Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Think Health Care Is Expensive Now? Wait Until It's Free


Recently I asked students how much it cost for a doctor visit. “My mother pays fifteen dollars,” said one.

“Fifteen dollars? I asked.

“Yeah,” he said. “That’s what she paid.”

“Okay,” I said, “But is that all it cost?” I pointed out that the average doctor visit costs between $95 and $265.

“She has insurance,” he said, “and they paid the rest. I didn’t know it cost that much.”

Many adult Americans don’t either and that’s our biggest problem with health care reform. I explained that people sometimes have a small “co-pay” and the rest comes from somewhere else. Those with insurance pay monthly premiums whether they get services or not. The poor, and people claiming to be poor, may have a small co-pay, and government uses our tax money to pay more, but it still doesn’t add up to the total cost of the visit - or the surgery, or the therapy, or whatever. To make up the deficit, providers charge patients with insurance more than the cost of their services, products or procedures - that’s why an aspirin can cost $13 at the hospital. Some doctors or dentists won’t take patients who won’t pay themselves or who don’t have insurance, because they can’t afford to make it on what government pays. Hospitals, though, have to take everyone. There’s no such thing as free health care, but more and more consider it their right.

It would be simpler if we all paid out of pocket, and that’s what 90% did before World War II when, according to economist Thomas Sowell, only about 10% of Americans had insurance. When government took over the economy during the war it imposed wage controls, so if a company wanted to woo an employee, it offered health insurance as a fringe benefit. That’s how employer-provided insurance caught on. However, many small businesses still can’t afford to offer it - especially lately. Huge, third-party government bureaucracies, and private ones too, add enormously to the cost of health care.

If we pay $95 or more out of our own pockets for doctor visits, it won’t be for frivolous reasons. We certainly wouldn’t pay $1000 for an emergency room visit unless it were a genuine emergency. However the poor, and those claiming to be poor, pay nothing for a such visits - or for an ambulance to drive them, so they’re much more likely to go for frivolous reasons like hangovers or gas pain, driving up costs enormously. Central Texas hospitals report that 82% of emergency room visits are people on “Medicaid or SCHIP.” According to the Austin American-Statesman:

In the past six years, eight people from Austin and one from Luling racked up 2,678 emergency room visits in Central Texas, costing hospitals, taxpayers and others $3 million, according to a report from a nonprofit made up of hospitals and other providers that care for the uninsured and low-income Central Texans.

If President Obama mentioned anything like this in his big speech to Congress, I didn’t hear it.

Notice I keep saying “or those claiming to be poor”? Many can hide how much they make, appear poor to government, and be eligible for “free” medical care. What percentage of the “poor” are really poor? A minority? A majority? Impossible to say. But we can safely conclude this: If we think health care is expensive now, wait until it’s “free.”

If more go under Obamacare, the deficit between what government pays and the actual cost of the services will also grow, forcing doctors and hospitals to pass along those costs to patients with private insurance - driving up premiums even faster. Then, unbelievably, Obamacare would actually tax those private plans. Don’t believe it? Check out studies by both government agencies like the Congressional Budget office, and private studies like one by PriceWaterhouse Coopers. This is what Democrats call “reform.”

Congress and the White House are determined to impose government-run medicine on Americans in the model of Canada and the UK. Economist Thomas Sowell sheds a little light on what Americans could expect:

In Canada, according to a provincial government website, 90% of Ontario patients needing hip replacements waited 336 days. In Britain, the wait is a year. As for technology, a 2007 study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) showed that the number of CT scanners per million population was 7.5 in Britain, 11.2 in Canada and 32.2 in the United States. For Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) units, there was an average of 5.4 MRIs per million population in Britain, 5.5 per million population in Canada and 26.6 per million population in the United States.

That’s why people in Canada wait about six months for an MRI. Dogs in Canada, however, can get one the next day because government doesn’t control veterinary care.

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

When the question was raised on the nonpartisan debate website Factcheck.org with reference to whether or not health care was better in Canada than in the United States raised a few interesting findings. The first acknowledgment is that while wait times were slightly longer they were surely not as abysmally or commonly as long as made out to be by adversaries of the universal health care. The remainder of the findings prove most interesting, the key amongst them being:

On most measures of patient-reported physician quality, Canadians reported more satisfaction with the quality of their health care than their American counterparts.

