Myths in the Health Care Debate

Myth #5: Most Americans like their private health insurance and want to keep it.

First off, let’s start with the fact that in 2007 46 million Americans in this country have NO health care whatsoever. Not Medicare, not Medicaid, nothing. So that’s 18% of the population who either cannot afford health care or will not qualify because of preexisting conditions. Then there are the people who’ve been in the hospital for costly procedures who had to battle the insurance companies in order to get treatment. A retired nurse from Texas testified before Congress that when she was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer, Blue Cross Blue Shield sent her an email informing her that because of an issue with her with her application(the company had mistaken her dermatologist’s notes on acne as a precancerous condition) her policy was being dropped. This was days before she was supposed to undergo a lifesaving hysterectomy. This practice, known as rescission, is often done by health insurance companies after one of their customers with an individual policy submits a claim for an expensive medical treatment. They dig through a patients records hoping to find anything that will disqualify the patient from receiving often much needed medical care. It saves the insurance company millions in medical claims; approximately 300 million was saved WellPoint Inc., UnitedHealth Group and Assurant Inc over a 5 year period. The insurance companies claim they are shielding themselves from fraud, however, during testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee committee over the practice of rescission, the CEOs from the nations top insurance companies refused to stop using rescission to cancel the policies of patients who did not intentionally deceive insurance companies on their applications. The key word being intentionally. They all responded by saying that the law allowed them terminating policies for even the most minor mistake. A poll conducted by the Harris Poll found that 75% of all Americans (independent, liberal, conservative) are actually for universal health care.

Myth #4: America has the best health care in the world and part of that is because our health care is not run by the government.

Based on the WHO’s World Health Report 2000, the US is ranked 37th in the world for health care . The report is based on five factors: life expectancies, inequalities in health, the responsiveness of the system in providing diagnosis and treatment, inequalities in responsiveness, and how fairly systems are financed. As we all know statistics can made to say almost anything, however, the findings in this report cannot be discounted completely. Maybe we’re not as low as 37 but we’re definitely not #1. France, a country with Universal Health Care, is actually #1. Since it’s inception the United States has been a trend setter of sorts. Other countries copy everything from our pop culture to our policies. If our for profit private health care system is so great, why are we the only industrialized nation on the planet doing it? America has never been perfect but one of our strengths has always been our ability to right social ills from slavery to women’s suffrage. We’re constantly evolving.

Myth#3: Our current system is fine, why change it?

We should question those who say this because they are from three camps: they are severely misinformed, they’re in the pockets of the health insurance industry, or they don’t want President Obama to accomplish anything significant. Currently Americans spend more money on health care than any other nation PERIOD . Switzerland, a country that requires ALL of it’s citizens to have health care, comes in 2nd and we spend 53% more than them. Ask the politicians who are for the status quo but appalled by the current deficit how these contradictory viewpoints. The only people who you will see saying that our current system is fine are those are blessed enough to have and it have never had any fear of losing it. Consider that America is touted as one of the greatest countries in the world and yet 18,000 of our citizens die unnecessarily each year because they have no health care. How can we say that our health care system is not broken?

Insurance companies lining the pockets of those who have the most influence in this debate may sound like conspiracy theory, but consider this: insurance companies spent approximately 100 million lobbying and producing commercials such as the infamous Congress in 1993 fighting the Clinton Health Care Plan; this time around they are spending millions more to fight it. What are they so afraid of? If the insured are so content with their current coverage, why are they so against a public option?

The people who represent us in Congress, both Democrat and Republican, have always tried to make everything political. If President Obama were to be successful where Clinton failed in 1993, it would represent a major accomplishment and some conservatives can’t have that. Republican Jim DeMint, Republican from South Carolina, famously said “If we’re able to stop Obama on this (health care), it will be his Waterloo. It will break him.” Why should an issue as important to million of Americans be looked at as an opportunity to “break” the President? As someone who represents the people of South Carolina shouldn’t his primary concern be what is best for them, not strategically outmaneuvering the new Democratic President? Bill Kristol, who played a pivotal role in defeating the Clinton push to reform health care, urged conservatives to “kill” Obama’s plan for health care reform; however, later he was on the Daily Show even though the public health care the troops receive is “the best” average Americans do not deserve this level of care. These objections to health care reform do not seem rooted in principal and reason but in a game of tic and tac played by both parties.

