Thursday, May 7, 2009


Today some health care executives announced that they will help out the Obama administration by finding their own ways of cutting health care cost increases by 1.5% per year. At least I think that's what was proposed. I tend to agree with Kevin Drum writing for Mother Jones that this may just be a way for the industry to cut off Obama's plan at the pass. Time will tell.

What I'd like to address is the general position that any government plan for universal coverage will result in RATIONING! They trot out Dr. Whoever from Toronto to tell us how the Canadian model can never work because folks will be denied care, or denied the right to pick their own doctor, or denied some damn right that we as Americans sure don't want to give up. Why, our very lives will be at risk because our health care will be rationed. Just to show I'm not making this stuff up, see this site.

The obvious, and first, question one should ask these guys is, what the hell are you smoking? Out here in the real world people are denied care all the time. If you don't have health insurance (remember that 47+ million number?) health care providers can and do say no. But wait a minute, aren't hospital Emergency Rooms required to see you? Well, yes and no. Yes public ERs can't turn away an emergency patient, but they can decide that you aren't suffering from an emergency. More importantly, the greatest need for most people is continuing rather than emergency care. And Emergency Rooms don't offer patients access to specialists except as part of for an emergency. Try getting cancer treatment at the ER.

The rationing theme is also a fairy tale told to scare the public out of supporting any type of universal health care. This assumes that all of the uninsured, and under-insured, will simply march in to their local ER and we, the taxpayers, will have to pick up the tab. Have I got news for them. When the bills start coming from the ER, the doctors, the lab, the radiologist and whomever else stuck their nose behind the curtain that is trying (and failing) to protect your modesty, you'll see that they all expect YOU to pay for that emergency care. Yes, people do blow off medical bills and the expenses are then spread to those that pay, but less then the anti health care reform crowd may think. And then there's the folks with insurance.

You know, the HMO that tells you which doctors you can see. Or more correctly, which doctors they will pay for you to see. Or the health insurance that tells you well after the fact that they won't cover last month's trip to the ER because you didn't get prior 3:00 am...on a Sunday. So now all those bills are yours to pay. And don't forget this month's premium payment.

Of course, you don't have to worry about your insurance company paying for a pre-existing condition. It's just not covered. How many uninsured people do you think are delaying even getting looked at because if the doctors finds something it will NEVER be covered in the future? You hope that your next job will offer health benefits so you best not have that lump looked at now. This stuff happens. This is the real world.

So let's review. If our government offers universal health care to the citizens of our great country then some people will be denied care, some will see certain treatments rationed and some will not be able to choose any doctor that they want. I'm sorry, but I just don't see the difference.

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