Sunday, August 2, 2009

Healthcare Reform: Simple Truths

For those of us who believe that healthcare reform is vital to our personal health and our national security, and for those of us who believe that a single-payer option is not only desirable but necessary, it is time to display our passion. It is time to expose the bumper-sticker attacks on healthcare reform with bumper-sticker truths of our own. And to those who complain that my truths are incomplete and cherry-pick statistical information, I say, “So what? Why should the rules that I play by be any different than yours?”

TRUTH #1: GOVERNMENT DOESN’T RATION HEALTH CARE. INSURANCE COMPANIES DO.

What is managed care? Rationing. Why not cover pre-existing conditions? Rationing. Why do 14,000 Americans lose their health insurance every day? Rationing.

On the other hand, Medicare and Medicaid are portable, affordable, and cover pre-existing conditions.

So if you qualify for government healthcare, you are not subject to rationing. If you own private insurance, you are.

TRUTH #2: SINGLE-PAYER HEALTHCARE IS BETTER FOR YOUR HEALTH.

America, the nation that is 33rd on the list of infant mortality, has a higher infant mortality than Slovenia, the Czech Republic, and France. Most if not all of the countries with a lower infant mortality rate have single-payer systems.

Americans, in the nation that is 30th on the list of life expectancy, have a lower life expectancy than Boznia and Herzegovina, Jordan and France. Most if not all of the countries with higher life expectancies have single-payer systems.

It has been argued that infant mortality and life expectancy are not valid measures, that other factors outside of the purview of insurance companies apply. But the United States sits at the back of the pack of industrialized nations in terms of accessibility, efficiency and cost-effectiveness, coordinated care, and chronic care management.

TRUTH #3: SINGLE-PAYER HEALTHCARE IS MORE COST-EFFECTIVE THAN PRIVATE INSURANCE.

Americans spend more per capita on healthcare than any other country in the world. America spends more as a percentage of GDP on healthcare than any other country in the world. Americans spend more per procedure than any other country in the world.

Personal spending on healthcare – spending to pay for healthcare-related taxes, insurance, and out-of-pocket expenses – is higher than any other country in the world.

Spending on healthcare in America has increased at a rate higher than nine European Union countries (including France) and Canada.

Combining the above three truths, a cost/benefit analysis clearly demonstrates that the insurance industry produces a poor product at a high cost. If the insurance companies were automobile manufacturers or steel producers, they would have been forced into bankruptcy long ago.

Finally, if you have a soft spot in your heart for the health insurance industry...

TRUTH #4: A PUBLIC OPTION WILL NOT KILL THE INSURANCE COMPANIES.

In France, the single-payer system pays for 75% of most healthcare bills. Nearly everyone purchases supplemental private insurance to cover the remaining 25%. Competition is healthy and insurance companies are making substantial profits.

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