Health Care in the U.S.

Most countries throughout the developed world have government run health care systems for good reason:

  1. It is far easier than having to deal with many different private insurance companies and shopping for insurance and comparing best benefits and rates.
  2. A single national insurance with hundreds of millions of clients can bargain for much better rates from hospitals, doctors, medical test facilities, etc. than many much smaller insurance carriers.  This means big savings in overall medical expenses. Medicare for example generally gets much better rates from doctors and hospitals than private insurance companies. That is why some doctors don’t like Medicare patients.
  3. Medications are much cheaper because of the large leverage that a government run insurance company has to negotiate prices with pharmaceutical companies.  That is why you can buy US made medications from Canada at dramatically lower prices than in the US where they are manufactured.  For seniors who spend thousands of dollars a year for medication this can make a big difference.
  4. The overhead for a national health insurance company is much lower than private insurance companies.  No need to advertise or have many sales offices and sales persons and staff.  Our Medicare system has a 2% overhead rate (look for your self on the internet).  Typical overhead for private insurance companies is 10-20%.
  5. Everything is the same.  For those using Medicare you have first hand experience.  It’s simpler than dealing with most private insurance companies.  Everyone follow only one set of rules and procedures for dealing with insurance.  In most government run medical care countries there are no billings so you don’t have to worry about paying for medical care.
  6. If you would like better medical care then you can purchase supplemental insurance which will cover medical procedures or upgraded treatments and facilities not covered by the government plan.

There has been much criticism about medical care in Canada but if you speak to a Canadian they will likely tell you that medical care in Canada is quite good.  There are a lot of rumors that people come to the U.S. for treatment or that doctors would rather work in the U.S. than in Canada due to better pay.  There is no evidence of this being true.  It is true that things were not that good when they first implemented their government run system but most of the bugs have been resolved.  Most certainly there are many instances in the U.S. where private run systems have all kinds of problems and unhappy clients.

There is a culture in America that is strongly opposed to anything that is socialized yet our Medicare system has been running for decades and most seniors love it.  I have been using it for some time now and have no complaints.  No co-pays to worry about.  Together with a supplemental insurance plan it’s like a total government sponsored medical system.  No need to deal with medical bills.  My greatest medical expense by far is for medication.  Under a government sponsored plan medications will be a fraction of what I now have to pay such as it is in Canada.

So what is the drawback of a government sponsored medical care system?  It will mean fewer jobs in the insurance industry.  How will it be paid for?  It will probably come out of our taxes but most likely the amount taken out will be significantly less than that people and employers are currently paying for insurance premiums.  The amount people pay will be proportional to their income.  No one will be denied medical care.   For those now getting insurance from their companies as a benefit they will now get higher salaries which were once paid by the company as insurance premiums.

The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is an attempt to hybridize medical care between the current commercial insurance system and a government run or controlled system.  This will never be as efficient or cheap as a strictly government health care system since it is still quite complex and the overhead of private insurance companies will always be high.  However overall it is better that what has existed in the past.  Unfortunately this will not necessarily be beneficial for everyone at present.  There will be those who will pay more than they currently pay, mainly self-insured individuals who do not qualify for government subsidies.  These are primarily those in the middle class.  The numbers of such individuals is supposed to be less than 10% of the insured population but if you happen to be one of the unfortunate few this will not make you feel any better about Obamacare.  Some of these unfortunate individuals are getting cancellation notices from their current insurers.  There are also some who work for small businesses which used to provide insurance coverage but are now dropping it.  These individuals are also going to pay more.  So there are some very unhappy people which Obamacare raises the cost of insurance and may decrease coverage.  A government health care system would likely not have such problems.

There are other benefits from the Affordable Care Act such as not being denied insurance due to pre-existing conditions, removing lifetime limits of coverage, provides for free annual screening for various diseases such as breast cancer and osteoporosis, provides an annual wellness checkup, covers maternity and newborn care, etc.  Doctors and medical facilities are now required to digitize medical records and make them available on-line to patients.  There are other medical reform measures taking place to streamline and improve the efficiency and cost effectiveness of medical care.  So it’s not just a change in medical insurance.

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One Response to Health Care in the U.S.

  1. Pingback: Which Economic ‘…ism’ I Think is Best? | ouR Social Conscience

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