Friday, June 26, 2009

Health Care Reform

I don't know if any of you are following the ongoing health care debate, but what is happening over the next several months has the potential to profoundly affect all of us for generations to come.
There is much debate as to what is the best approach to handle this country's health care crisis. There is a general consensus that what is going on now with private insurance has failed. But there is no clear consensus for a solution.
If you are generally healthy, you probably have no idea whether your insurance is good or not. If you have been unfortunate enough to use your health care insurance, you know down to the last dollar how good your coverage is.
In my opinion, the ONLY way to achieve true health care reform is to remove the for profit insurance companies from the picture permanently. The big insurance conglomerates and HMO's have done more to diminish the quality and availability of good health care than any single force. Just how did they do that? Quite simply by diverting insurance premiums to CEO salaries and stockholder profits.
This is a link to the 15 top health insurers profits and CEO salaries in 2007:
Payola for congressmen:

The simple fact is that as insurance premiums have risen three times wages, the reimbursement for providers, and hospitals have steadily declined. Furthermore the overall reimbursement for needed tests and health care approvals for patients have declined. I'm sure if you have dealt with health insurance recently, inevitably you have been denied a needed procedure, test or surgery. You may even have an unacceptably high deductible, rendering your insurance worthless.
Don't take my word for it. Here is former CIGNA insurance executive Wendell Potter's testimony before Congress about the shell games for-profit insurance companies are playing with your health care:

The current fear tactic being carried by opponents of true health care reform (Republicans, and Blue Dog Democrats) is that you will no longer have a choice in insurance; "Socialized Medicine"; you will lose your "great" coverage.
Now for facts:
1) There are over 45 million uninsured people in this country.
2) When the uninsured need health care, they usually wind up in the local emergency room; the cost of emergency care is fully three times standard care.
3) Your tax dollars already pay for those visits, believe it or not.
4) We have socialized medicine in this country already; it's called Medicare and it operates at 1/3 the cost of private insurance plans, despite having a decidedly unhealthier population.
This is due to low administrative costs.
5) There are many people in Congress who are profiting on keeping the system at status quo; in other words, they are getting paid to keep the for-profit insurance companies fat and happy.
6) Health care costs are the biggest reason for bankruptcy of families in this country.

The opponents of health care reform would have you believe that the US has the best health care in the world. But do we?
The truth is, while we have the most expensive health care system, we have far from the best system. In fact, among industrialized nations, we have the highest infant mortality rate, and the lowest ratings in terms of access, disease prevention, and equity. In other words, if you are wealthy, you can buy great health care. But if you make below $100,000 your health care is marginal at best:

So now what do we do about it?
The only true reform option is Universal Health Care. The For-profit insurance companies must be removed from health care. Health care needs to be provided for everyone.
Senator Bernie Sanders has an online petition for a Single payer (universal healthcare) option. If you truly care about your future healthcare (and life), you will support this petition:

Don't fall for the hype about a single payer option is costing too much. It costs too much not to have a single payer option. Write your Congressmen/Senators and the White House. We MUST have true health care reform. Anything less than a single payer program; taking the profit mongering insurance companies out of the mix is not reform.