Why Our Healthcare System Must Change

The American Healthcare system is sick. The fundamental reason is that there is no competition. Staying alive is not something a buyer can choose to forego. You don’t have to buy a car if it is too expensive or you can buy a cheaper, smaller one, or a used one. The same is true of a television, furniture, a house or the choice of steak, chicken or beans.

You don’t have that choice to downsize, buy something cheaper, or just not buy at all if you are pregnant, you or your child is sick, or you are in an accident. You must buy regardless of the price. Often, the seller (doctor or hospital) can’t or won’t tell you in advance what the cost will be.

Our healthcare system was sick before Obamacare. The ACA, by making everyone contribute to the support of a bloated and uncompetitive system, bought a little time. It slowed the rise of costs but they still rose. Just at a slower rate. Healthcare charges will continue to rise under the Republican plans to replace the ACA.

The Republican solutions rely on covering fewer people, roughly 20 million fewer, and downsizing the policies for those who are left. Essentially, it is a return to what we had before Obamacare—a system twice as expensive as any other in the world where benefits are limited by insurance companies and costs and profits continue to rise for no reason other than that there is nothing to prevent it. It is a system where Medicare and Medicaid will eventually bankrupt the country.

The Democratic solution of eliminating insurance company middlemen and their profits and shifting the increasing costs to Government won’t work in the long run either. Even with the government paying the bill, costs for those programs will inevitably rise because there is nothing to prevent it. Look at how the cost of the Epi-Pen has gone up to $600 for common ingredients that cost around $2 dollars. Even aspirin and band-aids at the corner pharmacy have profit margins that make auto makers drool.

In 2008, before Obamacare, “Frontline” a Public Television program documented the healthcare systems in England, Japan, Germany, Switzerland and Taiwan. All except England have private doctors, private hospitals and even private insurance companies. Yet, they all were able to deliver Universal Healthcare at less than half of the U.S. cost. There are no long waiting lines. Their healthcare is as good or better than ours.

How do they do it when our only solutions are to deny care or pay whatever is charged? The answer is providers are not allowed to charge whatever they want. The government sets reasonable limits on charges. An Epi-Pen that costs pennies to make doesn’t sell for $600 in Europe. There, as with our neighbors, Canada and Mexico, life-saving medicines made in the USA are sold for a fraction of what they cost the American taxpayer and patient.

America’s employer funded healthcare is the most expensive in the world by approximately double, is riddled with waste, fraud and abuse. The government funded programs are too, even though they currently pay a little less to providers.

We should no longer put up with a healthcare system that leaves many in our nation with Third World healthcare while we, and employers, pay ridiculous prices that no one else in the world is charged.

The PBS documentary on Frontline is available on the internet. It is called “Sick Around the World”. Taxpayers and elected officials should take the time to watch it.