This weeks topic was my suggestion. I must confess - any liberal/progressive streak hiding in me tends to rear its head when the subject of healthcare is the topic of discussion. There are many directions this discussion can take but this is just a short blog so I will toss out a few things and let you, dear reader, make up your own mind.
Three out of five personal bankruptcies in the US are the result of medical bills (2013 study). That is upwards of 643,000 bankruptcies. Check Snopes for details. Look at this chart to compare some popular drug costs internationally -
The difference? Those other countries employ a single-payer system. In the US single--payer is as offensive a term in the medical industry as is gun control to the IRA.
Funnily enough though - what are Medicare and Medicaid if not single-payer systems? Many Medicare users are covered by private companies in the form of Medicare Advantage plans (which at minimum offer the same coverage as Medicare and a variety of additional coverages) or employ a Medicare Supplement plan that picks up some of the costs not covered by Medicare Part B (which covers 80% of the cost of part B services). Advantage and Supplemental plans are offered by private insurance companies. For example, my Advanage plan is with Aetna. Medicare plan coverage prices are negotiated by the government. Many Advantage plans cost nothing beyond the basic $114 monthly fee automatically deducted for Medicare B that is automatically deducted (as mine).
The fear/contempt of single-payer systems here is what led directly to the abomination known as Obamacare - which is failing and fading fast if many of the media reports are to be believed.
So what is the point of this statistical mish mash? I am a proponent of a single-payer system. There will always be demand for private healthcare - the rich folk will always want their exclusive care providers. They simply will NEVER accept being limited to the same providers as the masses. I frankly could care less - the discrepancy in what those people can afford compared to the average citizen is directly proportionate to the income discrepancy.
The government "death panel" argument (remember Sarah Palin?) forgot to mention that the current "death panels" now are for-profit insurance companies and their actuarial staffs. Just what you want - coverage wholly dependent upon profitability, yes indeed.
The hurdles ahead are numerous and difficult. The VA crisis of the past several years - decades in the making IMO - fuels the opponents of single-payer. Mismanagement is no stranger to any healthcare system but it borders on criminal when it involves those who sacrifice all to protect our way of life. But the problems are fixable.
Interestingly enough I have never experienced any major issues with our healthcare system save one. I have a fatty tumor on my neck and my RadioShack insurance refused to cover its removal. The insurance company said it was cosmetic only and so not covered. Guess I missed the ugly rider on the policy but what the heck - what else are beards for. But even through the 10 years Lynn struggled with HD we had no issues. We were very lucky. Of course HD is not a very Dr intensive disease - since it is incurable we basically experimented with drug combinations to control the symptoms as well as we could. She was covered by Medicare for 9 of the 10 years.
Its an election year and change s in the wind. Here's hoping it hits our healthcare system. IMHO profit should never prevent someone from receiving health care and we absolutely need to care for the mentally ill betterif it is even possible to call what we currently provide care.
That's a very quick look at this weeks topic. Check Ramana's take here. Check Pravin's blog here.