Thursday, June 04, 2009

Universal Health Care and Rationing - The effect on seniors and Lower and Middle Class Americans

In a an articlefrom the Washington Post, President Obama is taking a hard look at cost controls on health programs for seniors and the disabled – apparently suggesting that the model used be the same as that of military base closings. Meanwhile, Congressional Democrats met with a Canadian Socialist Party Leader, who is pushing hard for Obama’s Universal health Care Plan and one has to ask: what benefit would be brought to the Canadian Health Care system should the United States institute a similar program?

Measure are already being taken to “ration” certain costly procedures under Medicare: From a May 19th Wall Street Journal Article: “How Washington Rations”

Try to follow this logic: Last week the Medicare trustees reported that the program has an "unfunded liability" of nearly $38 trillion -- which is the amount of benefits promised but not covered by taxes over the next 75 years. So Democrats have decided that the way to close this gap is to create a new "universal" health insurance entitlement for the middle class.
Such thinking may be a non sequitur, but it will have drastic effects on the health care of all Americans -- and as it happens, this future is playing out in miniature in Medicare right now. Desperate to prevent medical costs from engulfing the federal budget, the program's central planners decided last week to deny payment for a new version of one of life's most unpleasant routine procedures, the colonoscopy. This is a preview of how health care will be rationed when Democrats get their way.


The system of rationing medical care and procedures in Canada has seen many Canadian citizens, who can afford the trip, seeking care in the United States in order to survive the waiting lists for lifesaving procedures. From a 2007 Canadian employee benefits newsletteroutlining the dangers of the U.S. adopting a similar system to Canada the statistics are unnerving: The average wait time for a routine cat scan is 4.3 weeks, and up to 17.8 weeks to see a family practitioner.

The problem for American’s is that, should a similar system be implemented with the same restrictions on health care delivery, even those with the means would be hard pressed to find adequate care in bordering Countries.

Should this President and like-minded legislature implement a program similar in scope to Canada’s, one has to question the government’s ability to administer any program efficiently, especially in light of worsening economic conditions. With the rising rate of unemployment, mass-retirement of the baby-boomers, and the high inflation that is certainly looming (See Bernake’s latest fears on the deficit.), now is not the time to look to “improving” the American Health Care System by nationalizing Health Care. It is a matter of millions of economics: Millions of citizens will be in need of government assisted health care as it stands, and the wherewithal to pay for the services will be greatly reduced by a drop in Government Income; the only solution would be to either outright deny or delay treatment for individuals in order to cut costs.

There are options available that would maintain the current system and save the government Medicaid and Medicare dollars: by stressing preventive care, and instituting a program whereby those receiving health care benefits, would monitor their bills, reporting discrepancies in billing (which does occur), and receiving rewards (reduction in premium perhaps for Medicare recipients), for finding billing errors that would save government millions. This is instituted in the private sector through self-funded employee benefit plans – and it works.

Problems facing health care providers: the high cost of malpractice insurance, the use of health care providers, including hospitals by those illegal immigrants who have neither an employee sponsored plan or Medicaid, with no reimbursement from any sector.
Additional costs for expensive elective surgery, now mandated in certain states, should not be the burden of the taxpayer. Massachusetts' Version of Universal Health Care, not only offers citizens 26 mandated benefits, with more planned, but taxes citizens who do not opt for health care coverage. Additionally, the cost of health insurance in Massachusetts rose across the board, once mandated health care was in place.

There is no question that the U.S. Health Care system (one of the best in the world) could be better, however, instituting policies that have already proven to be basic failures, with no means to pay for the programs, should be avoided at all costs.

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