Thursday, September 3, 2009

Obamacare Will Not Work

Editorial Submission - August 10, 2009

President Obama is correct in noting that America's health care system is too expensive and works too poorly for too many people. His solution - socialized medicine - is destined to fail for exactly the same reasons.

Obamacare is built on deception

For starters the Federal government has no demonstrated capacity to administer health care. Take a quick look at the inconsistencies of government services for Veterans and active duty military. Long lines, rationing, and quality control problems persistently plague both systems.

Some argue that government administered Medicare works, but it survives only by underpaying service providers and transferring the true costs to those with private pay insurance. In other words the government has to cheat to keep Medicare afloat.

Big government advocates are notorious for consistently underestimating the projected costs of new initiatives - it is true for wars in foreign lands - it is true for social programs. In this case, even the advocates for publically funded health care are finding the costs of Obamacare unsustainable.

If the socialist among us can pull of the con, we will get publically funded healthcare in one form or another. In the face of an aging population of baby boomers and a fast developing national budget crisis, one of two things will be certain to happen. The system will be milked until it collapses or rationing of services will eventually mock the promises of something for nothing used to sell the lemon.

What is wrong with the current system

Contrary to popular understanding, America does not have a free market health care system. In truth we have a hybrid mishmash of socialized medicine and consumer driven health care that is gamed by just about everybody.

We can start with you and me. Americans eat and drink too much, exercise too little, and rely on medicine to fix the results. The best and least expensive health care program is prevention and that responsibility starts with the person you greet in the mirror each morning.

The medical profession has become just that - a profession. Marcus Welby, M.D. began to retire when bureaucrats and lawyers began stepping into the examining room. Just as teachers have been disenfranchised from their classrooms, our physicians have lost control of their practices. The outcome - an increasing dedication to revenue over relationships that has too many M.D.'s, and especially specialists, milking the system for every dime they can effectively codify.

Then there is the reason so many of us enjoy lawyer jokes. Before his fall from grace, former Democrat Presidential contender and attorney John Edwards specialized in personal injury cases. That is where he developed his talents at manipulation and did his part to add to the $700 we each spend annually to fund medical tort liabilities.

Government games the system routinely by promising big services and then refusing to pick up the tab. In shifting the real costs to those of us who buy our own insurance, "Big G" effectively creates a health care tax hidden in the paperwork. Add all the unfunded mandates they pile on hospitals and a big share of every health care dollar is eaten up in Washington.

You may remember Ross Perot cautioning us on the "giant sucking sound" that NAFTA would create in America. Hospitals are the community version of the same phenomena. The bigger they are and the more they participate in the technology race, the more dollars they suck out of somebody's pocket. Though we love them so, one of the best places in your community to pick up a staph infection and a big bill is within the hallowed doors of your local hospital.

If you have watched the commercials touting the latest 'got to have it' drug, 'free' motorized scooter, or other 'you deserve it' medical service, then you know that there are a host of marketing agents driving health care in America. Marketing agents are rarely trained in patient health - they are well trained in advancing the bottom line.

We won't even talk about the ways health insurance companies manipulate the system to their advantage, but they are just as good as the rest of us at reaching into someone else's pockets. Unfortunately, America is running out of pockets.

So what is the solution?

America needs to play to its strength to fix our health care system. Our free market economy, if turned loose, holds the potentials to bring health care down to earth. Think flat screen TVs and what the free market did to availability and costs over a few short years. Speaking of short, here is a short list of ways to fix America's health care system without giving up America's heritage-

1) Get the lobbyist out of government - pharmaceutical and medical lobbyist spend a ton of our money each year manipulating the system to personal advantage. Get hold of the PAC contributions that your local Congressman receives from these folks to buy his/her seat in Washington and you will be ashamed of how our system has been corrupted.

2) Higher participant costs for those who abuse their health through obesity, smoking, drug abuse, and other high risk behaviors - self indulgence creates a bill that no society can sustain. Reintroducing the concept of personal accountability is the only way we will avoid rationed health care services in the future.

3) Tort reform - we cannot afford the defensive medicine tactics necessary to avoid law suits. Nor can we afford the impact of $300 an hour predators masquerading as public benefactors under a system of institutionalized extortion.

4) Stop the technology rush - primary care and prevention services offer the best bang for the buck and should receive most of the dollars. Those seeking higher technology should pay for the option just like those who want a Cadillac pay more than those finding satisfaction with a Ford.

5) All government programs must be properly funded on creation - shifting costs supports system dishonesty that leads to unfulfilled promises and system overload.

6) Consumer driven health care will only work if the consumer has accountability and knowledge - when is the last time you saw a price list in your doctor's office? We can help people help themselves, but making government, bureaucrats, employers, or anyone else responsible for our health care makes us pets - not patients.

7) Get the bureaucrats and fat cats out of the examining room - overregulation limits the number of health care providers we have and what they can do. Licensing boards, government regulators, and professional organizations do more to restrict competition than they ever do to protect consumers. If you doubt it, look at the statistics of people killed by medical errors and prescription meds each year

8) Get serious about Medicare and Medicaid fraud - those wishing a preview of Obamacare need look no further than these two highly abused governmet health care programs. Government enforces the corruption of these programs about as well as they enforce immigration law.

9) Insurance co-ops can help us help one another - most states currently rig insurance pools so that individuals, families, and small businesses cannot find strength and savings in numbers. The current system is another example of how big business and big government look out for big business and big government.

10) Stop the medical mythology game - 80% of the health care needs you and I have can be provided by a nurse or other health service profession requiring 2 years of training versus 10. We all like the idea of our own Marcus Welby, but that day has faded with the milkman. If we would let our system adjust to the realities of 21st century medicine, the protocols and low cost technologies exist to have primary care provided at Wal-Mart and the corner drug store for pennies on the dollar.

In conclusion

Obamacare is another big government lie that will lead to more taxes and eventual disappointments for the very people it is supposedly designed to serve.

Nonetheless, there is a legitimate call to fix our current health care mess. Solutions will not be found in leaving the broken parts in place or selling our liberties for Washington's magic beans.

The key to your health and mine will be found in the flat screen TVs that have so quickly gone from expensive indulgence to affordable convenience.

This is America and we have a history of doing things differently than the rest of the world. One of those differences is allowing the creativity and entrepreneurial spirit of free people to find solutions and make them work. Health care, regardless of the hype and mythology, is no exception. If we can get government, professional organizations, lawyers, and others of self-service out of the way, there are plenty of bright minds to fill the void America's way. We will all be healthier for it.

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