The Commonwealth Fund (a nonpartisan private organization dedicated to raising the standards of medical care in industrialized nations) report shows fewer physician errors, lab errors, medication and prescription errors, and duplicate tests in Canada.

According to the World Health Organization, general health is significantly better in Canada; Life expectancy and healthy life expectancy are higher, infant mortality is lower as well as maternal mortality being much lower. Canada reports lower death rates from non-communicable disease, cardiovascular disease, and injury.

On top of these findings, one must also consider the primary talking point used by opponents of universal health care in the United States - the apparent cost. Strikingly enough, the percentage of GDP consumed by health care in Canada, where all residents are universally insured, is 10.7% as opposed to a full 16.3% of GDP being allotted to health care in the United States – the only country in the developed world without universal coverage for it's citizens!



Read more: http://activism.suite101.com/article.cfm/the_benefits_of_universal_socialized_medicine#ixzz0Vtns5AYm




Read more: http://activism.suite101.com/article.cfm/the_benefits_of_universal_socialized_medicine#ixzz0VtnmeOW5

Anonymous said...

"Congress and the White House are determined to impose government-run medicine on Americans in the model of Canada and the UK."

From Fact Check:

We’ve written before about conservatives claiming that Congress, or Obama, or Washington, or Democrats in general want the U.S. to have a Canadian-style, government-run health care system. The truth of the matter is that the president has repeatedly said he doesn’t. In fact, since being sworn in as president, Obama has riled advocates of such single-payer systems by largely excluding them from the health care debate. He has answered several questions from members of the public who asked at town hall events: "why not" have such a system. Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and one of the leaders in drafting legislation, has said bluntly: "single-payer is not going to get even to first base in Congress." Yet, the Canada claims continue.

Tom McLaughlin said...

"Fact Check" should re-check the facts:

Obama to the AFL-CIO in 2003:

“I happen to be a proponent of a universal, single-payer health care plan. I see no reason why the United States of America - the wealthiest country in the history of the world - spending 14% of its GDP on health care, can’t provide basic health insurance for everybody. And that’s what Jim’s talking about - everybody in, nobody out - a single-payer health care plan, a universal health care plan. That’s what I’d like to see. But, as all of you know, we may not get there immediately. Because first we’ve got to take back the White House and we’ve got to take back the Senate, and we’ve got to take back the House.”

Watch it here for yourself:

http://www.breitbart.tv/obama-in-03-id-like-to-see-a-single-payer-health-care-plan/

Obama March 24, 2007:

“But I don’t think we’re going to be able to eliminate employer coverage immediately. There’s going to be potentially some transition process. I can envision a decade out, or fifteen years out, or twenty years out, when we’ve got a much more portable system . . .”

Watch it here for yourself:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZ-6ebku3_E&feature=player_embedded

Your version of fact check is correct so far as repeating what Obama has said since getting elected, but it doesn't match what he's said before. Is he renouncing his previous statements? Is he lying now? It has to be one or the other.

You may trust him. I don't.

Anonymous said...

http://www.calgaryherald.com/Canadians+face+week+wait+surgery+Report/2158443/story.html

Canadians looking to undergo surgery can expect to wait a total of 113 days in 2009, a slight improvement over last year, a national health-care survey has found.

Anonymous said...

The problem with the US adopting a health care plan is that it will be done in pieces and likely in a bad sequence instead of imposing it all at one time and letting it work. And of course letting the beurocrats run it will make it worse and each special interest group will add their two cents worth. They will never get it right because they dont know how.
Otherwise I am all for it.

Irregardless NH said...

Educator McLaughlin wrote:

"so they’re much more likely to go for frivolous reasons like hangovers or gas pain, driving up costs enormously. Central Texas hospitals report that 82 percent of emergency room visits are people on “Medicaid or SCHIP.”

Uh, Tom...if we had single-payer health care in this country, there would be no exorbitant ER costs.

The words "Welfare Queens" fairly oozed off the page of his fantasia.

Anonymous said...

Tom, just wondering why you had no response to these previously posted facts:

"On most measures of patient-reported physician quality, Canadians reported more satisfaction with the quality of their health care than their American counterparts."

"The Commonwealth Fund (a nonpartisan private organization dedicated to raising the standards of medical care in industrialized nations) report shows fewer physician errors, lab errors, medication and prescription errors, and duplicate tests in Canada.

"According to the World Health Organization, general health is significantly better in Canada; Life expectancy and healthy life expectancy are higher, infant mortality is lower as well as maternal mortality being much lower. Canada reports lower death rates from non-communicable disease, cardiovascular disease, and injury."

