How Universal Health Care Impacts Medical

The health plan that President Obama is proposing is going to be efficient and effective. In order to be efficient it would have to be streamlined and working well, for example, there couldn’t be loads of bad debt sitting on the books. In order to be efficient, the bad debt would have to be collected and always try to be up to date or very minimal. Currently 5% of hospitals gross revenues are written off to bad debt and charity and this is before the implementation of the health care plan.

Some collectors have told me that they are worried that third party collectors or collection departments receiving payments through the proposed plan may take longer than an outside insurance agency or a personal payment could take to get paid. As debt collectors we are used to slow payers but always working on new ways that payments can be obtained more quickly rather than slower. With this new program, many collectors are worried that payments will be slower which we will be forced to accept since it is a government program. On November 25, 2008, InsideARM said that “Debt collectors who currently specialize in medical receivables shouldn’t expect fewer accounts, but the balances forwarded to them by clients may be smaller.” According to Kaulkin Ginsbergs Health Care Analyst Michael Klozotsky, “Just because you insure more people, it’s not going to drop people’s co-pays and deductibles”.

According to Paul B. Ginsburg, Ph.D, “For payment reform to reach its potential, Medicaid programs and private payers of medical care such as insurance companies should participate in developing new Medicare payment methods and follow them to the extent possible. Many health care providers have substantial market power and the ability to offset Medicare payment reductions with increases for private payers, so creating payment structures that are uniform across payers can increase the potential of payment reform to change provider behavior. If a public health insurance plan is a part of health reform, then an all-payer rate-setting structure could help establish a level playing field for all health insurance plans.”

The White House.gov website says, “The President has vowed that the health reform process will be different in his Administration – an open, inclusive, and transparent process where all ideas are encouraged and all parties work together to find a solution to the health care crisis. Working together with members of Congress, doctors and hospitals, businesses and unions, and other key health care stakeholders, the President is committed to making sure we finally enact comprehensive health care reform.”

The Administration believes that comprehensive health reform should:

o Reduce long-term growth of health care costs for businesses and government
o Protect families from bankruptcy or debt because of health care costs
o Guarantee choice of doctors and health plans
o Invest in prevention and wellness
o Improve patient safety and quality of care
o Assure affordable, quality health coverage for all Americans
o Maintain coverage when you change or lose your job
o End barriers to coverage for people with pre-existing medical conditions

What does it mean for your business if this health care plan protects families or consumers from bankruptcy or debt due to the costs of maintaining their health. How will consumers avoid the debt of health care costs to stay healthy when they cannot afford it? I am all for helping consumers stay out of debt, but have concerns about how this new bill protects consumers from the debt of medical bills and how will this affect third party collectors.

Small businesses are an important source of job growth in the United States. Firms with fewer than 20 employees accounted for approximately 18 percent of private sector jobs in 2006, but nearly 25 percent of net employment growth from 1992 to 2005. Many collection agencies are small businesses, and have many questions on how this plan will affect how they collect debt, how much debt they are able to collect and how much time they will have to wait to get paid if they get paid at all. Recently, during my consulting calls I was working with someone who is considering starting a medical collection agency and is worried there won’t be a demand for his services or any debt out there to collect based on this healthcare plan. In my opinion medical collectors should not worry about repercussions of the Universal Healthcare plan, there will still be plenty of work.

You can take steps now to prepare for this new plan, consider how you accept other government payments or deal with their offices and this may be similar. Set up policies and procedures now to use when the plan goes into affect. Once you start working with your policies when the plan is in place, you can tweak it to fit your billing and accounting practices. Just talking about it with your employees will help everyone to feel more comfortable with the plan once it is in place, everyone will have heard about it and will have an idea on how to handle those accounts immediately. The more efficient and effective you can be, the quicker you may get paid. Agencies can also assist with the insurance collections and will find an increase in that line of business, the providers will find it hard to educated, train and hire staff to deal with the additional follow up and if they move or shift workers from dealing with self pay accounts this would not compensate for the increased workload of collecting from the insurer. As one reader stated, “Anything the Government gets involved in becomes more complicated and complex, clients will need their collection agencies to help them deal with this even more.”

Free enterprise will always prevail. The insurance companies that are out there now, aren’t going to go away once we have this new healthcare option. The biggest impact I have found that debt collectors foresee with this new plan is how slow they may be paid or how slowly their clients may be paid. Start working with your medical clients and help them work with their patients so that they can serve as an advocate and show empathy for each individual situation and help them to work on a realistic payment plan – your job as the collector – enforce that payment plan. The longer you wait, the worse off you are – catch accounts that need help early and you will be ahead of the game.

