I am all for universal coverage. I think health care is a public good and a human right. It’s not a private good, like buying a car. In my opinion, we should stop pretending that health care delivery is a business. It really is a state-sponsored service.
But, will we manage the bumps as we transition the system? It is a new world for health care. Here are three recent personal examples.
First, my health care premiums just went up 31%. No advanced warning from Blue Cross Blue Shield. Just an invoice. I haven’t polled around but have heard the same from one of our entrepreneurs and my business partner, Eric.
Second, I had to wait four weeks for my insurance company to approve a routine prescription. My doctor’s office went back and forth with Blue Cross to argue that I truly needed the medicine. The nurse practitioner says that the insurers are doing that across the board: make you jump through hoops.
And, third, I recently called for my annual physical. It’s a wait of five months, when I’m usually seen in just a few weeks.
We live in the state of Massachusetts, which is one of the leaders on universal health care, outcomes management, electronic medical records, and the use of online exchanges. So, I’m not sure what’s happened with my health care. Are things getting better or worse?
FWIW, I never believed the politicians when they said that the health care reforms could do the following:
- Expand coverage to all
- Allow for pre-existing conditions
- Not make changes to your current plan or doctor
- Lower costs
I’m not in the medical field, but I think of health care as a Thanksgiving dinner. You invite more people to the dinner and there’s simply less turkey to go around. So, the idea that you can expand coverage to more people without adding cost to the system didn’t add up to me. And, you simply cannot overnight create a bunch more doctors.
That’s why I think we’re go to end up with a form of rationing. Some will make do with less turkey so that others can eat. Every other industrialized nation has a “single payer” system (the federal government, and not insurers, reimburses hospitals and doctors), and the U.S. is the only exception. If you’re for universal coverage, I think you cannot have an “all you can eat” health care system. So, someone has to step in and ration care.
In the end, I’m actually OK with it. I’m OK paying much more in taxes and health care premiums, if that’s the price for others getting health care. My concern is how woefully inefficient the system is. I don’t mind paying more, but I’d love to get more bang for the buck.
Last, I just have the feeling though that 95% of Congress, which is approving the legislation, has no clue as to what they’ve done. I truly believe there’s no one driving the bus on this topic and really understands all the complexities.