Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Health Care UPDATED

Health care is one of my pet peeves. The richest country in the history of mankind should be able to provide adequate health care for it's citizens. I've read many many articles which say basically the same thing as this:

Via David Corn, commenting on the U.N.'s annual Human Development Report:
On a per capita basis the United States spends twice the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development average on healthcare, or 13% of national income. Yet some countries that spend substantially less than the United States have healthier populations. US public health indicators are marred by deep inequalities linked to income, health insurance coverage, race, ethnicity, geography and--critically--access to care."
We spend a lot of money on health care. And the consumers of health care know it (via Donkey Rising):
Two-thirds (66%) of insured adults say their health insurance premiums have gone up over the past five years, including 38% who say these premiums have gone up “a lot”. About one-quarter (24%) say premiums have stayed the same, while just 5% say they’ve gone down.


Nearly one-quarter (23%) Americans have had problems paying medical bills in the past year.


Almost two in ten (18%) Americans say health care costs are their biggest monthly expense excluding rent or mortgage payments. More than three in ten (32%) name transportation, and nearly one-quarter each say food or clothing (24%) or utilities are there biggest expense.
And yet, according to the U.N. report, despite our enormous expenditures, we don't rank all that high in terms of health. Meanwhile, 46 million American are uninsured.

I contend that we already have nationalized health care. No one is turned away from medical care. You either have health insurance, pay cash for care, or are indigent and go to the emergency room. However, there is a huge inequality in the quality of care that American's receive. For example, a poor kid with an ear ache may get antibiotics in an emergency room, but is unlikely to have a follow-up visit with a physician to insure the infection is cleared. Thus, we are penny-wise and pound foolish in that those who can't afford health insurance tend to be sicker (and cost more) when they finally do get care.

Remember (if you're old enough) the reputation of Kaiser as a health care provider in...oh..... say the 70's? It seems to me that terms like "assembly-line", "impersonal" and similar terms were used to describe the experience of patients. Funny. I don't hear that much anymore. In fact, having been a consumer of health services recently in the "private sector", I can tell you that a Kaiser-like plan looks pretty damned good. Impersonal? Perhaps. But what was your last experience like with doctor office personnel? And in terms of efficient? Certainly more than driving all over the county to see any number of specialists who don't talk to each other.

Many have written about the complexities of health care, and health care reform, and know much more I. What little I do know suggests that the time is now for a system of universal health care that is capable of delivering quality health care to everyone. I suspect this can be done for much the same cost as we currently pay, getting much more bang for the buck......providing we do it AFTER the Bush administration.

UPDATE: This headline says it:

Study Says Uninsured Lack Follow-Up Care


At 11:11 AM, Anonymous Blue Cross of California said...

Great blog I hope we can work to build a better health care system. Health insurance is a major aspect to many.


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