Monday, November 23, 2009

Health Care - The Manic Approach

Are you up to your eyeballs with opinions on health care? I certainly am. It's time to make some decisions and get this matter established on a realistic road. The 2,000 page monstrosity cobbled by Democrats and Republicans is complicated beyond the point of usefulness. There have been too many political fingers in the pie. Personally, I don't think people like Barney Frank, Thomas Dodd, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are capable of writing health related legislation, or even understanding our national health care problems. It is inconceivable to me that Barbara Boxer, Lorretta Sanchez, and John Murtha can cast a vote that decides on a vast new health care system. In addition to my concern over the  competancy and motivations of these politically biased people, I keep returning to the fundamental question; is our federal government capable of managing such a huge and critical part of our lives?

The alternative isn't all that compelling either. The system is now at least partially controlled by government regulation (or lack of regulation) of the pharmaceutical industry and the medical insurance industry. These are two of the most powerful lobbying groups that operate in Washington. Their influence has become so large as to be staggering. They control a significant number of votes in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. These two groups have had a long time to get it right, and they have, for the most part, failed. It is important to understand exactly what they have failed to do.

The insurance industry has not provided special arrangements for those who are mentally or physically handicapped, nor has it provided for people that have "pre-existing conditions". The majority of Americans look to our national government to assist in these circumstances.

The insurance industry has been subjected to legal decisions favoring ridiculously high penalties in malpractice lawsuits.  The majority of Americans look to our national government to protect Doctors, Hospitals, and other health care workers from extravagent penalties.

The insurance industry has not found a way to protect hospitals from the misuse of emergency care by indigent applicants. Uninsured, homeless, and very poor people use emergency rooms at hospitals as if they were a Doctor's office. The hospital must absorb most or all of the costs of treatment.  Those that can not do so and remain fiscally sound - fail. When they close their doors their regular patients and the entire community loses a primary source of medical care.

The pharmaceutical industry may be the worlds largest confidence game. They are able to finance years of productive and unproductive research by pricing their saleable products at hundreds, or even thousands of times the cost of making a particular product. No one really knows or controls the relationship of production costs to research costs to selling price - but the pharmaceutical companies are rarely unprofitable. Of course that is a good thing. Without profit a company fails. The question seems to surround just how much profit is reasonable. Free market competition doesn't work very well in this industry. 

Pharmaceutical products are typically "blind" items. There is no way a consumer or competitor can tell if the price is too low or too high. The typical result of this problem is that the pricing is established too high, the consumer is abused, and the drug producer can pay employees exorbidant salaries and still make a terrific profit. Most Americans think our government should find a way to better control the pharmaceutical industry and to bring it's profitability into line with other industries.

The point is made, is it not?  Most Americans expect our government to play a larger role in the health care industry. At the same time they are reluctant to have partisan politicians manage health care. In my judgement, we are trying to find some compromise that will improve the availability of health care, insure those who are now uninsurable, and reduce the overall costs of health care. 

I have read only several individual pages of the current health care legislation being proposed. I find it to be contradictory and overly complex.  It does not appear to  satisfy any of the above concerns - or if it does they are well hidden in mumbo jumbo verbiage. Everything imaginable, from hangnails to headaches,  has been thrown into this bill with the government deciding the level of treatment rather than insurance companies and Doctors. This is not good legislation. Almost no one including the politicians who must vote yea or nay, have read it or understand it's provisions.


1 comment:

Rain said...

Well keep in mind that the same arguments were used against Medicare and Social Security without which not too many seniors would have much of a life in their 'golden' years. Until they added in a drug provision under Bush, Medicare was doing pretty well in covering its costs (it's overhead runs 5 or 6%) and might have even then if they had kept the power to bargain for lower prices on those drugs like the VA does. As it stands, it just gave a lot of money to pharmaceuticals and threatens all of Medicare if costs aren't brought down. Why they didn't allow bargaining is beyond me as insurance companies do it all the time. The price of some drugs are not the same for what your insurance company pays vs. what you would have to pay if you bought it yourself.

To me, the whole system is so corrupt, that I don't have a lot of faith in it being fixed either.