Monday, June 04, 2007

Who's Afraid of Corporate Medicine?

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In the most recent Democratic Presidential Debate in New Hampshire, it was said and hardly heard when Candidate Dennis Kucinich screamed the most common sense yet most financially opposed medical plan, the single payer plan. Basically, an extension of Medicare to all Americans, it is a plan that would cut out the middle man, which is opposed by the sacred cows as Big Pharma, the AMA and insurance companies have effectively touted it as a death knell for quality medicine in America.

What they don't point out is that the death knell went in years ago as we are by far the worst quality medical providing nation of all industrialized nations. Yes, the best is available, but only to the rich but the real measure is the availability to all. On this the US loses in every category to countries like Costa Rica (population 3-million; avg. per capita income - $300/month) and Castro's Cuba (recently highlighted in Michael Moore's Sicko). The numbers are clear when by every measure America appears to be a third world nation.

We are 48th in life expectancy and the United States is tied with Hungary, Malta, Poland and Slovakia with a death rate of nearly 5 per 1,000 babies. A little embarrassing to those of us who still care about little things like children and living. Supposedly our constitution guarantees the "inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" ; however, it seems rather difficult to exercise these rights when you are dead.

Of course, many Americans have swallowed hook, line and sinker, the notion that insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies and medical professional have a natural right to living like kings on the highest medical profits in the world. It's not hard to believe America falls for it after the billions that are tacked onto our medical care in the form of lobbying and advertising by the monster that our medical establishment has become.

Some facts to consider:

  • Medicare spends a lower percentage on administration of medical care than any single provider in the world at close to 1%.
  • A record 46.6 million Americans, including 8.3 million children, have no health insurance at all.
  • If allowed to actually negotiate with drug providers they could cut drug costs by 48% just as the Veteran's administration does; a fact few realize as our congress pushed this through literally in the middle of the night as Big Pharma twisted arms and threatened political lives during a prolonged vote. That's right; the median price difference for the 20 drugs most frequently used by seniors is 48.2 percent.

Some relevant questions:

  • If the US offered a free education to those who can perform, would there be any shortage of medical professionals?
  • If the US, a country of 300-million people cut out the middle man could we not cut out the middle man and save that 30+% of profit that is tacked onto our medical costs and put that money back in our pockets?
  • If we had a single payer i.e simply offering Medicare to all US citizens, couldn't we be at least as efficient as Cuba or Costa Rica?
  • If we treated people before they got sick wouldn't we live longer - as "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure"?
  • Would we really miss any of the doctors, Pharma and insurance executives who might quit if we deprived them of guaranteed 6 figure incomes and replaced them with people driven by a love of helping people?
  • Would either doctors or patients miss the current bureaucracy of processing medical insurance claims and the fear that some executive will say, "no" to your life?
  • Would it somehow make us less American to get something back for the tax dollars we put in?
To paraphrase our former President, Richard Nixon, "you're not going to have America's healthcare system to kick around forever."

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Since a large number of Senators and Representatives know who pays for their reelection, it is sadly unlikely that a one payer system will happen until the pain, death and disease is unbearable to the average person or family. The privileged will never care. (The ignorance and gullibility of the average citizen is also a major problem.)

Anonymous said...

it sure sounds like a good thing.i hope and pray that some day all americans can have a health plan.why has it been so hard. i would like to hear some views .my son does not have any plan---and can noy afford one

Anonymous said...

Automobile insurance requires drivers to choose a deductible option when they buy comprehensive auto insurance. If their vehicle suffers damage, they don't complain about having to pay a deductible. Why do Americans expect to have something for nothing? Furthermore, we are already paying for a single-payer system -- as you aptly point out in the article, "Duly Consider".

Anonymous said...

I HAVE KNOWN FOR FIFTY YEARS, DRUG STORES ROUTINELY INCREASE SALES COSTS---8 TO 9 TIMES THIER COST..

Anonymous said...

Fascist Corporate Monarchies (like the USA) do not care about the general population. Our society MAINTAINS an underclass for a reason. First correct the tax code then you'll have the funding to pursue healthcare for everyone. Cutting the middlemen out in health insurance is an excellent idea, but you wont get it from a democrat ot republican - too much lobbying money from big pharma and health ins cos. would cost our elected officials more than the benefit they'd receive from a national health plan for all.

Anonymous said...

I loved this point you included - "Would we really miss any of the doctors, Pharma and insurance executives who might quit if we deprived them of guaranteed 6 figure incomes and replaced them with people driven by a love of helping people?" - because it goes to everything we do on earth, not just medicine. The notion of doing good because it's the right thing to do has been obscenely replaced with the idea that unless you can get rich doing it, we probably don't need it. The 'profit motive' has destroyed education, science, farming, everything! How far would we be technologically if someone had claimed "intellectual property rights" on say, the wheel, or the alphabet, what if Dr. Halstead decided to copyright his surgical techniques back in the day? How many doctors would want to pay royalties to cut you open? If the Internet had been invented by Bill Gates it would cost 100x more and have less than 1/1000th of it's current development. The licensing fees and royalties would have muted it's growth. It only grew so fast because the internet as it was invented had none of these restrictions, it was built by people who were not motivated by profit. For some reason, people believe that a shot at wealth will make us work harder and succeed. And they are probably right when it comes to working hard at selling us junk we don't need. We just need to be sure we do not elect anymore of them to lead our nation or local juridstictions.

Darryl said...

I completely agree with you as do, I think, most Americans. There is only one TINY problem....Insurance companies! Since our country is basically a fascist regime, the 'industries' control the government (see Oil, Insurance, Big Pharma, etc.). They are HUGELY profitable (much like oil but not to quite that extent). If a 'single payer' system is even introduced by the next president, (or congress for that matter) you will be staggered by the amount of propaganda against it. Insurance companies will literally spend BILLIONS not to let it pass. How can you beat them? I believe it is not possible at this late date. Our only hope is to change the whole system of lobbying in Washington, then we may see a change. If corporations can influence politicians for their own gain then we are not a government by and for the people, we are a government by and for big business!

Bobg said...

My sister is the former Head of Inhailation Therapy for Scripps Hosp. in San Diego, CA a world class Medical facility. She informed me recently that 51% of all medical cost is for the administration & reporting to Ins Companies. Now, with the elimination of these cost, everone could have Health Care, Quality Health Care.

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