Sunday, February 24, 2008

Universal HealtCare - I approved this message part 4.5

I've numbered this message part 4.5 because it comes somewhere between part 4 (the economy) and part 5 (education, abortion, global warming and carbon credits). My regular readers will remember that I'm outlining the policies I would follow if I were elected president. I should point out that not all presidential candidates do this. To my knowledge, only one of the current candidates has done this. Barack Obama has a book that describes his ideas. He also has extensive information on his website. He's accused of giving on lofty ideas in his campaign speeches. It's hard to tell from the sound bites if that's true, but I don't fault him for that. I think he's giving the public what they want, and doing a very good job of it.

Sen. Clinton has also written a book, and I presume it says something about what she would do as president. I don't think McCain has a book and I haven't checked either website.

But back to my platform, and this time it's on healthcare. Originally, I had grouped this in item #5 because I simply didn't think it needed much attention. However, more thought has led me to flip-flops, or at least partially. Let me explain some basic facts.

I know of 2 or 3 situations where someone has gone to the hospital without medical coverage. In one case, bills totaled over $200,00, probably closer to $500,00 when all was complete. In another situation, the person could have gone to a doctor or a doc-in-a-box, but instead went to the ER. They left without paying and count on the state tax refund to pay the bill (the hospital can garnish the state refund). Currently, a hospital must treat someone who can't afford it, and the state pays it. If they can get the money back later, they will try, otherwise the taxpayer foots the bill.

For those of marginal income, but who try to pay their bills, medical care can wipe out their chances for advancement. Costs are out of hand. I had back surgery two years ago, it cost over $20,000 for one night in the hospital. I didn't even see the doctor after the surgery before discharge.

Normally, I'd say this isn't a federal problem, but the states can't handle it and private industry has no incentive. The system has come to the point where we can do more medical care than we can afford. As the baby boom generation ages, this will only get worse.

To begin with, I firmly believe additional competition is required. Ratings for insurance, hospitals and doctors should be established so that the patient can determine the best choices. Rather than create a new agency, the AMA should govern the doctors and hospitals. There is no comparable agency or group for insurance, one will (reluctantly) have to be created.

Insurance should be just that, insurance. Elective surgery or anticpated hospital requirements should not be covered. (Take a deep breath here). That means normal pregnancies should not be covered. Instead families should pay for their own delivery. This will have to be phased in over time as the current cost is way to high. I would appoint a team of doctors and insurance-minded people to determine how to implement this (that means I have no idea).

Something has to be done to reign in the cost of medicines. I am a big believer in profits and I understand the amount of research that goes into creating a new medicine, but the number of medical sales people and the perks they give out goes way too far.

Obviously, I'm short on details. But let me explain some problems I see with other plans. Many focus on the "big business" as the evil, I instead embrace big business. Many would give everyone equal access, I would focus on individual responsibility. If I as a consumer want to purchase additional insurance, or purchas something that will give me better access to health care, I think that should be allowed. The idea that everyone gets the same access is socialist.

We conseervatives have long been seen as being uncaring. I don't want to be that way. I don't know of any real solution to this problem and I've put it low on my priority lst, but I intentionally didn't put it last.

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