Health Care is a Rip Off

What we call health care is a bad deal for the consumer. The name alone is a lie. It should be called “sickness care” or even “sickness facilitation ” because, for those who are covered, it tricks them into placing the responsibility for their health on their doctor. This is a big mistake.

We are each individually in charge of our own health. How can the doctor be at our side all day and night to counsel us to “Put that cigarette out!” or “Don’t eat that cheeseburger! Remember your high cholesterol!” By the time we are forced to go in to the clinic by some scary symptom, we are already in trouble. It is too late for health care — now it’s time for drugs and scalpels.

Depending on a doctor for information on preserving your health is like closing your barn door after your horse has escaped. It’s too late for doing the easy, inexpensive course of action. Now, you’re in for it!

So, forget about health care. Health care is not about health. It is all about getting you back on the factory floor or back in your cubicle, ready to work, so you can keep paying your premiums. It is about extracting as much money as the law allows by sending you in for tests, which you may or may not need. It is about selling you prescription drugs that you are instructed to take for the rest of your life — drugs that counter the effects of your bad food choices, for example.

Doctor: “The lab tells me you haven’t brought your cholesterol down with a change of diet and exercise since the last time I saw you, John. What I can do — to get you down into a safe range for your LDL — is give you a prescription for Lipitor.”

Patient: “Sorry, Doc. I just can’t give up my favorite foods — eating’s the only pleasure I have left after the wife left me. And taking walks around the block just isn’t my style.”

Doctor: “That’s fine, John. We’ll try Lipitor, then, and see how that works for you. Schedule a follow-up appointment with my staff before you leave. Call me if you have any problems.”

Health care is a rip-off because:

It doesn’t address the real problems that cause most of our illnesses (Namely: our diet, smoking, excessive drinking, and lack of exercise)

By the time we begin to have symptoms of some disease, it is usually too late for inexpensive intervention

Most of what ails us, we bring on ourselves — to correct the after-effects of this is an enormous task…So health care is really not about caring for our health, it’s about facilitating our bad behavior and then extracting as much money as possible from whatever source — the patient, the employer, or the taxpayers in general

Out-of-control malpractice claims, together with the need for doctors to keep their high-tech diagnostic equipment in use, have encouraged doctors to order many unnecessary and expensive tests

When the federal government got involved is when costs skyrocketed (with the advent of Medicare in 1965)

Setting the whole complicated mess under the thumb of the insurance industry added another layer of bureaucratic expense and the need for ever-increasing profitability because these are publicly owned corporations that are expected by the stockholders to show improved profits every quarter

This distorts the quality of care and gives incentive to finding new services to sell. It’s all about the bottom line, not about the health of the patient anymore.

Our health insurance system, by itself, adds 20% to the cost of the medical services provided. Other countries have better health results for 1.5-6% administration costs! We’re being over-charged, plain and simple.

The pharmaceutical industry charges markups of 2000-30,000% of the ingredients in the drugs they sell. Fifty percent of their costs are not for research and development(much of which is subsidized by the taxpayers), but for their marketing expenses — everything from fancy dinners for doctors who sell lots of their medicines, to the many two and three page ads in magazines urging patients to “Ask your doctor if Dynofab is right for you,” to all-expenses-paid trips to Hawaii to educate doctors on that company’s latest prescription drugs.

In the end, we all must pay for the rich system of perks and comforts of those who have been entrusted with our health. Or, we must find out for ourselves how to maintain our own health.

With the present system, the public is not clearly shown how to prevent disease, nor how to maintain optimum health for a long successful life. We are encouraged to turn this sacred task over to others, many of whom know little about how to maintain health and a great deal about ways to make a lot of money by shunting patients through a labyrinth of tests, drugs, and procedures at a substantial profit for the providers, even if the patient doesn’t survive it all.

To be fair to doctors, very few of them know much about how to preserve health through intelligent nutrition. They only live to an average age of 57, while their patients live an average of 75 years, more or less. So, doctors are not experts on health — it is more accurate to call them sales agents for drugs, diagnostic tests, and surgery.

Asking Congress to negotiate us a better deal is foolish. The wise consumer will find and implement a comprehensive program to protect their own health, so they will not find themselves begging for medical care at the end of their life. Without knowledge, the consumer has no power in the negotiation for a fair deal.

All the unsophisticated, unhealthy consumer can expect is a rip-off when they are forced to beg Congress for affordable health care. Who would like to break the news to them?

