Thursday, January 29, 2009

Are We Really Ready for Socialized Medicine?

Folks may be getting more than they asked for. People paying attention to 30 second sound bites on this subject will allow it to come to fruition. It seems that people can no longer read or at least can not read anything longer than the McDonald or Starbucks menu and be expected to comprehend it. Of course understanding the ingredients in their favorite latte is easier and vastly more enjoyable than understanding what socialized medicine will be like. Some of us older folks can understand a bit about it, at least those who have experienced the Medicare wonderment and general FUBAR(Fouled Up Beyond All Repair for those who were never in the military) made by the Feds out of this ill conceived and rapidly thought up program. The same results will be found in the new socialized medicine that is about to be foisted upon us. It has been talked about and argued for years but without any actual thought of how the thing is suppose to work or how it will be paid for over then next 10 years much less over then next generations to come. I hear the argument for single payer systems from many who actually don’t have a clue or have failed to look at the current singer payer system that is rapidly falling apart.
I see young doctors regularly who run at the thought of going into family practice. I have friends who are doctors and in family practice and are now on the verge of losing all that they have worked for. They can not pay the bills because the program does not work in other words the government doesn’t pay the bills on time if ever. They continue to treat patients while their kids wear hand me downs and their car continually needs repairs. That’s called dedication but dedication will not go very far in feeding and housing their kids. So take time to read this. Yes , it’s a bit long but reading something as important as this will go much further than the 30 second sound bites that you will soon be receiving by way of the boob tube. It pays to be informed!
Just a note concerning an item that is thrown into the so called Stimulus Bill that would give government MORE control over health care and treatment than any other plan other than Hillary’s failed 1990’s plan. The stimulus legislation would create a council for Comparative Effectiveness Research. This is about medicine but not about healing the economy. The CER would identify (this is language from the draft report on the legislation) medical "items, procedures, and interventions" that it deems insufficiently effective or excessively expensive. They "will no longer be prescribed" by federal health programs.
The next secretary of health and human services, Tom Daschle, has advocated a "Federal Health Board" similar to the CER, whose recommendations "would have teeth": Congress could restrict the tax exclusion for private health insurance to "insurance that complies with the Board's recommendation." The CER, which would dramatically advance government control — and rationing — of health care, should be thoroughly debated, not stealthily created in the name of "stimulus."
Talk about raw socialism ! But then coming from someone like Daschle what do you expect.

A Health Care Model For Failure

Socialized Medicine: Anyone who thinks a national single-payer system would be an improvement isn't paying attention. Medicare, which provides coverage for less than 15% of the population, can't get it right.
The federal government seems to always be in a hurry to dole out pork, but it has problems reimbursing doctors who see Medicare patients.
Payments have been so late in some cases that doctors from New York to California have had little choice but to take out loans — some as large as $3 million — to bridge the gap.
The late payments, which can be over $100,000, are only part of the problem for doctors.
In too many instances, the compensation that is eventually provided by Medicare — an amount determined by bureaucrats, not the market, and is therefore subject to error — is simply not enough to cover the physicians' costs.
"When I saw a Medicare patient with pneumonia and they needed a shot that cost $30, and Medicare would reimburse only $21, I gave him the shot," Eugene Wood, a recently retired Jackson physician, told the Mississippi Business Journal last fall.
"I went ahead and practiced good medicine. But I just kept going in the hole."
The trend toward late and below-cost reimbursements creates trouble at two levels.
First, some doctors are cutting back on the number of Medicare patients they see — limiting medical care access for the elderly who rely on Medicare and have paid into it for 40 years or more.
Still others found that they have had to lay off staff and trim their own salaries to continue their practices.
Second, the arrangement kills incentives for medical school students to practice family medicine, which already seems to be a dying art, as only 8% of 2006 U.S. medical school graduates opted for family practices. That's about half the number of graduates who were choosing to go into family practice in the early 1990s.
Making $150,000 a year right out of school might sound like a dream to many, but when doctors owe a year's salary and often more in medical school student loans, their handsome incomes don't look as attractive. A family physician has to be as good a businessman as a doctor if he is to keep his practice above water.
If this is the mess that Medicare is producing, imagine the intractable complications that a universal government system would bring.
Who would want to practice medicine under those conditions? Where will sick Americans go when doctors are fleeing practices and the demand for care under a "free" system outstrips supply?
Medicare and Medicaid, the program for low-income Americans, cover a quarter of the U.S. population and will account for a fourth of federal outlays this year.
No matter how much a Washington player promises that he or she can bring health care costs down through a national system, the numbers say that under a universal program, the entire federal budget will be dedicated to providing health care.
Like it or not — and we don't — Medicare and Medicaid, both established in 1965, have become deeply embedded in the American fabric. They will not go away. The best we can hope for is some sort of reform that lessens the taxpayers' liabilities and increases the responsibility of individuals.
What the country doesn't need is universal care. If universal care is the only alternative, we'd prefer the status quo.
But even that's trouble. Already Medicare's Hospital Insurance is paying out more in benefits than it takes in from tax revenues. By next year, outlays for the entire program will exceed income. The Hospital Insurance Trust Fund will be exhausted by 2019.
System trustees estimate that over the long term, Medicare will have $36 trillion in obligations that aren't funded under the current setup. That, according to analysts at the Heritage Foundation, means "every American household's share of Medicare's unfunded obligation is like a $320,000 IOU."
If Washington can't run a program for 44.1 million people without bankrupting the nation, how can it possibly operate a national health care system for more than 300 million? Think about it!