"On top of these findings, one must also consider the primary talking point used by opponents of universal health care in the United States - the apparent cost. Strikingly enough, the percentage of GDP consumed by health care in Canada, where all residents are universally insured, is 10.7% as opposed to a full 16.3% of GDP being allotted to health care in the United States – the only country in the developed world without universal coverage for it's citizens!"

Anonymous said...

"just wondering why you had no response to these previously posted facts:"

What facts? Please give URL of your source.

Here's a fact - our wait times in Canada for surgery are down to 113 days.

That's satisfied? Oh waiting times for H1N1 shots are 3-6 hours in line.

-tomax7

Anonymous said...

"What facts? Please give URL of your source."


tomax, the source was already given on the original posting - try and pay attention.

Anonymous said...

Hmmmm, STILL no response to these facts. Intersesting. lol



"On most measures of patient-reported physician quality, Canadians reported more satisfaction with the quality of their health care than their American counterparts."

"The Commonwealth Fund (a nonpartisan private organization dedicated to raising the standards of medical care in industrialized nations) report shows fewer physician errors, lab errors, medication and prescription errors, and duplicate tests in Canada.

"According to the World Health Organization, general health is significantly better in Canada; Life expectancy and healthy life expectancy are higher, infant mortality is lower as well as maternal mortality being much lower. Canada reports lower death rates from non-communicable disease, cardiovascular disease, and injury."

"On top of these findings, one must also consider the primary talking point used by opponents of universal health care in the United States - the apparent cost.

Strikingly enough, the percentage of GDP consumed by health care in Canada, where all residents are universally insured, is 10.7% as opposed to a full 16.3% of GDP being allotted to health care in the United States – the only country in the developed world without universal coverage for it's citizens!"

Anonymous said...

Anon: "tomax, the source was already given on the original posting - try and pay attention."

Dear Anon, quoting 3rd party activism blogs are not a source.

Besides Suite101 is in Vancouver, which kinda indicates the wonderland it is leaning towards.

Anonymous said...

Do some research - if you find anything that refutes the posted facts let me know!

Anonymous said...

I did.

http://www.calgaryherald.com/Canadians+face+week+wait+surgery+Report/2158443/story.html

But the Fraser Institute — which advocates the establishment of a parallel private health-care system, rather than increased funding for the public system — used the report to argue that Canada's health-care system remains "fundamentally broken."

"In spite of large increases in health spending, Canadians are waiting 73 per cent longer for surgery than they did in 1993," said Nadeem Esmail, author of the report and a director with the right-wing think-tank.

Steve said...

suite101 posts this about Nicholas Morine, who wrote the article, is described as, "freelance writer and journalist...His areas of expertise include fashion, literature, politics, sociology, philosophy, creative writing (fiction and non-fiction), music, photography, retail and commissioned sales, and video games."

Where are the medical credentials?

Can anyone find any info on suite101 that wasn't written by suite101? Seems fishy to me.

Anonymous said...

STILL no refuting of these facts!

"On most measures of patient-reported physician quality, Canadians reported more satisfaction with the quality of their health care than their American counterparts."

"The Commonwealth Fund (a nonpartisan private organization dedicated to raising the standards of medical care in industrialized nations) report shows fewer physician errors, lab errors, medication and prescription errors, and duplicate tests in Canada.

"According to the World Health Organization, general health is significantly better in Canada; Life expectancy and healthy life expectancy are higher, infant mortality is lower as well as maternal mortality being much lower. Canada reports lower death rates from non-communicable disease, cardiovascular disease, and injury."

"On top of these findings, one must also consider the primary talking point used by opponents of universal health care in the United States - the apparent cost.

Strikingly enough, the percentage of GDP consumed by health care in Canada, where all residents are universally insured, is 10.7% as opposed to a full 16.3% of GDP being allotted to health care in the United States – the only country in the developed world without universal coverage for it's citizens!"

Anonymous said...

Still Facts Anon (please give your name or handle):

Fact Disproved

1. RE: The Commonwealth Fund...
(Please give URL and date of the article from Commonwealth Fund you reference).

What I see from their site:

"The findings, published today in a Health Affairs article, point to widespread error, inefficiency, and missed opportunities in the health systems of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the U.S."