Focusing on Medical Health Care

Almost half of the nearly 5 trillion dollars in medical and health care related activities can be accounted for in the US. It is obvious that our country has well trained professionals, outstanding technology and a vast array of medication designed to address health concerns. Yet, why is medical care so costly and problematic for so many individuals to receive?

The Growth of Medical Care

For most of the worlds more developed countries the medical field is one of their largest industries. If you count the money generated by medication sales, diagnostics, nursing homes, hospitals, physicians, and other ancillary activities it is quite easy to see why the medical industry accounts for 10-20% of a country’s gross production.

In the US alone there are nearly 800,000 medical doctors, more than 5000 hospitals and millions of health care workers. One of every dozen US citizens works in health care now and this number is expected to grow. Still there are not enough workers and facilities to handle the 20 million outpatients that are currently being seen every day. This staggering amount of outpatient visits does not include the average daily count of 4 -5 million hospitalized patients.

The vast, complex health care industry in the United States is one that attracts people from around the globe. Switzerland and Germany both have large medical industries, but these countries run their health care differently from the US. Could it be possible that our nation’s health care will soon be undergoing a radical type of change?

Answers are Difficult to Find

Is the answer to the current health care dilemma as simple as nationalizing health care for all? Will this possibility only make the situation worse? How will the medical resources be allocated among the various segments of our society? These are only a few of the questions that are waiting to be answered.

Controversial Topic

Today medical health has become a controversial subject among many groups of citizens. There is talk of overhauling the medical system as we now know it. We are also hearing predictions that the government will try to restructure the nation’s health care system. Although much of this rhetoric has been publicized for a number of years it seems that people are becoming more polarized by the possible changes that are now constantly making headlines.

The Senior Citizens Have their own Concerns

The elderly population in the US is keeping a close eye on what is being proposed because health care and medication issues are of great concern to them. Medical and insurance coverage for people 65 and older have undergone many changes since the 1980s. Most senior citizens are very vocal about their displeasure with the way Medicare is addressing the problems, and they are also worried about what the future might hold. The costs of health care and medication needs are extremely high for senior citizens as a whole. Every year they are fearful of having their benefits cut even further, and now they have new worries regarding medical care.

Groups at Risk

It has been just a few short weeks since Governor Sara Palin galvanized many citizens with her predictions and comments about “death panels” and nationalized health care. While there were many people who rallied around her statements, the mere possibility of such radical notions began sending shock waves through the nation. This was particularly unnerving to a large percentage of our elderly population. It was also causing concern among advocates for the poor and disabled. Even parents and caretakers of people with physical and mental challenges were becoming alarmed, and feeling threatened.

Future Allocation of Health Care Resources?

Could it be possible that Medical professionals would possibly agree to form commissions that would allocate health care resources to those they deemed most deserving? This thought was both frightening and “Orwellian” in prospect. A careful review showed that there was no written documentation that actually stated such possibilities, but this did not alleviate the fear and worry of many ordinary citizens. Just the idea that access to hospitalization or medication needs might one day be restricted was enough to generate small scale panic in many communities across the nation.

Problems, Problems, Problems

Medical concerns, health care and affordable medication plans are major sources of worry for everyone today. Insurance coverage is very expensive. There is a growing trend among companies to provide less employee and family benefits in order to cut costs. In some cases this is making it difficult for employees to participate in the insurance plans being offered by their employers. However a growing number of families are too cash strapped to afford health insurance premiums on their own. This is creating a “Catch 22” type of environment with people unable to afford the cost of becoming sick as well as the cost of being insured.

The Answer is Cooperation

It is hard to know where the main problems are within the health industry. Some people want to find fault with the high paid physicians and medical specialists and others point the finger of blame at hospitals that seem to be pulling in billions of dollars annually, yet are constantly complaining having too little money. Malpractice lawyers, government regulations and insurance companies have also played a part in today’s health care woes. The answer is not going to be easy to find, and every group associated with the medical industry will need to step up to the plate and help out.

Health Care A Populist Solution

It should be obvious by now that the U.S. health care system is not going to be happily corrected from the top down. If we truly had a free-market competitive system with many insurance companies vying for the public’s business, that should bring prices of their service down, right?

How can our President be an honest broker in a negotiation with the fabulously wealthy health insurance corporations, the pharmaceutical industry, and others who were major contributors to his election? It simply is not going to happen. These folks have spent a lot of money and time to get their corporations into a position where they have got the most profitable game in town, and — as we have seen with the heavy Wall Street influence on this administration — they are not going to be forced to give it all up, just to make the American people happy.