Anonymous said...

Well, one thing about it, we have no place to go to get what we want. The Canadians are socialised, and the Mexicans are just coming here. Ticker, don't even ask what I'd like to do, 'cause you know the answer. I'm afraid you've known me too long!!!!


Brenda Bowers said...

Since we are broke and the Chinese are financing our "wants" I expect at some point they are going to put a stop to all this spending. Of course at that point they will own us completely and they won't move until that happens. I don't imagine that point is far off.

What I don't understand is that our Congress does not understand this. BB

Jeff Dreibus said...


Adequate health care is one of the most confounding problems of our age.

The current system is neither affordable nor accountable, therefore the people are (foolishly) willing to "give a chance" to a system which has even less chance of being effective simply because the Messiah and his minions have painted it with pretty colors.

I feel unqualified to comment further because I really don't know what the most workable solution to the problem WOULD be. It would probably be multi-faceted and highly complex -- far too involved for a wily politician to comfortably fit into a feel-good sound bite -- and therefore unworthy of consideration.

Jeff Dreibus

Ticker said...

"far too involved for a wily politician to comfortably fit into a feel-good sound bite -- and therefore unworthy of consideration." Jeff D.

Yes Jeff, you have summed it up perfectly . Most people will only digest what they can get in 30 sec soundbites.

Maggie M. Thornton said...

This is one of our biggest worries - at least those of us smart enough to worry. I know two Internists who just left their practices, one to research and one as a hospitalist. Both excellent - but too much peril and liability for almost no pay.

I guess you heard about Tom Daschle's little tax problem today. Poor guy - a donor gave him a car and driver for 4 YEARS and he didn't know he should report it. His accountant just found it.

Mtnrambo said...

I am fortunate to have mostly likely the best healthcare coverage available through my employer, it's extremely expensive ( over $400/week ) but it covers 100% of medical, dental and optical...

My ex-wife is a Doctor... this being said, I think I'm an authority on Doctor's GREED and their pompous " holier than thou " attitude towards those who have insurance and can pay, and those that can't...

My ex and her practice have tried to " stick it " to my insurance many times throughout the years, when my sons would need something, whether it be medical, dental or optical... Fortunately, I have been able to block those payments each time...

It makes you wonder when you get a bill for a procedure that normally would be $150 and they charge $600 because you have good insurance... Especially when your insurance company writes you a letter stating " charge is 75% higher than those customary to your area "...

Also, once they find out you have good insurance, your going for every test imaginable AND they may call their golfing buddy Dr in fro a second opinion or may make a referral !!! Your suddenly the CASH COW !!!

Drs have a CODE so to speak, they treat each others, and usually write the bill off as " professional courtesy "...

Socialized medicine in this country would eliminate 90% of this gouging... Our insurance costs would be more in line and it might knock the Drs attitudes down to our level...

Ticker said...

Rambo, unfortunately there are a few doctors like that but many more are doing what they are trained to do and that is treat sick people. For the most part they are not in the gouging business. Like all business folks , and yes Doctors who are in private practice are business folks are trying to make a living, pay off mountains of bills and keep the doors open. Unfortunately they have the regulations of the Feds hanging around their neck like an albatross and the threat of constant lawsuits made eaiser by more federal regulations.
I see your point , given your experience but again not all are like that.

Mtnrambo said...

Walk in with a health plan like mine... you'll find out different...

Drs in the US shouldn't be immune to malpractice... I was married to one that WILL tell you SHE is GOD...

Anyone can prescribe drugs, you don't need to be a DR... there is a book called a PDR... once read, a cow could prescribe...