Health Care

Posted: September 23, 2009 in healthcare

I am completely torn on the health care debate.  Over a year ago, after watching the movie “Sicko”, it was clear to me that health care for all was the only clear path for a moral nation.  How could you allow people to be sick, to live with disease, or to die.  And, maybe even worse, how could you stand to send millions of people into financial shambles if they are forced to have problems or injuries treated with no health coverage.

Here’s the thing.  I haven’t changed my stance on health care.  I still think it should be provided to all, somehow, someway.

It’s the “somehow, someway” that I’m torn over.  I understand capitalism and economics enough to know that free health care isn’t the answer.  But how do you federally regulate the system so that it’s fair to everyone.

Sure, we could regulate the cost of all procedures down to the bare minimum.  But don’t hospitals, insurers, and doctors have at least some right to earn a good living?  Sometimes I think it’s criminal for a doctor or surgeon to make $500,000 to $1,000,000 per year, knowing that money comes from inflated insurance costs and expensive procedures that most people just could never afford, but are forced to undergo just to live.  At the same time, I think, “well, that doctor or surgeon went to school and worked his or her ass for about 10-12 years to learn how to heal the human body, so they should be entitled to make that kind of money.”  You get my dilemma?

Both fortunately and unfortunately, long gone are the days of the town doctor that shows up to your house with a little satchel and does what he can to help and might accept a side of beef for payment.  Fortunately, because today people don’t have to battle illness on their own.  They don’t have to automatically assume that the flu might take their life.  They don’t have to have their broken bones set by a family member and then braced with a couple of pieces of wood and some string.  We have a plethora of doctors, clinics, and hospitals.  We have prescription medicines that help us breathe better, sleep better, hurt less, fight off bugs, regulate our blood, and battle fevers.  We have procedures for all types of injuries and problems that have been studied, practiced, revised, improved, and repracticed over the years, such that procedures that may have been impossible 100 years ago are now common and routine.

But, unfortunately, because all of this comes at a price.  We feel we have a right to be treated immediately and effectively for our respiration problem, but forget that the machine that just x-rayed our chest cost about $350,000, and someone has to pay for it.  We sue surgeons and hospitals for any procedure that doesn’t go quite right, and they in turn charge that much more for the service because of their rising insurance costs.  We eat fast food, drink sugar, and barely exercise, yet wonder why in the world we keep getting sick 3 – 5 times a year, and why our joints hurt so much when we turn 40, and why we’re so sluggish all the time, in need of more coffee or Coke.  We can’t believe the hospitals would charge $20,000 for a simple surgery, yet we forget that the surgeon studied for many many years, and probably deserves to be very well paid, considering that his/her job is to help people live longer.

So, now, I no longer really know where I stand.  Free health care, but at who’s expense?  Subsidized health care?  But again, at who’s expense?  Can, we, as a nation, adjust to longer waits and only-as-truly-needed procedures?  Are we capable of taking some responsibility for our personal health habits?  Is it any more fair to federally mandate the cost of a surgery than it would be to federally mandate the price of a large pizza?

Yes, the health care industry needs to be held more accountable.  They need to be consistent.  They need to be more open.  It should be far less difficult to find out how much something costs, and why.  It should not be common practice to charge two different patients two different costs for the same procedure.  These types of things make me sick.  But I know these things happen in other industries as well.  The only difference is that the other industries aren’t necessarily enlongating my life, or the life of my friends or family.  So I just don’t care quite as much.

I don’t know the answer.  I only hope there is one.  Because any nation, whether Christian or Muslim, wealthy or third world, should truly and actively care about the physical well being of its citizens.  To me, that is the one unshakable fundamental to this debate.

  1. Erin Edelen says:

    Most people don’t realize that when a claim is submitted to a health insurance company from a Doctor or Hospital that the insurance company usually only pays 50% or less of what the claim is for and then the Doctor or Hospital has to write it off. This has always seemed odd to me. If there is a maximum that insurance companies will pay for each procedure/diagnosis. Why can there not be some type of regulated fee schedule that every Doctor or Hospital should go by. This is completely unfair for people who do not have health coverage and must pay out of pocket. Some places will do some type of self pay policy or discount it if you pay it all up-front at on time. But how many people can do that? If there is a government run insurance program, there needs to be a reasonable case-worker to patient ratio. That was the case worker can weed out the people who abuse the system. The TennCare/Medicaid system has an awful case-worker/patient ratio load. There are so many people that abuse the TennCare/Medicaid system for drugs, which our tax dollars go to.

    I am ALL for healthcare reform – IF it is done the right way.

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