Myth#2: Tort Reform would significantly the cost of health care.

Often times this is the argument made as an alternative to drastically changing our current system. Doctors who fear being sued for malpractice begin practicing defensive medicine, which leads them to order expensive and sometimes unnecessary tests in order to avoid expensive malpractice suits. This inevitably increases the cost of health care. However, in a study done by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, defensive medicine accounted for at most 9% of the total cost of health care, and most experts doubt it’s that high. Some estimate it’s as little as 1%. When our country spends 53% more than anyone on health care, Tort Reform would not represent a significant improvement..

Myth#1: If we having allow a public option our country will become a bankrupt and socialist.

Anytime a policy benefits the public by giving them something, it is seen as a hand out that will inevitably destroy this country. The same was said of Social Security when it was introduced by FDR in 1935. Medicare and Medicaid were also called “socialized medicine” when Truman introduced them in 1945. But we enacted all these programs and somehow the United States did not immediately become a socialist country. Today many of the politicians that would’ve probably been against these programs when they were introduced fight to keep them alive.

Why American Health Care

Obesity is America’s number one health problem. It commonly leads to diabetes, Type 2, heart disease, kidney disease, and sometimes cancer.

According to a recent report quoted by the New York Times, obese citizens spend about 42% more per year on health care than normal-weight Americans.

“Obesity, and with it diabetes, are the only major health problems that are getting worse in this country, and they’re getting worse rapidly,” Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, director of the Center for Disease Control, said.

If obesity is driving up health care costs, what can we do about it? Ask doctors to charge less? Make the drug
companies provide free diabetes medicines and diet pills to obese people? Ask the insurance companies to provide their services for free?

Maybe we could nationalize the whole health care system and force all American taxpayers share the cost equally of caring for these unfortunate Americans who are the victims of…what? The restaurant industry! That’s it! Fast food and Doritos did it to them! Lays potato chips: “Bet you can’t have just one!” They dared these poor souls to become addicted to their deadly products–and it worked!.

I’m sorry. I’m being ridiculous to make a point. My point is, our health care system is buckling under the weight of
the expensive round-about procedures we do and drugs we provide to counteract the effects of what people are doing to themselves.

Digging Our Graves With A Fork & Knife
We are a nation of food-aholics. Most of us don’t eat real foods prepared at home from fruit, vegetables, whole grains and beans. Most of what we eat has to center around either some animal meat and fat and lots of highly refined carbohydrates. Very few vitamins and minerals are left in our food–and almost no fiber. And we wonder why we get fat , have diabetes, heart attacks, and require expensive medical care.

My medical care costs me nothing but the time it takes to do some daily exercises and eat right. Chalk
it up partially to vanity–I never wanted to let myself get overweight or suffer the diseases that plagued my family tree.

A big part of my medical care is to eat what science and my conscience tells me I should, rather than stuff that merely tastes good.

But it’s all worth it to me. I’m not pleading with the government to get me health care. Nobody had to inform me that eating too much of the wrong foods would make me sick: I figured it out on my own after reading a few good books and research reports. It wasn’t hard–and it was a benefit for me to stay well.

What would I do about the health of the American people?
The best thing the health care professionals could do is to stop coddling us. Stop treating us like imbeciles.
Tell us the truth. I suspect that if doctors and public health officials leveled with citizens and told them the
golden truth that “We all are about 97% responsible for our own health, based on what we choose to eat,” it might make an impression after a while.

It probably won’t happen, I know, because the fast-food industry and other makers of fat-food(meat packers and the dairy and sugar industries) are in control of our FDA and the US Department of Agriculture. They would scream bloody murder if the public were told the truth about how their food products are the reason our arteries are plugged up with cholesterol and why we’re growing obese.

