Friday, April 18, 2014

The plot thickens... *cue the scary music*

I read a news story online this morning that began with the headline, "Treatment Cost Could Influence Doctors Advice To Patients".  It seems that "influential medical groups....are recommending that doctors weigh the costs, not just the effectiveness of treatments, as they make decisions about patient care."  

It's a slippery slope, to say the least.

This is the ammunition the "single payer" medical care advocates have been waiting for.  They have been pointing out with limited success that the best medical care is reserved for the wealthy, or at least the more well-to-do, while the rest of us have to make-do with something less.

It's a practice that has apparently been quietly acknowledged within the medical community for some time, but it hasn't become well known to the general population....yet.  I think it just stepped into the spotlight.

"Single payer" health care is a system in which the government, rather than private insurers, pay for all health care costs.  It's what they have in the UK, Canada, Australia, and many other, mainly European countries with a hefty "social safety net", supported by high taxes.

Proponents say it is the fairest way to see to it that everyone, regardless of their economic status, can get good quality health care.  Health care is a "right" we should all have equal access to, they say.  Detractors call it "socialized medicine", the key word being "socialized"....think "socialist".  *circle the wagons!*

On the one hand, the thought of our government administering anything sends cold shivers up my spine.  I can't imagine a more worthless work force than that mob of "civil servants" in Washington today pulling in bloated government paychecks. 

But on the other hand, I have friends in the UK and Canada and Australia and elsewhere who report that, all-in-all, the single payer model works well.  Wait times for elective procedures are often very long, but when they finally happen they won't send the patient straight to bankruptcy.

Not surprisingly my doctor, with whom I've had long talks with about this, and I would imagine my SIL "Doc" Chris, the insurers, etc. are scared to death of it.  But to an economically stagnant middle class it probably looks pretty good.

I think in the future, probably sooner rather than later, this will become a top burner political issue.  And it's gonna be a nasty one.



  1. The wealthy will always get better everything, including health care and I assume that is true in the UK and elsewhere. The Queen don't wait for an appointment.

    Nancy Pelosi said to vote for Obamacare so we can find out what is in it. This sounded ridiculous, but I believe I know what she meant. "Lets get something, anything on the books, so we can start to make it better and make it work." If we waited to get a perfect bill written it would never happen. The Wright Brothers plane sucked, but you just do not go from nothing to a 747.

    We need to stop bellyaching about OC and figure out where it works, where it doesn't work, fix what doesn't work and keep what does. Painful process, but worth the effort. Maybe we should include more doctors and insurance companies in the process than we do politicians and lawyers.

    1. Excellent observation and comment, Joe. The fewer politicians and lawyers the better in my book.

    2. The problem with the ACA is that it had TOO MANY insurance company lobbyists making sure the insurance companies were protected and would continue to gouge us. Also, remember that Social Security has "socialism" in it and I don't see anyone giving that up, even the wealthy.

  2. I'm a proponent of the ACA, and the idea of single-payer health insurance. I'm a retired doc, with a granddaughter born with an omphalocele that would have put my daughter and son-in-law in bankruptcy, despite him having a well-paying job with a big software company. Yes, we'll have longer wait times for elective procedures when emergency cases take the front of the line. But it'll be made up for by the cost savings of low-income people not having to wait until their issues become something for the ER.

    As to administrating health programs and gov't inefficency, guess what health care program has the lowest administrative costs by far? Yep, Medicare and Medicade, despite the publicity about fraud cases.

  3. My niece was hospitalized while traveling in China. Before being admitted she had to purchase a medical card for around sixty bucks. That was her only cost; the week in the hospital cost her nothing. I certainly don't want a bloated governmental bureaucracy but people shouldn't lose everything they've worked for in life because of an illness, especially when taxpayer money subsidizes the pharmaceutical companies that produce these cures.

  4. Could the fact that a colonoscopy runs around $3,000 here while it costs about $800 in Germany have anything to do with the higher bargaining power of a single payer? I believe that we are headed toward a single payer system...maybe not within a few years, but maybe within a few decades.

  5. Health care should be a right. The Founders wrote, "LIFE, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." In the supposed greatest country in the world we shouldn't have people dying when a simple operation could save them.

  6. Just heard a discussion on television about the USA's standing in various categories in the world. In the one regarding health care, it ranks 70th! Not first, as politicians and semi-politicians would have us believe.