An article recently appeared in the newspaper by T.R. Reid, which gives a rundown of the administrative costs of various health insurance plans around the world, with ours included. The U.S. topped them all at 20% being spent on paperwork, reviewing claims, and marketing. The European countries and Canada ran about 4-6% administrative costs. Taiwan came in the lowest at 1.5%! It shouldn’t require private detective sleuthing around the corridors of power in Washington to help us figure out that Americans are under the thumb of an uncompetitive and — I may as well say it — corrupt system.

We have a system where the people with the most to gain, “gain access” to our political leaders with the help of well-connected lobbyists to get their views heard. Then, when election time rolls around, mega-contributions flow into the appropriate party’s account in return for favorable legislation that allows the corporations to maintain their strangle-hold on our shrinking American economy. It’s all a highly-ritualized dance here, but in any Third-World country the same general process is called corruption and influence-buying. The results are the same, whatever we call it.

So how do we, as a nation, break free of the hold the Health Care Industry has on our economy? It is really very simple. We must use one of the few freedoms we have left: Boycott these industries that have been overcharging us for years. And give up the naive notion that your elected representatives will negotiate a fairer deal(for you and me) with the industries that paid to put them into office.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “If I give up my current health insurance and something happens to me or one of my family, we’d be sunk!” You have a point, there.

It’s a shame to live in fear of something, out of your control happening to you, isn’t it? But what about the elements of your health that you CAN control? So much of our long term disability develops from simple everyday choices we make that lead to our weight gain, or whether we smoke, whether we drink too much. These are all controllable if we choose. I choose — do you?

Are you doing everything you can to reduce your need for health care? There are many peer-reviewed medical studies showing the health benefits of a primarily vegetarian diet, combined with daily cardiovascular exercise, being very effective at reducing bad cholesterol, lowering high blood pressure, maintaining a healthy weight, etc. Are you availing yourself and your family of these proven do-it-yourself healthcare measures?

Both Health Reimbursement and Health Savings Accounts Offer More Treatment Options and Lower Costs

If you can afford to enroll in a Health Savings Account and live with a $5000 deductible health insurance policy, this has many advantages, not the least of which is slashing the tribute you pay for unused medical care you will get through a standard health care policy. If you are in a high-risk profession where major injury is possible, then this may not work for you. For most people, however, it will.

How about we boycott the pharmaceutical drug industry to the extent we can?

Take a hard look at the prescription drugs you and your family take. How many are really necessary? In many cases, Big Pharma has just cooked up drugs that are letting you slide by without changing your unhealthy habits of eating, drinking, smoking, and not enough physical activity. They have dreamed up new “medical conditions” like GERD (gastric reflux) which in many cases is just caused by what used to be called indigestion — you ate a bunch of greasy, fatty food just before bed and, as your stomach churned and labored to digest this overly-rich mess, the stomach acid backed up your esophagus. Are you willing to stop eating like that, to save yourself money and be part of a movement to get the attention of the pharmaceutical industry?

Are you willing to quit eating pepperoni pizza for a midnight snack? What ARE you willing to do to get your freedom back from the sickness-care and prepared food industries who are getting rich off a tag team attack on your health?

In these hard times — and no, the downturn is far from over — wouldn’t it be smart to stop paying so much for fattening foods and the medical problems they cause?

Go down the list of pharmaceuticals you take, read some books on the subject of legitimate alternative diet and health practices that would make these drugs unnecessary. Then, take personal action yourself to correct the problem. I must warn you, under threat of prosecution, that if your doctor has you on statin drugs or some other major medication, that you must get the help of another doctor to help wean you off them. Dr. Dean Ornish and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn have some good books out that can give you solid proof that what I am saying is true and do-able.

Dr. Esselstyn has a list of health care professionals on his Web site who can help transition you off many pharmaceutical meds. Another good source for this information is Dr. John McDougall — offered for free on his Web site.

It can be done, the only question is whether the American consumer of so-called health care products and services will have the courage and gumption to do anything about it. The average American has a clear choice here: to continue their comfortable habits, even though they are growing slowly fatter and sicker, or to make a stand for freedom, when all the odds are stacked against them? It won’t be easy, but nothing feels as good as freedom and trouncing a bunch of rich fat-cats who have been ripping you off for years!

Our politicians don’t care as much about our little votes as they desperately seek the huge campaign contributions of the Pharmaceutical and Health Insurance Industries. We have no power unless we learn — and we can learn — to live without most of these rip-off-priced health care services.

