Sunday, March 21, 2010

Questions About Health Care

I woke up a little stiff, sore, and cranky after working in the yard all day yesterday, so I'm in the right frame of mind and body to ask a few questions and make a few comments on the subject of the health care overhaul debate. Here's what comes immediately to mind...

Why is it so hard to get straight, unbiased, information about the true cost of health care and the implications of various options? Insurance companies, the AMA, the pharmaceutical industry, and every group representing a demographic slice (age, religion, sex, etc) of the population has its own view reflecting its own interests...and which takes no account of the legitimate interests of anyone else. Who is providing us the bottom-line information that will help us decide whether or not a particular reform bill is any good? (Hint: this is a trick question...the answer is nobody. The closest thing you'll find is at

Why do we tie health insurance to employment? Aren't unemployed people allowed to get sick?

Why do we pay for medical and dental insurance separately?

Why do you pay medical insurance premiums, and a deductible, and a co-pay for each visit to the doctor? Your auto collision insurance has premiums and a deductible...but you don't have a co-pay each time you go to the body shop. I guess if your body is made of metal and fiberglass, different economic rules apply.

Insurance companies are not in business to pay for your health care. They are in business to make money. Your good health is incidental to that.

Why do we file so many lawsuits about medical malpractice, which lead to such enormous jury awards? While I'm sure there are cases of true and egregious malpractice, one can't ignore the enormous cost of malpractice insurance premiums to doctors as a factor in the cost of health care. Should there be a cap on malpractice suit awards?

When I had a hernia repaired a few years ago, the total out-of-pocket cost to me - the surgery and prescriptions - was less than $100. The root canal and follow-up crown that I had done this year cost almost $1200 out-of-pocket. Why is there such an enormous disparity in the costs of medical and dental care? And oh-by-the-way - if I hadn't had a good job that provided insurance coverage, I'd likely still be walking around with a hernia and an insanely painful dead tooth (see question #2 above).

Those are just a few of the questions and observations that come to mind as I ponder the issue of health care reform. And when the shouting blowhards at Faux News thunder that "the American people don't want health care reform," they didn't ask me. Despite what those morons would have you believe, I am an American. I want affordable health care. And I want answers a guy like me can understand so that I can make an informed decision.

That's it for now. I'm feeling cranky...but I'd really like someone to answer those questions for me.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.



Bandit said...

You posed some good questions.

Mike said...

It's been awhile since I've been to Thanks for reminding me about it.

The Mistress of the Dark said...

It seems we're talking about the same thing today in a roundabout way.

SusieQ said...

Gee, Bilbo, I watch Fox News all the time and I have never heard them claim that Americans do not want health care reform. You would know that if you watched Fox news yourself very much.

What Fox reports is that while Americans want some reform, most Americans do not want what is being voted on in the House today.

Most Americans want Congress to scrap the 2000+ page monster and start over. They do not trust it. They want reform in increments. They do not want the system overhauled all at once. They do like certain features of the current bill. But we can have those features without going overboard.

Doctors and other health care providers deserve to be adequately compensated for their expertise and services. Medicare and Medicaid is already failing to do that causing many doctors to refuse to treat patients who fall under these two protections. It is going to get worse with the cuts to Medicare and Medicaid under this bill while so many baby boomers are due to retire soon. This means that patients who rely on Medicare and Medicaid will suffer. This means that the elderly and the poor will suffer.

By the way, did you know that Medicare does not cover routine dental care and other dental procedures such as your root canal for instance?

I am not optimistic about this bill. I hope I am wrong and that the health care reform that comes out of Congress will end up being a good thing for all of us.

Bilbo said...

Bandit - that's why I posed them!

Mike - it's a good site...well researched, well-documented, and they take aim at all sides of the arguments.

Andrea - right you are!

SusieQ - Actually, Faux News has pretty much replaced CNN as the station of choice on TVs in the Pentagon, so I see more of it than I otherwise would probably want...and in any case, I prefer to get my news from reading the papers and news magazines. I think you are probably right - most Americans don't trust the "2000+ page monster." I don't, either. But what I don't trust more than anything else is the complete lack of honest information that would help people like you and I make informed decisions and decide what to tell our elected representatives to do. As I wrote, we are bombarded every day with selected bits and pieces of information that spins the argument the way the commentator wants...the AMA, the insurance industry, the pharmaceutical industry, and all the various special interests spin us all up with their narrow view of what's needed in health care reform. There isn't anyone out there who is refereeing the "discussion" and calling people on the outrageous lies and misinformation they're pumping out...things like "death panels," for instance. My problem with Faux News is that it's blatantly and unashamedly conservative and utterly opposed to anything the Democratic Party in general and President Obama in particular support. If they would just stop the relentless drumbeat of reflexive anti-administration rhetoric and try to balance their reporting, they'd do a better service for you and I and all the Americans who are suffering under a hyper-partisan, divided government that has lost the ability to rationally compromise and work in the people's best interest.

SusieQ said...

The newspapers are dying for lack of readers. We plan to cancel our subscription to the Chicago Tribune which we have had for a long time. It has become a ghost of what it used to be. No news there.

You say you get your news from newspapers and news magazines. Nothing wrong with that at all, except it appears you are just as confused as I am about this bill, what it contains, and how it will change our country.

Like you I want in-depth discussion on this issue. I want to hear from the insurance industry, the pharmaceuticals, the health care folks (doctors, hospitals, etc.)and all the rest. I really do not think we have heard ENOUGH from these entities. It is as if they have been muzzled by somebody. I want to hear their side of the story.

Listen, I know people like Hannity and O'Reilly do not appeal to you, because of their conservative views. But try watching Greta Van Susteran on Fox. She is very good. From what I have observed, she appears to lean a little left of center politically.

Bilbo said...

SusieQ - here's my last word on this topic. Believe it or not, I'm a fundamentally conservative fellow, to the extent that those labels mean anything any more. What makes me sound "liberal" is the fact that I expect better from my fellow "conservatives." I expect thoughtful discussion and informed debate of serious issues, not reflexive denunciation of those who have contrary views. I believe that the best ideas come from well-informed and well-reasoned give and take that leads to compromise, and not a scorched earth approach that automatically ascribes the worst motivations to the opposite side and scorns principled compromise as craven "selling out." That's the bottom line: I EXPECT BETTER. I've just given up on getting it.

Leslie David said...

Bill, excellent questions, why isn't dental health considered on a par with medical health? Aren't teeth part of the body? I'd like information relayed in a clear and concise form without all the rhetoric and without being 2000 pages long. I'm just worried to see what games the Republicans play on the Senate side to try and kill the bill or delay it to the point of killing it. Sorry to sound cynical but how many politicians really have our best interests instead of their own at heart? Believe me, I want to be wrong.