But, the bottom line is, we don’t have to eat those foods. Nobody is forcing us to eat foods that lead to heart
attacks, breast cancer, strokes, Alzheimer’s Disease, colon cancer, etc., etc. If you don’t believe me, then read the medical research that clearly establishes the connection between what we eat and these diseases.

Did you know that there are still pockets of people who still eat traditional diets that are primarily vegetarian–and
they rarely have heart attacks. Their women very rarely get breast cancer. People of these nations live to 90 and 100 years frequently, with sharp minds, good eyesight and they continue to work in their gardens and orchards. They are respected and contributing members of their society. If we chose to eat like these people, we could reduce our need for expensive and dangerous health care.

Here’s a simple truth of economics: If there was no demand for health care because everyone was healthy, then health care would be cheap. It’s a matter of supply and demand. A lot of cardiologists standing around with no triple-bypasses to do would quickly lower their prices. That’s my answer to the high cost of health care: Get healthy!

How do you get healthy? A good starting place to help you understand what’s wrong with our typical American diet is a book by T. Colin Campbell, Jr., PhD, entitled “The China Study.”

Paul H. Kemp is a lifelong entrepreneur, writer, and amateur athlete. Hanging out with many amateur, pro, and the occasional Olympic athletes, together with extensive reading of medical research literature, have given him an insight into what high-performance athletes eat when they want optimum performance.

Senator Ted Kennedy on the Importance of Health Care

Senator Ted Kennedy has shown true leadership in his quest for health care reform over the last four decades. I’ve been a small business owner for the last several years, after having been with two global technology companies. Health care reform and insurance, in particular, is critical to our country. Without it, we will certainly be driven into far more financial turmoil than we are in today.

I recently read Senator Ted Kennedy’s health care reform article printed in Newsweek called “The Cause of My Life”. In this article Mr. Kennedy talks about why he has tirelessly lobbied for universal health care throughout his career.

Mr. Kennedy has had plenty of tragedy and medical issues throughout his family’s life. Health care reform became a rallying cry for him when his 12 year old son, Teddy, had his right leg amputated because of cancer. During his son’s cancer treatments, he met and spoke with many families, who unlike the Kennedy’s did not have the ability to afford quality medical care.

As a small business owner with two children, we are all too acutely aware of how important it is to have health care coverage. This is especially true if you are the only bread winner and there is no other coverage.

My elderly father was recently hospitalized after fainting at home. After 5 days of hospitalization, they finally deduced that he had anemia due to a bleeding ulcer. The cost of the hospital stay … sixty four thousand dollars ($64,000). This didn’t even include the 911 ambulance ride, or the doctor’s visits. Fortunately, for my father he had insurance, which covered most of the cost. Can you imagine someone who could not afford this cost?

Senator Ted Kennedy had additional experiences within his own immediate family. His son Patrick was hospitalized several times for serious asthma attacks and his daughter, Kara, was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2002. Fortunately for both children, their father was able to pay for medical treatment and they are both alive and well today. Without Mr. Kennedy’s health care reform, countless families would not be so lucky.

Mr. Kennedy and actually all of the Kennedy brothers have always been a champion of the common people. He could have chosen easier policies on which to fight and win, but he chose this cause because he knew this is a cause that affects all of us at some point in our lives. We are one of the few industrialized countries without some form of universal health care.

I also just returned from visiting one of my college friends who is terminally ill, also with cancer. For weeks, his insurance company denied him coverage to go to the hospital. Only after pleading with them and telling them how ill he was, did they “grant” him coverage. Then, when it was determined that he only had a few weeks to live, they initially denied him hospice care to live out his short life at home. Why would any sane health care insurance company deny someone a better quality of life, even though it’s been determined that it also saves them money?

Senator Ted Kennedy may well succeed in death as he tried to do in life … to create real health care reform. With the support of Barack Obama’s administration, we could be on our way to creating a country that lives up to its creed of taking care of the poor and the rich, the old and the young, and the uninsured, as well as the insured.