Another Quote from their site:

"Although Canada's national health care system does not provide outpatient prescription drug coverage, Canadian provincial governments have developed a range of plans that have historically provided generous coverage to seniors. Yet, ongoing spending increases and costsharing requirements are threatening the public drug subsidies. A new study supported by The Commonwealth Fund suggests that the Canadian experience underscores the need for comprehensive management and political will to confront spiraling drug costs.

----------------
http://www.commonwealthfund.org/Content/Publications/In-the-Literature/2009/Nov/A-Survey-of-Primary-Care-Physicians.aspx

Jan 2009
Twenty-eight percent of U.S. physicians reported their patients often face long waits to see a specialist, one of the lowest rates in the survey. Three-quarters of Canadian and Italian physicians reported long waits.

Jsan 2009: "A survey of 6,536 physicians in seven countries finds that adoption of health information technology (IT) is highly variable, with the United States lagging well behind other countries"

US: 17 points
Canada: 23 points.
US 2006: 28 points.

Anonymous said...

See, by what you judged, you are judged.

forgot to put my name after the previous post to Facts Anon.

-tomax7

Anonymous said...

Still not one of the previous facts disproved!

lol

Steve said...

Annon - Take off your blinders and answer the questions posed to you.
1. Use a name/handle.
2. State where you got all these 'facts.' Using Suite101 as your source is like me using Wikipedia and claiming outrageous facts.
Surely for someone who is so exasperated by the lack of answers to these claims that Canada has better healthcare you could probably post more than one reliable website to back up these strong claims...or are you so used to be spoon feed by your Government that you can't do anything for yourself?

Anonymous said...

Here is The World Health Organization's ranking
of the world's health systems. You are right, Canada did not fare so well coming in at number 30. The thing is, the USA placed 39th!

http://www.photius.com/rankings/healthranks.html

The following will give you the GDP info:

http://www.angelfire.com/rnb//y/universal.htm

...and factcheck.org will give you the following:

However, on most measures of patient-reported physician quality, Canada comes out slightly ahead of the U.S. The Commonwealth Fund report shows somewhat fewer reported physician errors, lab errors, medication errors and duplicate tests north of the border, and Canadians report more satisfaction with their doctors. General health is also better up north, according to the World Health Organization: Life expectancy and healthy life expectancy are both higher in Canada; infant mortality is lower, and maternal mortality is significantly lower. There are fewer deaths from non-communicable diseases, cardiovascular diseases and injuries in Canada, though marginally more deaths from cancer. It's not clear how much of the divergence is attributable to medical care, rather than other standard-of-living differences between the two countries. (For instance, according to the United Nations' Human Development Index, Canada has a much higher school enrollment rate than the U.S., though it also has a lower GDP per capita.) But these statistics simply don't support the notion that universal, single-payer health care is crippling the health of Canadian citizens compared with that of U.S. citizens.

Both countries, however, score low on health measures compared with other industrialized nations. In the Commonwealth Fund’s overall ranking of health system performance, Canada came in fifth and the U.S. came in sixth, out of six countries. On the other hand, the WHO's 2000 World Health Report gave Canada a slightly better review, ranking it 30th for overall health system performance – above three of the other countries from the Commonwealth study (Australia, New Zealand and the U.S.) but below the other two (the U.K. and Germany). All of these countries, except the U.S., have publicly funded health care, as does every major country in the WHO's top ten.


NOW can you disprove these facts?

Anonymous said...

CALGARY — Canadians are receiving psychiatric treatment faster in 2009 than they did in 2008, according to research published by the Fraser Institute.

The national median wait time for Canadians seeking psychiatric treatment fell nearly two weeks, to 16.8 weeks in 2009 from 18.6 weeks in 2008, the lowest figures since the Canadian think-tank launched its annual psychiatry waiting list survey in 2003.

- need more facts?

Anonymous said...

Alberta health superboard hopes buyouts, vacancies will help reduce layoffs

CALGARY - The province’s medical superboard said Tuesday it could buy out as many as 550 jobs and not fill another 660 vacancies as part of an initative to save cash.

Alberta Health Services said a total of 550 people have expressed interest in its voluntary exit program so far, although the buyouts have not yet been approved.

Employees interested in the buyouts largely include management as well as members of the Health Sciences Association of Alberta, which represents professions like dietitians and lab workers.

- need more facts?

It is not true that it is not front line staff that is being cut or unfilled. My department (front line workers) has at least 5 unfilled positions. Also, it is not the higher up management that is being cut. It is the lower management positions who provide direct support to front-line workers. This means that the front line workers take on more administrative tasks. AHS should cut its higher-ups and their big bonuses to save money.