It will take a consumer revolt — a Boycott — over a period of time, to get the attention of the industries that own the political power in the USA.

All Big Pharma understands is the bottom line. If their sales in this country go down, they will be forced to listen and do something. (Have you read the list of side-effects? You are better off not consuming these pills anyway — there are legitimate doctors who can provide you with healthy alternatives.)

What we need to do is make it clear that Big Health Insurance is next on our boycott list

To a great extent, what I am proposing is already taking place. Many people, like me (and perhaps you, too?) are offended by the high costs and narrow options for treatment our present medical/insurance system offers, so we’re not participating. The Obama administration has made some noises about making it compulsory that everyone — Everyone?! — pay into a health insurance system, except Senators and Congressmen and -women and, of course the President. We’ll see how that goes over.

Most of the diseases that kill us and those that disable us are preventable. Our diet is the biggest source of our fatal diseases. We have been brainwashed since childhood to overlook this obvious culprit that causes us so much pain and frustration. It is up to us to start seeing the elephant in the room and retake our freedom and a large part of our personal budget back from the people who are profiting off our food-caused sickness.

The only question is, ” How much abuse will Americans take at the hands of the overpriced Health Care Industry before we stop being played for suckers?”

Stop begging the politicians for help and get healthy. It’s free! Show the Symptom-Relief industry you don’t need them any more!

Then prices will come down as we negotiate from a position of power. Cut out the middlemen — the insurance industry — and pay cash for services you want. That’s how the consumer gets a bargain in any negotiation, not by asking the federal government to add a new layer of bureaucratic expense.

Health Care Reform Or Not

Health policy in the U.S. heavily relies on the strategy of denial. Health care costs eat up over 16% of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The typical American works two months out of every year just to cover medical treatment! Or, to put it another way, in 2007 the U.S. spent an average $7,421 per resident for health care. That same year, total medical costs were rising at 6.1% annually – far higher than the rate of GDP growth. What could you do with an extra $7,421 each year for every member of your family?

If you are healthy, you may think this cost does not apply to you. While the cost is an average, think about all the places that health care costs are hiding.

Federal income taxes – to pay for Medicaid, Medicare, and other programs

State taxes – to pay for the state’s share of Medicaid and other programs

Your health premiums – the amount you pay each month to your employer or an insurance company to cover just being insured (if you have insurance)

Your out-of-pocket costs – your part of the bill when you go to the doctor or emergency room, are admitted to the hospital, buy a prescription, or use any other health care service. If you have insurance, notice that every year you likely pay more to get less in coverage.

Part of every purchase – no matter what you buy, from an electronic gadget to clothes, school supplies, a car or bike, or food, health care costs are hidden in the purchase price. Why? For one thing, the seller has to pay taxes too, and part of its taxes goes for health care programs. Second, the seller is likely providing health care insurance to its employees, with a hefty tab skyrocketing year after year. The seller needs to cover those costs somehow, and you’ve been nominated.

Seventy five percent of the costs ($5,566 for you and each family member) go to treat people with chronic illness. In other words, those suffering from high blood pressure, arthritis, diabetes, asthma, Alzheimer’s, cancer, autoimmune disease, skin and eye diseases, sinusitis, irritable bowel syndrome, depression, and more. The painful list goes on and on. Money is only a minor part of the human cost.

Whether or not there is health care reform will make only a tiny difference in the long run. The soaring costs are not sustainable because other parts of the economy simply can’t keep up. If costs keep mounting as they are, engulfing a bigger part of our national resources each year, it won’t matter who pays or how. Because no one will have that much money and the system will slide downhill.

The only way to permanently construct a sane health care plan is to have people make meaningful changes in their lifestyle. This means reducing the risk of getting a chronic illness.

Eating a plant-based diet of whole foods is the single most critical action you can take to lower costs and stay well enough to survive the imploding system. This choice is for you to make, not Congress. Breathe easy that you can stay largely outside the polarizing health care debate and hospitals both if you make the best lifestyle choices. And that is not as hard as you might think.

If you are already ill and need treatment, this may be of little comfort. If we drastically reduced, as a nation, the total cost of health care through better diet and other great decisions (such as quitting smoking), there will be plenty to go around to take care of each and every sick person. We won’t need to skimp on anyone.

Don’t discount the healing power of a whole foods diet. You may feel a lot better even before we get to that long-awaited day when everyone gets the highest quality care.

Will the health care system be public, private, or a little bit of both once we get costs under control? We would have the luxury of debating options at that point because we could afford to! So let’s get out of denial and start building a healthier nation now. It starts with you.