I posted this in an MSN forum 3 years ago . . . my perspective has not changed.
Originally Posted by edfreeman
What's wrong with health care? Costs are increasing tremendously with no end in site. Maybe that's because we need to start looking for that end.
If you look at the issue of health care, and especially the approaches being suggested to deal with the soaring costs, you'll see a sharp contrast in the approaches suggested by the two sides. In my feeble mind, the price of health care is going up way faster than it should, and the drivers to that inflation need to be carefully studied, dollar by dollar, to figure out why. I don't know this, but I'll bet if you broke down a dollar's worth of health care to see, ultimately, where it all goes, you'd be surprised and disappointed at how much goes to people not providing that health care. Who are these people and why are they dipping into this till? A couple answers follow, along with advice on moving towards the right answer and which candidate is less wrong in this years election.
Tort reform was bantered around during the presidential debates as a way to control health care costs, and I personally don't think it received the prominence from either candidate that it deserved. Senator Kerry was quick to throw a number on the table to suggest that lawsuits weren't really a problem in the health care system, and GW didn't dispute it (I think, primarily, because he was just using the hatred of lawyers for political purposes and didn't have numbers of his own to throw around), but, as numbers go, the collateral costs of those suits weren't even considered. Those suits, whether malpractice occurred or not and whether the consequences of the alleged malpractice were significant or not, must be defended (which, by the way, employs yet another lawyer). Protection against such suits in the form of malpractice insurance costs big money these days, so big that it is driving some good doctors out of the practice or driving them to turn risky patients away. All of these costs are passed on to you. So, you pay for every lawsuit that occurs, whether malpractice occurred or not, and whether the consequences were significant or not. And, oh, by the way, even if the consequences weren't significant, a significant award can be given. And, it is quite likely that the lawyers will receive more of that award than their clients, very likely that if you added up all the money in the malpractice industry, the clients receive less than half the awards. You pay for this.
Bureaucracy is a nice big word to suggest overbloated administratium. And, the health care industry is loaded with it. Remember when health insurance was primarily for major health issues (major medical, it was called) and the more routine sniffles were handled between you and your doctor? Whatever happened to those days? Well, more and more stuff was added to that health insurance policy, and it seemed really really good at the time, to where there's not a single thing that you don't turn in against the plan. We loved this, the insurance companies really loved it, since they make a profit on insurance no matter what, and we all went merrily down the path of creating the machine. The end result is a whole new layer of people between you and your doctors, between you and health care. These people are "necessary" to process the forms at the doctors office, receive, review, approve (hopefully) those forms at the insurance company, and divide the money, your money (whereas, you used to write the doc a check for services rendered). Now, you may think this is great, but have you ever totalled up the cost of the premiums and co-pays paid by you and your employer and compared it against what was paid on your behalf for this care? Remember, the insurance companies always make a profit, and, in addition to the profit, they have to pay the people who do the processing and dividing (and, hopefully for them, denying). And, this is besides the extra people and paperwork the doctors have to do to try and get their share of the money. It's kinda like car insurance, but, instead of just covering accidents, the policy covers your brake jobs, tire replacements, oil changes, etc., we think that would sound good, but, since the insurance company always makes a profit, you can bet you'd wind up paying more. Can you imagine the cost of the paperwork the insurance company (not to mention Pep Boys) would have to do to make sure you really needed your oil changed?
Those are just two slivers of thinking. One thing is very clear, though, the system isn't broke because there's not enough money being fed to it. On the contrary, the more it is fed, the more it wants. Pouring federal dollars into the system is absolutely not the answer because it does not control the cost by lowering the price. You might think that your local politician is really going to lower your costs by paying part of it (with other people's money, of course), but the machine will just burp and ask for more.
Senator Kerry is proposing that we raise taxes (on other people) to pour more money into the machine. He has no interest nor plan to control the cost, he wants to "buy" this for everyone he can to get votes and increase dependence on the government to insure future votes. Government control of health care would be yet another thing that it doesn't do well, becoming a money pit that future generations would have to deal with. The machine we have is a bastion for fraud, which will grow as long as the money supply is maintained. Note that he wants to provide health insurance, not health care, also, which I'm certain the insurance industry would love (since they always make a profit). Never never let the government control health care.
President Bush is less wrong, but still contributes to the machine because he must, or be labelled as uncaring about sick people. He wants tort reform and wants the government to stay away from feeding this machine, the right thing to do. There is nothing more powerful in controlling costs than the American people spending their own money. When we write the check, we don't tolerate inefficiency and waste. Maybe a look backwards is all we need to fix this health care system.