A Dialogue about Healthcare

23 04 2008
Recently I received a Myspace message from a friend of mine that reads this blog. She asked what “The Emperor” would do about the healthcare situation in this country. I wrote the following message back to her:
 
“Here’s the short version of what I think:
*It would make taxes skyrocket
*General healthcare quality would go down. In countries such as Canada, when people get diagnosed with severe diseases such as Cancer, the mortality rate sucks compared to those with similar diseases in the U.S. because they have to wait so long to get anything real treatment because of the bureaucracy. Also if the government gets involved doctors are likely to be pressured to order the cheapest tests and treatments, instead of the best ones. Insurance company employed doctors often face similar pressures from their employers today.

*The gross cost of healthcare would go up. When people without insurance today go to a physician, they aren’t usually charged the maximum fee set by law. If an insurance company is charged the bill, the physician does charged the maximum legal rate. Thus, if the government was being charged, every physician would charge the maximum rate.

*Creating a third party bureaucracy costs lots of money. Paying extra people to run all this just creates unnecessary costs.

If I were the Emperor of the United States, I would do like the State of Arizona does, (only on a federal level) which is make 100% of individual healthcare costs 100% tax write offs. That would make healthcare more accessible to millions of people, without creating additional gross costs. I would also set maximum limits on how much doctors can be sued for in malpractice suits. One of the main reasons why doctors cost so much is the high price they’re paying on malpractice insurance.

Let me know what you think about all this…”

She responded with this:

 “Kaleb-
hey thank you for your thoughts on the matter here. i ask because i am insured through my employer and yet even now when my chronic illness flairs up i still feel that going to the doctor isn’t much of an option. why is that?? well, even though i have insurance, i still go to the doctor and have extensive testing done and my insurance company will only cover 80%. the remaining 20% is still hundreds and thousands of dollars when all the testing is done. my insurance company has capped my out of pocket at 5K. this 5K is more than a quarter of my income. this just isn’t something that i can feasibly pay thus i don’t go to the doctor and my illness continues to wreck my body.

also, because this condition has been diagnosed, now i feel that i am stuck with my current employer simply so that i can retain my insurance benefits because if i changed jobs, then i will have to take on a new insurance company that will see my condition as pre-exiting and it will not be covered. so now my medical condition is also limiting me from employment options. buying from the private sector would also present the pre-existing challenges while charging me double what my employer charges for insurance. and being a person that loves my leisure time, i think that we should all be able to take a 6 month vacation to go tour Africa if that’s what we want to do and we can afford to do so. with my health insurance being tied to my employment, even if i saved all my pennies to pay for my trip and all my bills, i still wouldn’t be able to go because i would lose my health coverage. this is simply not a risk that i can take, thus i must maintain my job and am only allowed 2 weeks vacation a year. this is not freedom in any sense of the word of you ask me.
I’m not sure exactly how i feel about taking on a national healthcare plan in the US. i do think that possibly you make some valid points. however, i can also look to countries like England where they have the best preventative medicine in the world because they are trying to keep costs low because they do provide for their citizens health. it just makes more sense to give someone access to a dietician now to keep their diabetes in check rather than cutting off their foot down the road because their health declined because they couldn’t receive the preventative care necessary. i also look at countries like Japan where 80% of the countries hospitals and doctors are privatized yet every single Japanese citizen can go to the doctor when ever they need to and are not given a bill for the services received. Japan currently has the longest life expectancy and the lowest infant mortality rate in the world. Japan also orders for tests such as M.R.I.s and cat scans at a rate of 8:1 compared to the United States.
a few things that these countries have done to help with costs is that every year they sit down with the doctors and the insurers and negotiate prices for every single test or procedure that can be ordered. this is the set price nation wide. also, these countries have decided that insurance companies will not be able to make a profit on basic services. they are still permitted to make profits on supplemental insurance for the wealthy members of society that want the best doctors money can buy.a final thought for you. if you were to be a bad guy and go and do something ‘bad’ then our government guarantees you access to council and defense for free (paid by my tax dollars of course). and then you are found guilty and go to prison, now my tax dollars are paying for your health care too. you get sick in prison, you get to go to the doctor, you get to have the tests and operations and you get the pills needed, all paid for by my tax dollars. if my tax dollars can go to paying to keep ‘bad’ people healthy, then why on earth cant they go to helping those of us that are productive members of society?? just seems a little backwards to me.oh and a really fabulous documentary that recently aired on PBS concerning the health care systems of other capitalistic market driven countries can be streamed online. i highly suggest the watch.

 

 

 

i don’t think the solution is going to be an easy one and i think that we are going to really have to think about how we want our system to operate in an efficient and cost effective manner, but what is painfully obvious to me is that we can not let our health care system continue as is putting millions of Americans into bankruptcy every year. we have much to learn from these other countries that have paved the way forward to a healthier and happier society for their citizens to live in.
cheers,
Janelle
oh and i very much like the emperors take on lots of other stuff too =)”
 
I wrote her back saying:
“Thanks for your e-mail about health care. You do raise some important points, and revisions should definitely be made to our current system. It is however, a tricky subject to deal with. I think that discussions like this can and do make a difference in how things get done in our society. On that note, do you mind if I post your response on my blog page? I can keep your name anonymous if you want. And also, we should hang out again sometime soon.”
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