital in many countries with socialized health care because their hospitals are overcrowded and they have a shortage of doctors. Many doctors in countries with socialized health care have quit the field due to low pay, or immigrated to another country where they can get paid better. Doctors in countries with socialized health care also go on strike to protest low pay scales, leading to obvious health care crises.
We need to end mandates about what health care insurance must cover so that plans may be customized for individuals. People should have the freedom to buy a bare bones policy if that is what they want. And payments for private health insurance should be tax deductible.
The question here is our liberty. Big government has the power to oppress the people. Small government does not. Government has recently moved into our banking, insurance, and manufacturing industries in a major way. We have evidence of how well it works out when government sticks its big head in the private sector: witness the mortgage business.
The $787B stimulus package proves that government is corrupt—87 percent of those funds were doled out in congressional districts that voted for the current president. Do we want health care in America to become a tool of political patronage?
Obamacare will clearly take the decision about who gets a knee replacement away from people and their doctors, and give it to bureaucrats. You may be told you're too old for a colon cancer test. The British socialized health care system makes such decisions every day.
Money will likely be channeled away from the elderly and more toward community services provided by ACORN-like organizations. Everything involving government is politicized. Is that how you want health care in America to be? If the government is doing the deciding, then having political connections or political power will be what matters to the sick or injured. This is not a health care system for a free people. It is socialized health care for chattels of the state.
"Never let a good crisis go to waste" is the mantra of the Left—meaning—never let a chance to grab control over people's freedom, to enhance your own power, go to waste.
The Left wants redistribution of wealth through progressive taxation; and the power over every aspect of your life through central planning.
There are many Americans who are out to repeal Obamacare. Our Declaration of Independence and Constitution have provided us with a set of governing principles intended to leave us a nation of individuals both politically free and morally responsible.