If you think health care is expensive now, just wait until it's free!I think that is an interesting quotation to receive on the day of President Obama's Health Care Summit.
At the Summit the President said:
The United States spends more per capita on health care than any other industrialized nation, yet by numerous measures, Americans are in poorer health. Medical costs can cause personal bankruptcy and threaten the global competitiveness of many companiesWe have been told in the past that one of the ways other nations subsidize their industries is by having national health plans, where the cost of health insurance for workers, for example in the auto industry, is paid by the taxpayers and not the purchasers of automobiles. Makes cars marketed overseas more competitive.
I see the need for Health Care Reform of some sort, but having lived in the UK for a year with the nearest US military health care an hour away, I am not sure I favor the British Health Care System. Not the French model. And, I worry about the fact that while US Citizens drive north to buy prescription drugs in Canada, Canadians drive south to get procedures done.
Here is the part that bothers me. The current health care system consists of a given number of providers (physicians, nurses, PAs, NPs, technicians and facilities). A large amount of money is going into paying for all that. If there was excess capacity, it would be used to deal with more patients or disposed of for its economic value. If there was insufficient capacity people would be without health care. We are told people are without health care. It would seem that the first step would be to increase capacity. That does not appear to be one of the main goals of the various proposals on the table. Instead, we are talking about insurance to bring more people into coverage.
So, who is going to work on the next person added to the insurance rolls?
As an amateur in this area it seems to me that as we bring people into coverage, as we have in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, we need to increase the available labor and capital for health care. Otherwise we will end up rationing health care.
If we ration health care it would seem that we would likely end up doing it in one of two ways. First, we would make the time period between requesting an appointment and receiving one longer (this is supposed to be what happens in the UK and even Canada). The other thing we would do is refuse treatment to certain people for certain conditions. If you don't have private health care you might not get reconstructive surgery after a mastectomy or after a certain age you might be denied certain time consuming or expensive procedures.
I would like to see this issue of where the additional health care is coming from discussed up front by those making the decisions or voting on them. I like the idea of expanding health care to those who don't now have it. I just want to see it done in a reasonable and reasoned manner.
Regards -- Cliff
PS: My recommendation is to start now to train more Physicians Assistants and Nurse Practitioners and as part of their payback for their training put them in Public Health Service uniforms for several years and locate them out in places where there is thin medical coverage, be that in rural locations across the Great Plains or in Inner City Ghettos. Having hands on people is the first step to improved health care.