Universal Healthcare

United States of America is the only major “Western ” country whose citizens do not enjoy Universal Healthcare.

Majority of the countries have Government directed Healthcare system(s). Majority have coverage that is deemed minimal by their respective Governments and is designed to cover all their citizens. Minimum coverage does not discriminate on the basis of financial, geographical, racial, ethnicity, sex, age, or religious status (including birth control and abortion rights).

Many of these countries allow for secondary insurance-albeit, private institutions such as insurance companies, to provide for other perceived luxuries such as private rooms, physical therapy, dental coverage etc.

Some of these Countries have a rule of no co-payments. Some of them do not allow for private funds- personal or through insurance to intermingle with the government programs. Some of these countries do not accommodate people to pay to get ahead of the line.

I was trained in Canada. I practiced in Ontario Canada for a while. Some of my family members still live in Canada. All residents of Canada are covered by the respective Provincial governments programs.

In Ontario there is no co-pay and there is no accommodation to allow people to jump the line. Majority of the residents are happy with the system. The affluent who wish to not wait in the line are the ones who come to the United States to go to places like the Mayo Clinic or the Cleveland clinic.

It must be understood that waiting in the line does not mean that those with more urgent or serious illnesses are not treated on urgent or emergent basis should the need the recognized. People are not left on the streets to die of ruptured appendicitis nor left invalid from not receiving knee replacement joints nor dying of heart attacks because of perceived (lies stated by the anti Universal Healthcare militia in the U.S.A.) prolonged waiting in Canada.

In all fairness, I’m sure there are isolated cases where very few of the items that they mention did occur. But if we are to involve those few and far between examples let us consider the following:

Misinformation regarding rationing of care in the Canadian system has been described. This is not entirely incorrect. All systems are constrained by budgets. Resources are limited. However, It should be recognized that while the affluent people can fly into Cleveland and Minnesota on their private jets to receive the care from the finest facilities United States healthcare can offer… the same services are not that readily available to the citizens of United States, particularly, if they happen to be poor… particularly if they’re working poor and have no insurance of any kind (no Medicaid or Medicare). That too is rationing.

Universal healthcare needs to be a right of a citizen – same right as Right to Vote and rights of the “Bill of Right”. For those who believe otherwise, and for whom this this tantamount to Socialism and even Heavens forbid, Communism… let us consider the following:

The first dollar collected in terms of tax for the Universal good, even if it is to build that ballistic missile to protect America from the threat without is Socialism, and in the same way we must protect us ourselves from the threat within (albeit, under the umbrella of Socialism).

To illustrate, during the first part of the last Century death rates began to go down, peoples life expectancy began to increase. This was before the advent of antibiotics. Primarily this was due to running water, sewage systems and building institutions such as sanitariums to treat people with tuberculosis and psychosis.

Corporate America and the affluent people paid taxes to cover for many of these projects. The affluent people recognized that spending for these institutions resulted in improvement of communal health and thereby reduced risk of their own family members, loved ones and presumably their workforce from becoming infected from illnesses such as polio and tuberculosis.

Tax dollars spent for the good of all… an unwritten contract between the affluent people paying taxes and the poor people recognizing an improvement in the living standard, resulted in dissipating the threat uprising – revolutions.

I now submit to you that in the year 2025… say a virus labeled H9N9 presents itself. If there are members in our Society who are unable to pay for the care, then it is not difficult to see that they may go on to infect the affluent population as well as the common working class.

With this illustration I present to you an absolute need to have Universal healthcare that is paid for by taxes. Higher taxes on the affluent should not be a problem to the affluent members of the Society, for they too will certainly stand to benefit directly and indirectly.

Every member of our Society living legally in this country deserves essentially basic and the same kind of healthcare. No child needs to suffer more from asthma nor adult needs to suffer more from ravages of diabetes and so forth simply due to their socioeconomic standard.

Voluntary insurance payments by individuals do not work as a young do not see the value and the older people feel it is too expensive. The expense is viewed as being too expensive by many in the Society. The only way to mandate is to have it through some normal mechanism of tax based formula. A basic tenet of insurance of spreading of the risk is easy to see.

