07 May 2009

Beating a Dead Horse?

I realize that I tend to talk a lot about healthcare on this blog – I really feel like it’s one of the most important issues facing our nation.  I also realize I’m preaching to the choir for most of you – so thanks for humoring me.  LOL

Senators Baucus and Grassley held committee hearings on Tuesday.  On the agenda was “Expanding Health Care Coverage”.

From Senator Baucus’s prepared statement: (Emphasis Added)

First, the U.S. is the only developed country without health coverage for all of its citizens.  Approximately 87 million people – one in three Americans – went without health insurance for some period during 2007 and 2008.  And the situation is only getting worse.

Second, the economic climate has caused even more people to become uninsured.  According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, for every one percent increase in the unemployment rate, Medicaid and CHIP enrollment increases by one million.  And the number of uninsured Americans increases by one point one million.

In today’s economy, that means a lot of folks are affected.  In March 2009, the unemployment rate rose to eight point one percent.  According to the Center of American Progress, 14,000 more people lose their health insurance coverage every day.

Third, why is covering all Americans so critical?  It is because people without health coverage generally experience poorer health and worse health outcomes than those who are insured.  The Urban Institute reports that 22,000 uninsured adults die prematurely every year because they lack access to care.

In addition to the uninsured, another 25 million Americans are “underinsured”.  They don’t have enough coverage to keep their medical bills manageable.  Despite their insurance coverage, medical debt keeps these Americans from feeding their families, paying their rent, or heating their homes.”

From that statement – it would seem that Senator Baucus “gets it”.  Unfortunately, the Senator chose to ignore the possibility of a single payer system.  He and Senator Grassley refused to allow a representative of a single payer system a seat on their panel. Several organizations decided to protest this “oversight”, resulting in a minor disruption of the events.

The most popular argument against government sponsored single payer healthcare is “I don’t want the government choosing my doctor!”  How exactly is this different that the current insurance system?  Doctors credential themselves with insurances in order to be “in network” – if the doctor you “choose” is not in network your benefit is severely reduced.  The best example would be an employer provided health care plan that locks you into a Catholic hospital system.  Your access to reproductive healthcare (hysterectomy, vasectomy, tubal ligation, etc.) is reduced because of this “choice”.  

Of course single payer detractors never mention that.



  1. I have heard that response so many times to government health care and it drives me crazy. I have to admit that while I do wish we had a univeral health care program, I do not know all the pros and cons to it.

    It would seem, off the top of my head, that insurance companies & health care professionals would be against it. Well, probably not all HC professionals, the ones that enter the field to help people instead of the pay might be for it. I could probably just take up like three pages of comments just listing all that is going on in my head right now about it, and then debunking what I just said. See, I am already rambling :)

    What I would like to know is why people refuse to understand that the more healthy people we have, the lower the costs will be. So the more people that are insured, then they have access to health care, then the more healthy Americans we will have. And a lot less crowding in ERs.

    Keep posting about HC, I would like to understand it better.

  2. That's just code for "I-think-the-government-will-screw-up-the-system-for-me". It's tough to combat the belief of many that Federal Government programs will make matters worse. Of course, I know for a fact that state government programs in red states are much more dysfunctional, badly funded, and completely nonsensical but no one ever wishes to talk about that, either.