Making Sense Of The Health Insurance Debate – Part IV

We’ve painted a pretty bleak picture of healthcare in our contemporary society, but there’s hope. The government is going to save us from all these problems.

Wait a minute. Is this the same government that pays hundreds of dollars for a wrench or screwdriver and thousands for a toilet? The same one that can’t find several million illegal aliens wandering around in plain sight? That’s run up several trillion dollars in deficits just under the current administration? That government is going to save us?

The government’s first entry into the business of health care came in 1966 when Lyndon Johnson got Congress to pass Medicare. The promise made to get it passed was that it would never cost more than one billion dollars a year. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, spending on Medicare in the year 2010 was $486 billion. A far cry from what they promised when they passed it.

Remember in our earlier discussions we realized there is no such thing as “insurance company” money—it’s policyholders’ money. Likewise, there is no such thing as “government money.” It’s taxpayers’ money. Does anyone really understand that?

That’s right. Every dollar the government pays to our doctors, hospitals and other providers—along with the money to pay all the clerks, bureaucrats and other government employees involved in administering the programs (not to mention their retirement programs and other fringe benefits)—comes out of the pockets of taxpayers. That’s you and me.

Now let’s think back to the problems of managed care, network lists, gatekeepers and so forth. About the only arrow in our arsenal in dealing with these outfits is our ability to change companies. If our company seems to get out of line with high premiums or too many restrictions or poor service or whatever, we can change to another company.

Where is our arsenal in dealing with the government? We can’t opt out and go to another government. We’re stuck with whatever rules they make, whatever costs they charge us, whatever straight-jackets they decide to put us in.

Here are a few facts that should open everyone’s eyes about government-provided healthcare as opposed to private healthcare. England and Canada both have total control of healthcare in the hands of the government. Let’s see how treatment under their programs compares to that in our private system—well, still mainly private.

The following figures are from “Investor’s Business Daily.” They provide some very interesting statistics from a survey by the United Nations International Health Organization.

Percentage of men and women who survived a cancer five years after diagnosis:
U.S. 65%
England 46%
Canada 42%
Percentage of patients diagnosed with diabetes who received treatment within six months:
U.S. 93%
England 15%
Canada 43%
Percentage of seniors needing hip replacement who received it within six months:
U.S. 90%
England 15%
Canada 43%
Percentage referred to a medical specialist who see one within one month:
U.S. 77%
England 40%
Canada 43%
Number of MRI scanners (a prime diagnostic tool) per million people:
U.S. 71
England 14
Canada 18
Percentage of seniors (65+), with low income, who say they are in “excellent health:”
U.S. 12%
England 2%
Canada 6%

I used to enjoy watching “The Dukes of Hazard” on television. Somewhere in the middle of most episodes when the boys found themselves in a seemingly unsolvable mess, Waylon Jennings would break in with a voiceover and say something like, “Remember, this whole mess started just because the boys happened to be driving down the road on their way to . . .”

Let’s remember from our earlier blogs where this whole mess started. We wanted to get our insurance companies to pay for our doctors’ visits. Look where that’s led.

If we want to straighten up the mess in healthcare, the first thing we’ve got to do is get the federal government out of it. No more federal mandates. No more telling insurance companies what they can and can’t do. No more insurance companies’ overriding our doctors’ treatment procedures.

Let the doctors practice medicine. They’re the ones trained for it.

Let the insurance companies compete for our business. Competition is the backbone of our capitalist system. It brings about better products and lower prices.

If I want to get a cheaper rate by paying my own doctor bills, I should be able to. If I don’t want to pay premiums to support hospitals that purport to “cure” drug addicts and alcoholics—only to turn them back to the streets after their benefits run out—I shouldn’t have to.

The only way we’ll ever get out of our current healthcare mess is to step back from the abyss. Loose private enterprise—doctors, hospitals, labs, insurance companies—to do what they’re best at doing. Let the government provide us with national defense and border security and leave our health alone.

Ø How good do you think your medical treatment is if you never have time to get to know your doctor and for him or her to get to know you because you have to change every two or three years?

Ø Who do you think does a better job of holding administrative costs and overhead down—a private company that has to answer to stockholders and directors or a government agency whose only supervision comes from administrators whose job importance depends on the size of their budgets?


About David N. Walker

David N. Walker is a Christian husband, father and grandfather, a grounded pilot and a near-scratch golfer who had to give up the game because of shoulder problems. A graduate of Duke University, he spent 42 years in the health insurance industry, during which time he traveled much of the United States. He started writing about 20 years ago and has been a member and leader in several writers' groups. Christianity 101: The Simplified Christian Life, the devotional Heaven Sent and the novella series, Fancy, are now available in paperback and in Kindle and Nook formats, as well as through Smashwords and Kobo. See information about both of these by clicking "Books" above.
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