There is no doubt about it. Our health care in the USA was once the best in the world. But now we’re way back in 30-something place, behind almost every other modern industrialized nation. Yet, we as a nation pay about double, per capita, what it costs for health care in those other countries. And those nations provide health care for everyone, with better health care outcomes, across the board.
For most everyone, there is no security in clutching whichever of the thousands of different insurance policies your employer has chosen for you (if any). Your employer, after all, may decide to get rid of that policy – or maybe get rid of your job. You, or someone in your family, may have a “pre-existing condition” or fall through the loopholes, or just not qualify. Maybe your fate has an unwelcome surprise in store. Medical “surprises” are implicated in half the personal bankruptcies that occur in the USA.
Something is very wrong. Sick, even. But the cure is simple, common, and well known.
It’s called “single-payer comprehensive universal health care”. “Single-payer” takes the insurance industry corporate gate-keepers out of their self-appointed role of determining your “preferred provider” (or maybe your only provider). It eliminates the anonymous insurance executives, cubicle dwellers, and medical reviewers that decide, for you and “your” doctor, what your treatment options are …and are not. In a word, neighbor, “single payer universal” provides YOU with the CHOICE of doctor or clinic, and provides your privately-employed doctor with the freedom to do what is medically best for you. (What a radical notion, eh?)
Not only that, single-payer universal doesn’t leave one out of every six Americans uninsured, and many others woefully under-insured, or vulnerable to losing their coverage. Everybody is covered, and everybody can go to a private doctor or clinic they chose when they need a clinic, or to an emergency room for emergency care.
And listen up, people. We don’t have to “find the money to pay for it”. Single-payer universal health care actually costs LESS than does the current hodge-podge, employer funded, managed for corporate profit, loophole ridden, administratively inefficient, so-called system. The doctors and nurses in the USA are at least as proficient and dedicated as any. Changes are not necessary there. But we need to stop those layers of insurance and managed care bureaucracies from meddling in health care. Eliminate the myriad of complicated, tricky forms, those nit-picking itemized billings, and requirements for “pre-authorization” for medical care. And get the greed and gobbling of profits and acquisitions and gross executive compensation packages out of the health care picture.
If we do just that, our existing health care system can provide comprehensive care for everybody for substantially less than the total we’re currently paying. Or, if, after reforming to single-payer universal, we continue to spend the same amount per capita that we are currently spending, we will have, by far, the best health care system this world has ever seen, hands down.
There is an Improved Medicare for All bill, H.R. 676, now in the U.S. Congress that would accomplish such a reform. If you’d rather test the water with your toe first, the Healthy Wisconsin reform passed by the state Senate would make a significant move in the right direction. It would raise taxes, but, bottom line, it would cost Wisconsin taxpayers and businesses over a billion dollars less than we are currently paying for health care, per year. And U.S. Senators Russ Feingold and Lindsay Graham have jointly introduced a bi-partisan bill called the State Based Health Care Reform Act that would work perfectly, hand-in-glove, with the reform proposed by the Wisconsin State Senate. Wisconsin would be foolish beyond words to pass up this opportunity.
And if any legislators, or Governor Doyle or President Bush, try to block an up-or-down vote on H.R. 676, or Healthy Wisconsin and State Based Health Care Reform, or fail to give them full support, we must Throw the Rascals Out of office.
If you are a business owner experiencing problems providing and paying for good health insurance for yourself or your employees, click on this link to the Business Coalition web site for straight talk and a solution.
If you haven’t yet actually seen it yourself, get Sicko which won first place in Cannes. It has a car chase in Paris. And it’s opening hearts and minds. See it with your family.
“It never ceases to amaze me, the amount of energy that can go into a project just to avoid doing the right thing. The best, simplest, least costly, most effective thing we could do is expand what has been working so well for years. Medicare. You get sick, you get care, the caregiver gets paid. Nothing could be simpler. But follow the money and you’ll find why the politicians don’t like it.” Jack Lohman, retired business owner, author, and a founder of the Business Coalition.
Next column, we’ll follow that money, and we’ll see what people think about our health care crisis.