Monday, October 16, 2006

Universal Healthcare In California

I just read this article that was in yesterdays paper. On the surface it seems great, here is the CEO of Blueshield named Bruce Bodaken talking about universal healthcare in California, except he talks in really vague terms and of course he leaves out some really, really important information. Such as universal healthcare that is a single payer system.

"As a longtime advocate of universal health coverage, I see reason for hope in the current political environment. Leaders of both parties and many important interests agree that the current system is failing. No matter who wins on election day, virtually everyone acknowledges the need for serious reform to control rapidly rising costs and extend coverage to the more than 6.5 million Californians who have no health insurance. If negotiators all come to the table ready to find a compromise, we could be looking at a dramatic breakthrough."


"--There's no monopoly on wisdom: Consuming 16 percent of our economy, our health care system is huge, complex and vital to every American. People who want to reform the system must recognize that compromises are necessary to create a political consensus that can produce substantial change.

-- There's no free lunch: Health care costs money. Providing it to more people will cost more money. The idea that we can make significant gains without anyone having to contribute more to the system is attractive, but doesn't square with reality. Achieving universal coverage will require universal responsibility, with business, individuals and the government all contributing to the solution. It will also require health plans, providers, technology manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies to provide better value."

Read the whole story here.

What he means by "compromises" is that the system essentially must stay the same and that private companies must make huge amounts of money on your healthcare no matter what and the very thing that will save us the most money the quickest and easiest would cause his company not to exist anymore. Not surprisingly, that is one of the "compromises" he is not willing to make and probably is not interested in having you know that at least 25% of healthcare costs are administrative and tied to doctors and support staff dealing with all the different insurance companies in order to get all the proper forms filled out and get paid.

You can read some good information here about what I am talking about.

Below is an example.

* Number of bankruptcies in the US in 2001: 1,458,000

* Percent of these bankruptcies for which illness was a significant cause: 50 [7]

* Percent increase in bankruptcies between 1981 and 2001: 360

* Percent increase in medical bankruptcies between 1981 and 2001: 2,200

* Percent of medical bankruptcies in which the sick person was insured when they fell ill: 75.7

* Percent of these bankruptcies that happen to the middle class: 90

* Percent of terminally ill patients reporting that medical costs caused financial problems: 39

* Rank of “lapse in health insurance coverage during the two years” as a predictor of medical bankruptcy: 1

* Rank of US in fairness of financial contribution to health care: 55

* Rank of Iraq: 56

This idea that there is no "free lunch" is absurd and he knows it, we already pay the most per capita in the world for healthcare and our outcomes (life expectancy, infant mortality rate) are, shall we say, not very good for the money as you can see for yourself if you go here and have a look.

In fact our healthcare "system", which isn't a system at all, is an embarrassment to any sane person.

Or should be.

Here is an interesting Pew survey of healthcare. Scroll down.

What is interesting is that people are willing to pay more in taxes for everyone to have universal healthcare.

Just keep this in mind when they tell you people don't want to pay for universal healthcare. Quite simply they are lying. The vast, vast majority of people want universal healthcare but the large companies that make billions of profits from the current system don't want it.



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