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March 29, 2009

Universal care would cut costs

Penny wise, pound foolish. In her “As I see it” column (3/25, Opinion, “General Assembly falling short on children’s health”), Charron Townsend decries the Missouri lawmakers’ decision to strip financing for children’s health benefits. But let’s not limit it to both children and Missouri.

We face a nationwide crisis of bankrupting families with a health system that is wasteful and ineffective. It’s ineffective in cost versus benefits, enriching insurance companies and preventing early care and diagnosis of potentially devastating conditions that ultimately blossom into catastrophic and expensive treatments.

The conservative argument, besides the specter of “socialism,” is that the government will mess up. Any conscious person will say “What do we have now?” If, for example, we had one agency to straighten out the prescription drug monster, we could probably save millions on the cumbersome system that exists now.

Some estimate that shuffling records contributes to 40 percent of medical costs, so the new administration’s idea of having a national database for billing and record-keeping would reduce health-care costs significantly. An additional benefit would be a means of tracking fraud.

Businesses would also gain by relief from expenses of employee health plans if a national universal health plan were in place.

H.M. Brown
Westwood Hills

Comments

Engineer

KC Educator
I think another thing that needs to be done is to clearly define the problem. Who are the uninsured people? There are contentions that a share of them are healthy young people who could afford insurance but just don't want to pay for it. Another large segment is people between jobs. A third is made up of people who are legible under existing programs but just haven't signed up. It is also contended that illegal aliens are included in the number. There also are those who don't qualify for Medicaid, etc., and cannot afford health insurance.
It is a difficult problem. If you want the insured to assume some responsibility by co-payments, you may find that there is still a large load on emergency rooms. People will use them to avoid co-payments.

KC Educator

"More direct pay for health care, in the form of health savings accounts and other options, would return free market forces to health care, which is what drives down prices in any industry."

"Private charity is the answer for the poor and working poor."

I could see merit in both those ideas, and it's nice to finally be talking about what can be done.

The tax plan that I have seen rolls taxes back to the level that they were at under Reagan. No matter who you blame for the run away spending, you would agree that the defecit must be drawn down. We can not cut enough spending to create large enough surpluses to bring down the debt at this time. The only other alternative is to increase revenue.

The Bush tax cuts did not see a corresponding increase in charitable deductions, so I'm not really sure how the present administrations tax policy is going to change things unless you are talking about targeted deductions for those that give to charities that fund health accounts for the poor. Maybe this plan could lower costs and make healthcare affordable to the poor. I'm not sure that there is enough data.

I would also would contend that if the government would break the strangle hold that the AMA has on healthcare, costs would go down also. Limiting the number of candidates allowed into medical school has created an artificial shortage of doctors in this country. Some would say that allowing more students into medical school would water down the quality of care. It must be said that hundreds of qualified students applications to medical school are turned down each year based on the quota system established by the AMA. More doctors would mean better healthcare in poor and rural areas that are underserved presently. It would also drive down costs.

Mark Robertson

Whoops. I somehow accidentally hit "post" during the typing of entry.
As I was saying, Obama wants as many as possible to depend on government, thus giving more control to him and the Democrat Party.
More direct pay for health care, in the form of health savings accounts and other options, would return free market forces to health care, which is what drives down prices in any industry. This would also help the working poor and others.
The answers are really not that complicated, they just don't meet the political agenda of the left. The left is about gaining power and control by fooling those "educated" in government schools, and not about solving problems or leading with vision. Thankyou.

Mark Robertson
Independence

Mark Robertson

Private charity is the answer for the poor and working poor. Health centers could be set up where reduced costs or free health care would be given. Many doctors already volunteer at similar centers that now have government subsidies.
If the tax burden would be reduced on the top rate many wealthy and upper income would donate much more to charity. Instead,though, President Obama wants to raise taxes on the "wealthy" and lower the deductible level for charitable contributions for those making over 250,000. This is actually Obama admitting that private charity works, which is not what he wants. He wants us t

KC Educator

If poor service like that cost less than what we receive here, I'm more than willing to pay a little extra. Socialized medicine is not the way to go.

The proposals that I have read would allow individuals to pay more and take more responsibilities for themselves. The plans are to give coverage for the uninsured and the underinsured whom we are already subsidizing through emergency room coverage. Our choice is to pay what we are currently paying for those individuals (Which is more than any other country is paying per-capita while providing less services), not pay anything and allow people to suffer and die, or find a better way to provide services to those individuals.