Welcome to longer wait times Alberta! If you don't like it, demand an actual break-down of positions by the superboard
- worker bee.

Anonymous said...

From Yesterday's Boston Globe:

PART 1

Health reform’s conservative roots
By Rich Barlow
November 18, 2009

TALK RADIO is in a lather over “socialized’’ medicine. So are Republican leaders. Protesting the percolating reforms in Congress, House Republicans recently sponsored a rally at which some held signs decrying “National Socialist Healthcare.’’ Some conservatives even insist that mandatory health insurance envisioned in the congressional bills would be unconstitutional.
Time for a history lesson: Mandatory national health insurance was invented by an anti-socialist conservative in Germany during the laissez-faire Gilded Age.
In 1883, Otto von Bismarck instituted the world’s first compulsory health care scheme, requiring workers to get insurance from private carriers through their employers, paid for by a payroll tax. Sound familiar? The similarities between the Iron Chancellor’s vision and the broad outlines of the proposals in Congress - and, indeed, our current employer-based system of health care - offer valuable lessons.
Bismarck was Fox News’s kind of guy. He loathed socialism, to the point of banning socialist meetings and literature distribution. His social reforms, including mandatory health insurance, were meant to deflect socialism, not enact it.
Bismarck harbored the conservative notion of government’s limited role, providing a safety net for the needy. “The actual complaint of the worker,’’ he said, “is the insecurity of his existence; he is unsure if he will always have work, he is unsure if he will always be healthy and he can predict that he will reach old age and be unable to work.’’ He stiff-armed those who confused concern for such people with socialism. “Call it socialism or whatever you like,’’ he said.
Would a German-style system work here? Whether it’s constitutional to require that all Americans have health insurance may have to be thrashed out in court.

Anonymous said...

Globe article

Part 2

Philosophically, though, the libertarian argument - in a free country, we shouldn’t force people to buy something they don’t want - deserves a two-word Bismarckian retort: national security.According to the Kaiser Foundation’s Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured, people without insurance are less likely to get preventive care than the insured and “are more likely to be hospitalized for avoidable health problems and experience declines in their overall health.’’ If many Americans were sickened by terrorist tampering with, say, our water supply, we’d all agree that protecting them from that preventable attack was a matter of national security. Protecting them from preventable illness, and its potentially ruinous financial consequences, is as well.
2009 isn’t 1883, of course. Bismarck’s law mandated coverage only for certain low-income workers. Today, with expanded coverage, Germany wrestles with escalating health care costs - as do we and all industrialized nations, including those with single-payer systems so beloved by liberals. That’s an argument for pursuing cost controls that the current bills don’t include. It’s not a good argument for inaction.
Our reform may include a public plan to compete with private ones - a bane to many conservatives. But even the Democratic House could muster votes only for a neutered public option. It’s possible, as Cornell economist Robert Frank argues, that passing reform will bring the conservative, and valid, ideal of price-cutting competition to American health care. Frank reasons that insuring millions of additional people will only ratchet up the pressure to curb costs by emulating the United States’ most efficient health care providers, like the Mayo Clinic - plans that operate their own hospitals and put doctors on salary, rather than pay them for every test and procedure they order, regardless of medical value.
Indeed, one major difference between German health care and our system, including the reform proposals, is that their insurers, while private, are non-profit. Germans are happy with their system, and why not? Care is excellent, while premiums and administrative costs are well below ours. German doctors do complain about being underpaid. Still, they’re making a solid middle-class living, as a report on “Frontline’’ about different health care systems noted earlier this year.
The health care reforms before Congress aren’t perfect. But they clearly aren’t socialist. Conservatives who insist otherwise share something with liberals who insist that only single-payer systems can work. Both should have stayed awake during high school history class.

Nicholas said...

As the author of the initial article referenced here, I would encourage those that are still unconvinced of the superiority of single-payer medical insurance to check the same sources I used for my article.

Unfortunately, Americans are far behind on health-care, as well as other issues of social justice. When visiting Maine, I was dumbfounded by the actual existence of a "Health Care Mall".

There's a reason, as I said in my article, that the United States is the only developed country in the world that has failed to adopt universal health care.

Cut out the middleman. Single payer works, else the rest of the world would not be so shocked by your refusal to adapt to modernity.