Health care on life support


Bill Forhan

 

American’s can sense a bad deal when they see it. Obamacare is a bad deal. American’s have been calling for repeal for the last three elections. They have not been calling for a repeal and replace. 

Politicians keep saying they can cut health care costs by eliminating the profit motive. Well, they’ve had eight years to prove their theory and look what has happened - insurance costs and deductibles have escalated beyond reason. It is not sustainable.  

Here are some undeniable, uncomfortable economic truths that we continue to ignore on this issue:

First, removing consumers from all responsibility for verifying the accuracy of the cost of services is a formula for disaster. We all know we are more careful when it is our money. When the government or an insurance company is paying the bill we are simply not as vigilant.

Second, when the government mandates minimum coverage we are forced to pay for service we don’t need or want.

Third, when insurance companies are negotiating with the government or large employer groups, individuals and small employers end up at a competitive disadvantage. They simply don’t have the same buying power and often end up subsidizing the coverage of the larger buyers.

Finally, when the government is the payer they control costs by limiting reimbursements to providers. This is an economic fact of today’s health care economy. It has two very nasty outcomes. The first is that health care providers inflate their bills because they know they are only going to get 40 – 50 cents on the dollar from Medicare or Medicaid. The second is that many doctors refuse to accept Medicare patients because they know they won’t be reimbursed for the full cost of care.

The Colorado Springs Gazette had an opinion piece last week that addressed the problem of health care costs better than any I have read in a long time. It was titled, GOP proposes another stupid health care bill. Their point was it was just “..another stupid health care bill that does nothing to lower prices and ease access to medical care.”

I have provided a link to it on my website.

The Gazette got it right.

The problem is Washington is focused on insurance. Insurance is not health care. Insurance is simply a way to pay for health care. Do you really believe that the Federal Government can reduce the cost of health care by establishing what insurance policies have to cover, who has to be covered and how it will be paid?

None of the “Health Care” bills proposed so far does anything to address fraud or frivolous lawsuits. In fact, having insurance nearly guarantees more lawsuits by lawyers who have no medical background but can convince a jury that the doctors were negligent in your treatment. The unfortunate result is frivolous lawsuits drive up the cost of health care to all of us.

The Gazette points out that none of the bills proposed to date does anything to give Americans more doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, physicians assistants, hospitals, clinics, low priced drugs or neighborhood wellness centers. In other words, none of these bills do anything to increase competition. 

The United States has 2.56 doctors per 1000 population. Compare that to Austria 4.99, Norway 4.31, Sweden 4.12, Germany and Switzerland at 4.04. 

With an aging baby boomer generation now increasing the demand for health care, none of the health care initiatives coming out of Washington does anything to increase the supply of medical providers.

Access to good affordable health care is a basic human need. It is time that we recognized focusing on a big government mandated solution is not what made America great. And copying the failed solutions of the European socialists will not work.

It is time Congress repealed Obamacare and began focusing on real solutions like health savings accounts, tort reform, increasing the supply of medical providers, building incentives for private insurance companies to diversify their product offerings, and innovative private industry solutions that create low cost service options.

Anything else just moves us further down the road to an unsustainable government program that limits our freedom.

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