In case you are one of the few people who think our health care system is wonderful, take a look at NPR Frontline's "Sick Around America" that aired last night. In case you don't have the time to watch it, here are the 2 most frightening stats:
1) It is estimated that 20,000 Americans die each year because they could not get the health care they need.....in the richest country in the World!
2) 24% of our health care dollars go to administration, more than double the cost in the rest of the world....WHERE THEY HAVE GOV'T RUNNING IT! That's right, our health care system spends money less efficiently than the British Government! And that 24% in part goes to the cost of making sure sick people DON'T get treatment.
The show focused on the problems of people like me, who have to purchase their own health care, and our at the mercy of a system that allows the companies to drop us, or not accept our business, if they believe we pose a risk. This appears to indicate that we will gradually have an army of people in their 50's and 60's who are too young for medicare, and, because of their age and the fact that they may have had some problem in the past, can not get private insurance.
What does that mean to me? Well, here I am, a pretty healthy 53 year old, who is told by everyone how I need to go have a physical and find out what could be wrong with me. The only problem is that if some condition is found for which I need to be treated, that will make me un-insurable in the future. So, the financial incentive is not to do the wise thing medically, but to wait until I have a real disaster and need the insurance I have. Sound crazy?
We are the only rich country in the world that allows people to die because they can't afford treatment. We have a system of private insurance companies with an incentive to NOT have you get the care you need, and that doesn't want to pay for things like physicals, because the company insuring you now wants you to be sick on someone else's bill. Our life expectancy and infant mortality rates trail the rest of the rich world. But Conservative will tell you how awful it will be if government gets more involved.
Unfortunately, the vested interests will prevail, and we will get no significant reform. Obama's proposals are not enough. We need to blow up our system and start over. Fat chance.