Images I am quite suspicious of a federal system that solves our medical and health care crisis. I am not suspicious that there is a real crisis but I am very suspicious of the solutions that I hear being offered by the president and the congress. It is not that there are not solutions that we need to pursue. The question is whether or not the federal government can establish a program that works and then can be paid for in an efficient and prudent way. The history of what the government has done with Social Security is all the proof I need. The system will be bankrupt in a few decades and hardly anyone seems determined to fix the problem. So Bush had a bad solution. Did the opponents have any at all? During the Clinton era the Democrats argued for fixing the problem and then when they opposed Bush they said everything was just fine thank you. In general both parties, but the Democrats in particular, would rather create another huge entitlement and then leave the debt to the next generation.

Make no mistake about the problem. A team of U. S. researchers form Harvard Law School, Harvard Medical School and Ohio University recently reported the following in the American Journal of Medicine.

1. 60% of bankruptcies in the U. S. are due to medical bills. 75% of these bankrupt families had health insurance but still were overwhelmed by their medical debts.

2. 92% of medical debtors had debts of more than $5,000.

3. 25% of firms cancel coverage immediately when an employee suffers a disabling illness; about another 25% do so within a year.

4. 15% of the U. S. population would be left with no coverage if the current overhaul of the health care system was installed.

Remember, none of these figures come from a politically partisan source. The two biggest issues here seem to be: (1) medical debt crushes some people in the U.S. and, (2) the cancellation of coverage is a huge issue. It seems to me that these two problems could be fixed without making the federal government the source of fixing every other problem in the system. Changes in supervision and monitoring could address these two issues without deepening our federal debt in the process. It all seems simple but the congress has a way of making the simple into a huge new problem once they work out a bill and turn it into law

I expect that we will continue to hear numbers cited from every side arguing that their case about the health care issue is right. The question does seem to come down to this: "Who do you believe and why?" Reagan once said that the worst words that you could hear were, "I'm from the government and I'm here to help you!" I do not doubt that government can help, in some limited and clear-cut cases, but administering a huge program to solve the bigger health crisis does not seem to be a sound solution from all I can see. I simply do not trust the government to do this efficiently and with fiscal integrity.

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  1. Chris Criminger July 8, 2009 at 7:27 am

    Hi John,
    Your words, “I simply do not trust the government” are telling (neither do I).
    The other side of the coin put differently is possibly over half of America believes the government should fix our nation’s problems or should in some sense “take care of us.” If that truly is the case, then not only does socialism rule with the vote of the people but government power and control in the future will some day demand total sovereignty.

  2. Adam S July 8, 2009 at 11:04 am

    I disagree with Chris’ assumption. Trusting the government to do something does not mean that people believe in socialism. It means that at least some of the people believe that the government can do its job of governing. Basic macro economic assumptions say that there are somethings that government will do better and something it will not do better. The issue is which are which.
    Clearly the medical system is broken. A friend was denied coverage for her pregnancy as a pre-existing condition. This wasn’t because she was pregnant when she got insurance, but because her last pregnancy ended up in a c-section. So this family had to pay for the delivery all on their own. This is a family who’s insurance is provided through a fortune 100 company.

  3. ColtsFan July 8, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    As an employee at a hospital, I am very concerned about the future national healthcare proposal that Obama is wanting to push. Here is my .02 from my perspective:
    a.) Illegal aliens receive free health care in the State of Illinois. Even adult illegals (no Social Security number, no driver’s license) receive free health care. Hospitals provide government programs and assistance packages that help them, regardless if patient displays a Mexican ID or a Honduras ID card (they have no driver’s license and no Social Security number). Of course, this “free health care” is not really free, because the real, actual costs are passed on to other consumers and also because the USA taxpayers are paying for it as well.
    Spanish-speaking illegals now comprise the far majority of our Emergency Room visits. In 5 years, the ER staff has gone from one bilingual translator to many translators on all shifts. In addition to all ER treatments, pregnant mothers who are illegal aliens also receive free healthcare as well for standard outpatient test and procedures as well. Every child under 18 can sign up for “free healthcare” regardless if they lack a SSN or if they were born in another country or not. Adult illegals have to sign a form, but once they sign up, then they receive free health care as well.
    We are interested in treating EVERYONE regardless of ability to pay. Our staff provides the BEST CARE for EVERYONE, regardless of background, and regardless of ability to pay or not.
    However, I do have one question though:
    My only question is why is it considered to be “racist” in our politically correct culture for me to point to documentated financial stats that show that USA citizens are paying for the Balkanization of a group of people who break our laws by coming in “un-invited”, commit crimes, and then receive subsidized, free healthcare, all thanks to USA taxpayers. I have seen many illegals attempt to engage in Social Security Number theft and identity fraud. Why is it “racist” and why is it considered to be “nativist” by “David Brooks conservatives” for me to point this out when the CFO at my hospital told me this in person?
    USA taxpayers are paying for the growing Balkanization of a group of people who chose to break our laws, and we reward them with free healthcare.
    Of course, it is not free because in Economics, there is no such thing as a “free lunch.”
    b.) Whenever, the subject of Government Health Care is discussed, the first question that needs to be asked is:
    what is the actual reimbursement rate for hospitals and providers?
    Obama will answer, “we need to enroll illegals and the working poor and others on government health care”, etc…….but if the reimbursement rate is only 6 cents on the dollar, then who is going to get shafted in the end? You are right:
    the hospitals are the ones getting shafted in the end.
    This means the hospital has to “write off” the rest of the bill, if the government only pays for pennies.
    Traditionally, MEDICAID has lousy and pathetic reimbursement rates. We lose money on every single patient who has Medicaid. Every single patient.
    We then transfer these costs to other sectors.
    c.) I have compassion on people who lose their jobs and insurance. Personally, I support the idea of Medical IRS that stay with the individual and are independent of one’s employment status.
    Every individual should be equipped with a Medical Savings Account, (combined with a high deductible, comprehensive, major medical insurance plan to take care of the heavy duty stuff like inpatient visits).
    Personally, I am not opposed to the complete eradication of the “government safety net.”
    I do believe that my taxpayer dollars SHOULD be going to pay for 100% of the medical care for the mentally disabled, for military veterans, for those who are truly hurting plaqued by diseases at an early age, etc.
    I think the “safety net” should be kept in place, while giving Medical IRAs to everyone else, along with tax deductions or tax credits to get the libertarian idea working.
    My only beef is when people abuse the system, causing the government to reduce the financial reimbursement rates even lower.

