Sunday, August 18, 2013

Instead of Obama-care, Extend Medicare for Everyone

 How much profiteering does the Health Care Industry need?
Private health care insurance is bleeding Americans dry.  Approximately 40 percent of Americans are without health insurance. Another way of looking at that fact is that "You can't get blood from a stone." 

Some in the Washington Capitol want to develop and implement a totally new health care program to insure all Americans.  Obama-care is not the panacea for all our ills.  It is a major program that was passed by the majority of Congress without ever being read and considered fully.
Some critics say that all is needed to reduce current health care costs is to approve legislation that provides malpractice reform and reduces the burden of the paper work.  The message is that developing and implementing such a "safety net" for the health care industry and for doctors/providers would save significantly on the cost of health care, which is naive at best.

Five years ago, here in Texas, Gov. Rick Perry and state lawmakers pushed a bill for health care medical malpractice reform that was approved by the legislature and then approved by Texans in a special election. The "theory" was that doing so would save millions for the industry and in turn for patients to reduce their medical and health care costs.  While the new laws did protect and save money for the industry and providers, health care costs and premiums continue to rise dramatically for insured Texans.

In fact, the ever-increasing costs are causing more employers to cut back or completely drop health care plans for their employees. There are a large number of Texans who no longer can afford to keep their health plans, while the number of Texans without health insurance continues to escalate.  A major concern is that 40 percent of Texas children are without health care coverage.  Obviously, the approved medical malpractice reform legislation did little to reduce health care costs.  In fact, health plan premiums continue to increase.  It is happening in most other states as well.

Furthermore, current health care plans do NOT cover all expenses; most only cover a maximum of 80 percent and have co-pays and/or high deductions before the plans “kick in” coverage.  Consequently, a secondary insurance is needed to cover costs not paid for by the primary plan.  Very few Americans can afford to purchase and maintain one health plan, so forget about two health care plans.

One of the big concerns and a large contributing factor to high and increasing health care costs and premiums is the cost of providing health care and/or ER services to uninsured Americans, to legal and illegal immigrants and many American children, who have no coverage.  The cost of providing health services to these segments of the population is consistently more than any issues relating to malpractice pay-outs and/or the burden of paperwork issues.

In the U.S. there are 12 million illegal immigrants, who at one time or another will need medical services that they can not and do not pay for.  The result is that either taxpayers must finance those services or the burden for payment is diverted from the health providers onto those who pay for their own health care via increased premiums.  Most health care plans increase premiums every 6 or 12 months for various reason, including that of maintaining or increasing high profits.  In the state of Texas, health care providers were given more power and legislative permission to increase premiums for any or no reason and at any time.
As for health care reform in Washington, what is wrong with modifying or tweaking Medicare and extending it to all Americans?  Part of the reason may be that the medical and health care industries fear a 30 percent cut in profits. That may be the foremost reason Congress does not want to extend Medicare.   Medicare is in place and works for the majority of Americans.

Currently, many doctors will not take Medicare patients.  Many do not take NEW Medicare patients, while many doctors do not accept any new patients at all --- whether or not they may have their own private insurance.  There are reasons for these actions --- not the least being that Medicare often cuts its payment to providers by 30 percent.

There are many more significant problems within our health care system than the issues of medical malpractice and the burden of excessive paper work. Yes, these issues may be inherent in the system, but they are not the most important and more costly factors.

While Medicare may contain some problems and issues, it is a health care system that works for most Americans.  So, why not modify the program and tweak the problems and issues in order to extend it to all Americans?  And yes, there is rampant fraud inherent within the system and it is abused by many.  But there is no reason to "reinvent the wheel" to develop a completely new system, like Obama-care.

Another concern with developing a completely new health care systems is that how do we know whether Congress and the health industry could develop a new problem-free successful system?   Why make Americans guinea pigs for an untried and tested system?

In the US, Republicans vow to eliminate Obama-care but they do not provide a better alternative.  The alternative is in front of our eyes.  It is called Medicare and it works.  Extending Medicare for all Americans is the best solution to many of our health care problems.

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