Trying to raise my kids the best I can

Friday, September 09, 2005

Improving our healthcare system

The state of health care in America is one that needs to be addressed. The lack of health coverage is a problem that is only worsening. Health expenses are growing due to new (expensive) medical discoveries, aging population, a boom in type II diabetes, and not enough medical personnel to go around.

Health insurance is getting more and more expensive. Companies are passing on the expense to their employees or sometimes cutting benefits altogether. My husband’s company had an inadequate health plan. Recently they announced that the first $2500 in medical expenses will not be covered. When I complained to a coworker, he said that it is an industry-wide problem. Meaning that, my husband probably couldn’t find a better deal elsewhere.

There needs to be health insurance coverage available to the growing uncovered population, just above the poverty line. The poorest in our society are covered by Medicaid. Unfortunately, those just barely making it are often not covered. If they could get a similar amount of insurance for a small amount of money, that would eradicate one of the biggest health care problems facing our society today (-similar to the children’s coverage which does exist, only available for adults too). Of course it would have to be subsidized by the government, an idea I am slow to endorse. There is a lot of pork funded by the government. Health for our citizens, however, is a worthy endeavor of public dollars.

One of the lures of public welfare is not the small amount of income it provides, but rather the security of the Medicaid that comes with it. I won’t get into the welfare debate here, but I will say that welfare would be less enticing if there were other health care options for the poor.

The one medical expense that is going to be hard to keep down is the expense for all the new innovations in the health care industry. I myself am on a medicine that wasn’t even invented a decade ago. My life is better because of it. However, I have to shell out $20 a month for the medicine – plus the expense my insurance company has to pay. The same story could be said of many, many other health innovations. I believe that drug companies deserve the prices they charge, since they are funding past and future research with their earnings. I am happy to see that some drug companies are starting to help their poorest patients pay for their medicine.

One of the most unfair billing practices is that insurance carriers are given discounts on services – leaving the uninsured to pay hefty, inflated prices. The uninsured are generally the least able to do this. This practice needs to stop immediately, and I am pleased to hear that the issue is being addressed in some circles.

There is a continuous nursing shortage, as well as a shortage of other specialist and doctors, contributing to the health care crisis. There are not enough schools to provide for the societal need. I believe there are enough people interested in health care careers. The problem lies in educating them. The government needs to encourage more schools to open to provide for this need. They could easily do this by giving tax breaks for colleges with a certain number of students of the in-demand-professions.

Finally there is the issue of type II diabetes- an expensive but preventable disease. It will take many different avenues to address this issue. For instance, school lunches need to be overhauled. Corn farmer subsidies must end (other than for fuel purposes). Fruit and vegetable farmers need to be subsidized. Physical education must not get neglected in the race to educate our young. Newly built communities need to include sidewalks. The list could go on and on. It is a never ending battle, but one worth fighting.

The healthcare challenge is a daunting one. But it is one we must face, for the sake of our children.


  • At 3:47 PM, Blogger Bruce said…

    Cambodia doesn't have ever inflating costs of health care. We could try their model.

    Canada and England keep costs down (while medicine in nationalized) by putting expensive services on lists, which means that expensive services are delayed and rationed, and many people don't "need them any more" by the time they get to the top of the list.

    The former soviet republics had pretty fully nationalized health care. Dental too. And education. And guaranteed jobs. You'd think they'd be satisfied! Some people are never satisfied!

    The upside of an inflationary medical system is that new and better (and profitable) innovations are constantly being poured into the market. If people didn't demand any more than they did in 1980, say, and if folks with problems just not seek treatment, the costs would stay pretty stable. Now, my wife is profitably employed in trying to provide a new cure, which will no doubt start out by being expensive.

    Then: the issues you raise are important and valid. Some really smart people have devoted their careers to trying to answer them. We nonexperts are affected, so we have a right to push for answers too.

    About the $2500 deductable, you can get (reasonably I think) a supplemental insurance to cover the $200-2499 range. For those with no insurance, crisis insurance is available to cover large bills, e.g., $5000-$10,000,000.

  • At 5:05 AM, Blogger Deena said…

    Good point about Cambodia. I just read that it (along with several other countries) is failing miserably in its care for young children. Babies are dying of entirely preventable diseases like diarrhea. What a shame!


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