  4. ColtsFan July 8, 2009 at 12:14 pm

    I am sorry. I was writing fast, and I made some grammar mistakes above.
    a.) Instead of Medical IRS, I meant to say Medical IRA.
    I support the idea of Medical IRA.
    b.) For clarity,
    I do not support the elimination of the government safety net. I do not mind one bit if my taxpayer dollars go to paying or subsidizing those who are truly in need.
    What I do not like is when people abuse the system.
    And I do not like how people can break our laws and then come here and receive free healthcare.

  5. ColtsFan July 8, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    For problems with Socialized medicine, check these facts out:
    By the way, NHS doctors in Socialized United Kingdom do not go to NHS hospitals for the care of their own family members. They go to private hospitals, for the same reason that Canadians flood to North Dakota, Montana, Maine for their healthcare.
    The Daily Mail had an article on it recently.

  6. Chris Criminger July 8, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    Hi Adam,
    It depends on what you mean by the government doing something? If you mean a modest approach of the government fixing something or helping the system along (I agree, that does not neccesarily mean socialism even if it is more socialistic than what was before).
    On the other hand, if you mean the government taking over the health care system (which is not clear to me that is not what you are proposing?), if that is not socialism, I don’t know what is?
    It’s one thing for us to be talking about the government helping the system along. It’s quite another when the government becomes the system or takes over the system. Look for example what has happened to GM—–my understanding is the US government along with Canada’s government nows owns GM! If this is not socialism, then we need a discussion on exactly what it is then . . .

  7. Adam S July 8, 2009 at 4:36 pm

    All I was trying to say is that just because government is involved does not mean that it is socialism. Socialism is a word that has a specific meaning. Applying it to government because it is doing something you don’t like is using the word inappropriately. I agree that the country may be moving into a more government controlled health care system. That is not necessarily socialism. Socialism is about the economic system primarily, not about the political system primarily. What is being advocated by most, is a mixed system with both government and private participation. It is just not realistic to believe that there will be a jump to a single payer system. However much you don’t like the concept of a single payer system, it is not a move toward government control of the economy.

  8. thegroundworks July 13, 2009 at 11:00 pm

    Gov’t run medical health care may not be a bad thing IF it is funded properly and bogged down in red tape. Canadian health-care costs about 1/4 of what it costs per patient in the U.S. and has some of the best hospitals in the world (ie Sick Children’s Toronto) My best friend had a double-lung transplant and it did not cost him anything out of pocket. It was taken care of through taxes. I have had two operations and I rec’d no bill for either, nor did I need insurance coverage. I do not want this so called ‘socialistic’ health-care to disappear any time soon…it needs tweaking here and there but I would NOT trade it for anything.
    As a Christian I believe that it is a good thing that Canadians take care of each other in this manner. All can afford GOOD health care whether rich or poor.
    It is sad however to see two of our elite political parties attempting to dismantle (ie creating a funding shortage) to force the hand of Canadians into a system dependent upon insurance (no thank-you!!!)No doubt these parties have links to big money and likely hope to see their profits climb while Canadians pay out of pocket for additional expenses.
    I think in a civilized world medicine and health care should not be dependent upon income, rather integrated into the nation itself…or run state by state or province by province (in Canada it is governed provincially).
    PS Chris, you make a valid point about GM and socialism. That is bonifide socialism, and a poorly run corp. (ie GM) should not be subsidized by tax payer money….and Adam appreciate your clarification. Thanks guys!

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