The U.S President is expected to hack away at opposition this week to the Democratic Party’s health care reform bill in an evening ‘everybody better listen’ talk to Congress and the citizens. Meanwhile, the whole health care fog and the effort invested in it are threatening to use up the capital of the democrats before they get to the climate change fight. Both bills are disasters and deserve quiet deaths.
The effort does light up the media and gets some ideas a little sunlight. One can hope that the health care fight will do just as prophesized, take the energy and capital out of the CO2 wars. But before that happens, a lot more citizens need to learn enough to be informed about how health care works.
Health care is a giant chunk of any country’s economy (more than 16% and growing fast), especially where technology can be researched and ultimately applied. The most common ways to get the financial arrangements done is hard socialized medicine, a kind of quasi-socialized health care and private financing. The U.S. is already a quasi-socialized system and it works, better than the politicians and media would have you believe. Those not getting care are the seriously mentally impaired, for which some added attention is due and the method of bankrupting families after the fact.
Yet there are uncountable problems in the U.S. system. Most revolve around the behavior of insurers. The terms, the procedure reviews, the payments, the pricing deals, and other issues are rife in the ‘business’ of taking people’s money and then paying the costs as needed. The insurers are not insurers at all. They are not even a service anymore. But they have immense political power. The ‘business’ is all about cash flow, keeping as much money as possible coming in and as little as possible from going out. What else could be expected?
The insurance or the cost issues don’t go away when socialized into a quasi or full social form. One way or another, there has to be some limit on what providers will charge and what users will pay. Quasi and full form socialized systems leave a bureaucrat to negotiate or decide. That can be on both an individual level or on a system wide level. When there is the problem, who decides? All these systems ration, both in the services made available or the funding to pay for services.
Fixing health care in the current democrat bill up for our examination is about the money. They’re using the excuses of those with impairments of income or mental facility to force a more fully quasi-socialized system in route to the full-socialized system against a full private system. With that comes power, life and death power mind you. On that basis alone, the democrat’s bill needs a killing.
Are there other paths? Of course there are. There are countries all over the planet with systems that work differently, both better and worse. But Americans for some reason are just deaf or too elitist to look and learn from the experiences of others. Which is where the links come in.
This link is to an interview with T.R. Reid who has a new book (The Healing of America) out about how health care is handled in other developed countries. It is surprising that infant mortality and life expectancy can go up while costs can be around one half of what Americans pay. There are some grasping hands taking fistfuls of money out of the U.S. system. The interview is a quick read.
This link takes you to T.R. Reid’s Frontline documentary about his visits to the U.K., Japan, Germany, Taiwan and Switzerland. Reid’s book is for sale now, but some sense of what he’s saying is in the PBS video. His conclusions are available when forwarding to about 51 minutes in, and one gets a firm sense of what’s possible. The U.S. already has gotten partway in to better systems. Medicare, Medicaid, the Veterans systems are each strikingly similar to systems in full national use.
The healthcare debate could be a boon to the U.S. economy, but it isn’t looking good and the future is grim with the political effort and media followers busily grasping at our money and lives. Technology has made health care something to marvel at from perspectives as young as only a couple of decades. But what is being learned is that across the developed world limits are needed, for consumers, providers, the financing system and government.
The ability to trust a ‘market’ with life and death with such an incredible amount of money involved, the very structure of economic survival for people with a sickness or injury, and the gross inequality for basic healthy living are good issues to fight over.
For this writer’s view one issue stands out, its that the health care system as Americans know it isn’t a market. The markets are state sized, rife with contractual exceptions, limitations, huge overheads and profits. America’s health care providers are the richest in the world with insurance and overhead costs to match using the lever of pain and suffering for illness, injury, death and at the end, bankruptcy to extract their fees. That leaves the people, business and governments who pay little choice; there isn’t a market as we’d recognize it. It’s a system and it’s a failure.
The knife in the heart of the U.S. system should be the more than 16% of Gross Domestic Product sucked into the system with far less than the optimal outcomes. Workers, business, investors and government are letting at least 8% of GPD disappear into a maw of the ‘health care system.’ But little attention is paid to the difference when releasing that money back into other parts of the economy. Imagine everyone getting a 8% raise in the midst of a recession.
So you wanna fight about health care? Be sure you know what you’re fightin’ for. Obama has led the U.S. by letting the democratically controlled Congress set up the fight, rather than opening the chance for the people to learn what can be done or even to establish a strategy to get the fight into small sized, digestible battles that could get the American economy into the 21st century, a massive leadership failure.
Its time to be getting some of that GDP back and using it to solve other pressing problems such as driving a to lower energy and fuel component in the economy.