There is a healthcare problem in this country that needs to be addressed. Just talking about why universal healthcare will not work will not solve the problem. If anyone has a better idea of how we can accomplish the goal of providing health care to the poor and working poor at lower costs while providing better services, that’s the conversation I would like to have.

NoMoreMrNiceGuy

Maybe the government could model their database and payment system from the one used by DCSE that has been revealed as horribly inaccurate and reckless by the State Auditor of Missouri.
Anyone that thinks government run healthcare is better than private run is obviously retarded. Government setting "prices" will only bring lower quality of healthcare. Politicians and lawyers will deem what is a "fair rate" for services rendered. Medical professionals will bail from the industry when the R&C is $8 on an office visit because Obama says so.

Stifled Freedom

With medicare and medicaide and large corporate health care contracts where everyone pays the same rate regardless of health status, we already have socialized medicine and just wont admit it.

Engineer

whispering
So you don't believe in "single payer" or government health insurance? "you should just pay for it out-of-pocket yourself and leave the rest of us alone". So everyone should take cared of their own and the government should butt out? OK, I'll join you. When do they refund all the money I've paid into Medicare?

Arminius

Pub 17:

"That breaks down into two parts, 'I don't know,' and, 'if Pub 17 has ever offered a factual post here.' The answer to both questions is an emphatic, 'YES!'"

There you go again. Neither one of those parts was a question. You simply cannot get your facts straight.

Pub 17

That breaks down into two parts, "I don't know," and, "if Pub 17 has ever offered a factual post here." The answer to both questions is an emphatic, "YES!"

whispering_to_kc

"If you want heart surgery or a hip replacement ..."

... you should just pay for it out-of-pocket yourself and leave the rest of us alone. I don't see why I should be forced to help pay "your" medical bills, the treatment designed to correct conditions brought on by your poor lifestyle choices and bad habits. Whatever happened to taking a little personal responsibility for your past actions and inactions?

Arminius

I don't know if Pub 17 has ever offered a factual post here. That fact of the matter is that a dog can get a hip replacement in Canada months before a human can.

http://esciencenews.com/articles/2008/10/31/wait.time.guarantees.not.likely.reduce.waits.joint.replacement.surgery

I've read that in England some patients who are losing sight in one eye are not allowed to have surgery because they still have sight in the other eye.

If poor service like that cost less than what we receive here, I'm more than willing to pay a little extra. Socialized medicine is not the way to go.

Marctnts

"...they provide more services at lower cost."

According to the WHO, the last part of your statement is correct. The US is #1 in per capita spending amoung the 191 member nations of the WHO.

The first part of your statement is questionable at best, however. According to the WHO, the US also ranks #1 in responsiveness of care. As this is the only consistent metric measuring actual services, and the US has the rest of the world beat in this category, I'm not sure how you would back-up a claim that other countries provide "more services".

Engineer

whispering
In all seriousness, we old people as a class will soon present a serious problem. As to John Kenneth Galbraith the consensus of the profession was that, for an economist, he was very tall. He was also very far left.

GCYL

“However, they provide more services at lower cost.” – Pub17

Speaking of teeny little flaws, this has been thoroughly discussed in this blog and your statement remains strongly contest as being factual.

Engineer

Pub 17
It's all in definitions. Long waits and only so many expensive procedures allowed, that's better? From all I have read, if you want first aid or treatment for the sniffles, government health care is fine. If you want heart surgery or a hip replacement, well, we'll see.

Pub 17

Then, Engineer, those horrid socialist systems all over the rest of the industrialized world must necessarily a) cost more and b) provide less service than our system.

However, they provide more services at lower cost.

Therefore, there's some teeny little flaw in your otherwise impeccable analysis.

whispering_to_kc

If [old people] must be covered at the same rate as [young people], everyone's premium must increase. Even if government is the payer, it must get the money with which to pay from the public.

"The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness." - John Kenneth Galbraith

Engineer

whispering
If high risks must be covered at the same rate as low risks, everyone's premium must increase. Even if government is the payer, it must get the money with which to pay from the public.

Arminius

KC Educator:

"Since leaders on both the left and the right are in favor of it, it must be a good idea."

Leaders on both the left and the right in Congress were in favor of invading Iraq.

 
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