It is my contention that, corporate American employers would love to not have to deal with employee health insurance.

I came across an article that one time at the Honda motor company out of Japan decided to put a plant in Ontario Canada. One of their reasons was they would not have to deal with health insurance. Recognize that the money that Corporate America is already spending and specifically deducting from the pay check of an individual as well as, relatively speaking, very small amount of contribution from increased taxes on the affluent can make Universal healthcare an easy and affordable reality for all.

Additionally, the health insurance industry does not bring anything to the table. One should look at the price of the shares of the four major Health insurance companies over the last 5 years compared to S&P 500. Those profits could easily be included in reducing the total cost of healthcare (also known as reducing premiums).

Combining the processing departments of these healthcare insurance industries under one roof should help reduce costs further. In this context, the most important thing that can be allowed to happen is that the Government could find / develop a software application that every hospital, every healthcare provider, pharmacist, every nurse physical therapist, etc would be mandated in using as a software and the maintenance of the data stored centrally.

The software and the maintenance including security be provided to those users for free. This should help reduce cost directly. But far more importantly, the Government can begin to extract data without violating personal information to begin to answer questions of what works well, does not work, who it is cheaper and was gaming the system, thereby “cut out the fat out of the system.

Empower USPTF of CDC to do this without commercial or legislative influence.

Big Pharma has benefited immensely from Medicare part D legislation. Basically Medicare part D took away the right of the State to be able to negotiate prices of drugs with the manufacturer’s for the benefit off the citizens of the state.

If this was how the legislation was presented to the public the legislation naturally would never have passed. Very cleverly, big Pharma together with a New administration crafted the deal and sugar coated this particular legislation with so-called Medicare D to provide drugs to the senior’s at a “cheaper” cost. An unfunded mandate nonetheless.

I recall reading at the time that lobbying money spent was around $110 million – the payoff was supposed to be $500 billion over the following 10 years. No wonder cost of medication has skyrocketed and when bundled within healthcare costs naturally it gets reflected in the healthcare costs as well.

Non medicare population has subsidized this windfall as well. We should demand that the next Congress split the two aspects up and allow the States to negotiate prices of drugs. Let us allow Capitalism to liberate Americans from clutches of Corporate America.

Please recognize that the provider cost in healthcare spending amounts to approximately 8-9%. Majority of the costs are due to hospitalizations, for surgical care Nursing home and pharmaceutical care.

A few years ago, in TIME magazine with a front cover with the title “The Bitter Pill”, a paragraph stood out to the effect stating that one of the only major organization that was able to bend the curve off the rate of rise of healthcare costs was Medicare (CMS) and that it could do even a better job if it wasn’t for the lawmakers.

The only procedure in our Healthcare system where costs have come down is the LASIK eye surgery program. This because insurance companies are not involved -being a cosmetic procedure – the patient’s do their own research and presumably negotiation of payments – market forces come in relatively unadulterated.

In this context, the system if it is to remain private, it must be forced to post prices of all procedures. The insurance companies should be forced to share in the savings patient may be able to negotiate with the healthcare system and ultimately the insurance company should demand commonly negotiated prices as described above for all procedures and stays in the hospital setting.

There are other ways to reduce healthcare costs.

For now, let us work towards Universal healthcare for all – make it a right of every legal US citizen and resident. Have a single Universal electronic medical record and payment system installed in every healthcare provider’s office and every healthcare institution.

It has been stated that individuals have an obligation to look after themselves to reduce risk of illnesses and disease. It is for this reason that those will argue this point, feel that they do not wish to pay insurance for people who may be obese as an example. Or cigarette smokers.

To that argument I ask what needs to happen to a 26-year-old without an insurance coverage who suffers an injury while mountain biking? I think it is fairly easy to see that again all members of the Society need to be covered for the common good as well as spreading of the risk.

I welcome comments or suggestions. Above all I would like community members to encourage our lawmakers to move towards single payer Universal healthcare coverage preferably without involving Corporate health care insurance industry in the system.