The Houston Chronicle on Health Care Reform

There are times my hometown newspaper makes me proud…This is one of them. In an editorial yesterday they laid out the argument for health care reform and touched many of the  reasons that what is being argued in Congress is just BS. These three paragraphs tell the story… but you really should follow the link and read the entire piece…

The notion of competition in the health-care insurance industry is mostly myth, Himmelstein contends. For most consumers, the choices are limited by what their employers offer and at what cost they choose to offer it. For some lucky ones the choices may be made broader by the option of insuring through a spouse.

What is also mostly myth is that the current system is somehow inherently more virtuous than alternatives, including the public option now being discussed by federal policymakers and the Obama administration. As Steffy notes, “Health insurers long ago stopped being concerned with quality of care. They answer to their shareholders.”

In our view, that is little short of reprehensible. It is reason enough for broad-based reform, including institution of the public option evidently so dreaded by many in the private health-insurance industry. In our system, there is room — and good reason — for profit that drives innovation and investment; but it should not come at the expense of doing what is right by the sick and infirm. The impression held by growing numbers of Americans is that some health insurers are little more than buccaneers whose loyalty is only to the bottom line. Count us among them.

As one watching my profession life fall apart with corporate cost cutting, I have had my health care options limited to what my spouses employer offers. Her employer is going through a number of changes itself, so what our options will be are unknown. The ability to purchase a policy on our own that we could afford would be appreciated…The offer to cut our fiscal throats in order to purchase a high cost policy that would in all likelihood deny our claims and drive us into bankruptcy is not a option that appeals to me…

As I opined a week or so ago, when health care became a for-profit operation and out-sourced all of the normal in-house tests and procedures, it shot us all in the fiscal foot. How many individual “firms” are now involved in a hospital stay? X-rays…Outsourced. Lab work…Outsourced. Anesthesia…Outsourced. In some hospitals they even outsource the billing and janitorial services. Everyone of theses outsourced services requires offices, personnel, insurance…So what we have is a never ending inflation of costs…And as the editorial notes, Doctors are investing in the very services they are referring patients to.

From my personal experience, the use of referrals to specialists and testing, all of whom hit you for a copay, is where many doctor’s offices make their money. Or as the editorial puts it…

When health care reform failed in the early years of the first Clinton presidential term, a lot of blame was placed on first lady Hillary Clinton for being too secretive. Those criticisms were fair, and they bought the private health-care sector more than 15 years to prove that its methods were indeed superior to what Washington could offer. In our view, the private health-care folks blew it. Many chose, instead, to line their own pockets. Costs have soared and that tangle of loopholes and exceptions has grown like kudzu.

This miserable performance has forfeited opponents of reform the option of keeping the status quo. Over the coming weeks, congressional committees will have the opportunity to inform Americans about ways to improve this sick-and-getting-sicker situation. We encourage our representatives to use their time to get it right.

via Unhealthy numbers: Bankruptcies, uncontrolled costs argue convincingly for health-care reform | Editorial | Chron.com – Houston Chronicle.

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