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.

Universal Health Care

Health Care: The History

Health care costs have skyrocketed over the last few decades. While there are numerous reasons for this, the bulk of these medical cost increases have come with advancements in medical practices and technology. Advanced procedures such as kidney dialysis, neurosurgery, MRIs, chemotherapy etc, cost money to provide. Rather than absorb these costs and go out of business, health care providers pass these costs onto insurance companies, who (also to avoid absorbing these costs and going out of business) then pass these costs off to their plan members through increased deductibles and premiums. An unfortunate consequence is this also means that those who need these treatments the most (often times the more elderly) become more expensive to cover. Health insurance companies adjust to this by either raising premiums or deductibles, or denying coverage altogether if the potential members appears to be too costly to cover. In fact, underwriting (researching potential members and deciding how much to charge in premiums and deductibles or whether or not to even cover them if it appears to be a loss) costs resources and money in itself, which again, is passed onto consumers through their deductibles and premiums. What this means is that providing health insurance only works as a viable business model if those who are in the greatest need it are denied their needed coverage (or charged premiums or deductibles they may not be able to afford). Insurance companies profit provide potential treatment to those who are likely to need it the least. Like any other business model, revenue must be maximized while costs are reduced.

Why Medicare Costs Have Increased

This increased cost in health care doesn’t stop with the private sector. Public health insurance programs such as Medicaid and Medicare are affected to an even greater extent. Whereas private health insurance companies adjust to rising costs by passing them onto consumers or denying them coverage altogether, these public programs don’t turn people away, or charge them higher premiums for preconditions. Add to this the fact that Medicare insures senior citizens; the most costly to demographic to insure (imagine private health insurance premiums for a 68 year old who is far more likely to need a kidney dialysis or cancer treatments than someone far younger). It’s the same increased health care costs that are driving up private health insurance costs as well as Medicare/Medicaid costs. The burden this places on Medicare doesn’t quite end here however. Beyond good publicity, private health insurance companies have little reason to proactivly offer real preventative treatments knowing that later-in-life illnesses will be covered by another insurer (most likely Medicare). So while private health insurers skip this cos, it’s Medicare that picks up the bill for this lack of preventative later-in-life illness treatment. Furthermore, it’s far more costly to provide these treatments than it is to prevent them.

Single Payer Health Care

A Single Payer system would effectively fix the bulk of these problems. As a non-profit organization, such a plan would have the benefit of reduced costs all around. Private health insurance companies spend a lot of money, time and resources underwriting (screening prospective members), and deciding whether or not to even cover them as well as going back and forth with providers (who shift their end of the costs back on the insurance who then shifts that cost to its members). Other costs include, advertising, paying dividends, well-paid CEOs and executives and lobbying politicians to discourage them from passing any health care bill which might reduce their market share or profit margins. They also pay for tactically misleading advertisements scare the public into believing horrific (though incorrect) things about proposed legislature. These costs are all passed onto customers by way of higher deductible and premiums. A public plan would forego these costs.

In addition to all of this, there would exist the advantage of having economy of scale. A Single Payer plan covering the entire country would be able to truly spread out costs per unit, to a far greater extent than any single private health insurance can (because of the number of customers it would have). And since the same plan would cover its members throughout their life, there would be real incentive to provide proactive treatments to later-in-life illnesses to avoid the cost of emergency treatments down the road. Other advanced countries have universal health coverage of this nature (or something closer to it, and less privatized than the United States) and are able to ensure their entire populations for less money per person, and health care consumes a far smaller share of their GDP. While many detractors will object, claiming that such a plan would be too costly, the US pays more in taxes for Medicare/Medicaid and government employee insurance as a percentage of GDP than other nations pay for their Single Payer Plan. People in these countries also have lower infant mortality rates and longer lifespans. Taiwan provides the perfect test case. Several years ago, Taiwan moved away from a privatized system to Single Payer (modeled after our Medicare system). The result was virtually universal health care coverage for a small percentage of their GDP. The United States already has the ideal plan in place: Medicare. It simply needs to be expanded to cover everyone.