Health Care: What Are Our Options?   2 comments

Health Care: What are our Options?

 It seems that our nation is divided over how to address the challenges in regard to health care.   For the most part the division is along party lines…democrat vs republican.   There is a fundamental difference between the parties.   As I see it, democrats believe that our social ills are best solved through government regulation and/or intervention while republicans believe that most of our social ills can be solved through the private sector.

 It seems that almost everyone…republicans, democrats, libertarians, etc…agree that our health care system needs to be fixed.   There is no disagreement that health care costs are rising at an alarming rate (and have been for the last 10-20 years).   Health care comprises one-sixth of our nations total GNP, and as health care costs continue to rise, the portion of the GNP may reach one-fifth, one-forth, etc.   Will our economy be able to absorb this continued growth…and for how long?  More and more middle class Americans are losing their health care insurance coverage resulting in more and more bankruptcies.   This has a negative impact on our economy as well.   This is to just name a few of the challenges before us in regard to our health care system.   See my previous postings for more.

Where do we go from here?   Can, or will, the private sector be able or willing to allow change to take place to meet the goals and objectives of providing most, if not all, Americans the health care that they need and deserve?   We live in a capitalistic economy where the priority is profit.   Don’t misunderstand, there is nothing wrong with profit.   Profit provides incentive for development and innovation.   It helps drive the economy for all.   The downside to capitalism comes when profit becomes the beginning and the end…our god.   That which we work for with no thought for those who may be left behind.

 Yes, we all have the same opportunities in life.   Anyone can rise to the top.   Or is this a concept that we believe, but may not be true?   Perhaps it’s true that anyone has the opportunity.   But is it true that everyone has the ability?   Each one of us is unique.   Each one of us has our own giftedness. But we are not created equal in the sense that we can all accomplish the same economic success .   I am reminded about an interview that I heard with Warren Buffet.   I don’t remember the exact words, but the jest of his comments were that while he had the gifts, intuition and environment in which to be successful, he said that if he were born in a different time and place he would not have been able to succeed as he has.   What I got out of this is that there will always be some who will succeed (financially) in any given situation, while there will always be those (probably the majority of us) that will not be so successful.   He felt that having been so blessed in this life, through his fortunate place in history, he needed to pay his fair share to help those who were not so fortunate.   He also said that he was able to shelter his resources from taxes and that was also not fair to those who had less.   He supports health care reform.

 Many presidents…republicans and democrats…over the past several decades have acknowledged the need for reform or have attempted reform, but have failed.   The private sector and their lobbyists are strongly against any regulation from government.   Why?   I think you can answer that.   Why have they been successful in blocking change to this point?   They have a great deal of power and money.   Their influence is sometimes frightening. They capitalize on the fear and distrust of governmental influence in our personal affairs.   They put out ads that perpetrate and exaggerate government ineptness, incompetence and graft.   This supports the republican philosophy of leaving the problem solving of our social ills to the private sector.   This further divides us as a nation.   We are becoming more and more polarized as a people.

 On the other hand, democrats (most of them) don’t believe that the private sector can or will meet the challenges that oppress and cause great harm to individuals and their families.   Is this a dangerous position?   Can government become too large or become too invasive in our lives?   I would say probably.   I would say that if we become more involved in our government individually that we can keep the proper balance.   There are issues in which government has no business getting involved.   It is up to us as voting citizens to decide what those issues are.   I just don’t think that something that touches each of us to the degree that health care does, is one of those issues.   I don’t believe that the private sector can or will meet our nations’ health care challenges.

 So, where does that leave us?   How do we bring these two ideologies together in bringing real reform to the acknowledged challenges with our health care system?   Can there be real reform without government involvement?   I doubt it.   How much government involvement would it require to see real reform?   This is debatable, but there must be real teeth in any legislation if true reform is to take place.   How can our republican friends find a place where their concerns are met while at the same time provide for the needs of lower and middle class families?   I wish I had answers for these questions.   There are a few moderate republicans who are willing to come to the table.   We need more of them.   I would be interested in hearing from anyone who reads this post as to how you think the challenges that we face can be met.

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Posted October 10, 2009 by terryflowersblog in Health Care

2 responses to “Health Care: What Are Our Options?

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  1. Thanks for your blog post, Terry. It really got me thinking about a lot of things regarding our current healthcare debate.
    I think you did a great job drawing the differences between the two parties, especially on this issue, and in a non-judgmental way. The thing that I find ironic is that a complaint most people would have against government is how beholden to corporations it is, yet for that reason we somehow choose to trust corporations over our government. Our representatives are elected to serve the interests of their constituents, but they often end up serving the interests of their largest campaign contributors – of which health insurance companies and the prescription drug industry are undoubtedly some of the biggest. Hence, we have a largely unregulated industry that puts its own profits first and its customers’ health, and even their lives, second. If you don’t believe me or think I am exaggerating, consider this statistic. The Robert Wood Johnson foundation, a leader on healthcare-related issues, recently released the results of a study looking at health insurance trends over the past 10 years. It revealed that in 10 years American’s wages have increased by 29%, but our health insurance costs have risen by 120%. That shouldn’t come as news to any of us. Then what about health insurance industry profits? Have they fallen as insurance companies are forced to ask us to shoulder more and more costs? Absolutely not. The study found that in the past 10 years health insurance industry profits have risen by 428%! If that does not make anyone who reads this angry or sound an alarm about our current system, then I’m not sure what will.
    The really ironic thing is that those of us who dislike government tend to flee from it into the arms of corporations that don’t have our interests in mind at all (unless we happen to be their stockholders). While it is questionable whether our government representatives have our best interests in mind, our government is the only system left to us by our country’s founders to address our needs on important issues. It is also the only system that we have a real voice in. Unless you are a wealthy stockholder, the health insurance industry will not listen to you as an individual. You can not vote the CEO’s of health insurance companies out of their jobs, but your government representative has to listen to you or risk being voted out of office.
    I understand mistrust of government generally, but at least the government has a need to look out for our interests or find themselves out of a job. On the other hand, a CEO of a health insurance company would only find him or herself out of a job (with a severance package worth millions of course) if he or she were not making enough profits for that company’s shareholders. By the way, a great way for the company to make those profits is by denying my claim for an expensive medical procedure. If my health insurance company denies my claims or drops my coverage when I become sick, they stand to make big profits off of me without having to foot any bills. If you think this does not happen, then please ask me about it. I am a real person and I was denied rightful health insurance claims until the government intervened on my behalf. If you do any research you will find that this is not an uncommon story.
    I would really like to understand why some people choose to trust health insurance companies (that make millions for their CEO’s and shareholders by denying claims) more than their government, which they at least have a chance to elect or vote out of office.
    The simple fact remains that health insurance companies have a legal mandate as corporations to consider their shareholder’s profits over my and your interests. In fact, they can increase their profits (which, again, is their legal obligation) by denying our claims to necessary medical procedures or dropping our coverage if we become sick.
    Since you and I have an effective means to influence government, guaranteed by the Constitution, but have virtually no power in relation to large health insurance companies, I would much rather throw my support behind a system in which I have some measure of control. If you think you can exercise control in our current system by choosing another insurance company, you’re wrong. They’re all overpriced. And try choosing another insurance company if you’re sick. None of them will have you.

    Please know Terry that I am not directing the majority of these comments at you personally but at everyone generally. Thanks again for your great post.

    • Trav – thanks for the comments. You make some excellent points that I hope anyone who visits my site will aprecpate as much as I do. I know that this is not on the table, but I really believe that we need a single payor system. That payor would be the government. Comments ??

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