Thursday, August 6, 2009

Thoughts on Health Care Reform by Larry Stopper

Every day on NPR we hear stories on the questions surrounding health care. Politicians debate it and health policy experts try to decipher for us what the politicians are doing in their committees. I must admit to being painfully frustrated by much of what I hear on the radio and see in ads on TV. It’s time for citizens to raise their voices in the health care debate.

How many times have you heard in the last few weeks about the problem of putting a government bureaucrat between you and your doctor? I get so angry at this supposed problem that my wife has to ask me to stop shouting. Right now every one of us who pays for our own insurance knows full well that we have an insurance bureaucrat between us and our doctor, and their sole purpose is to help make a profit for their company, not keep us healthy.

When my wife left her state job we were forced to purchase our own health insurance. We shopped around and chose a policy with a high deductible, and a reasonably modest monthly premium. One year later, with no claims against our insurance that reached beyond the deductible, our monthly premium was raised by 37%. With no explanation from our insurance company as to why our premium was being raised, we were left to surmise that our sin, in their eyes, was that we were growing older.

Would I be willing to pay the money I send my insurance company to the government as increased taxes to get a health care system where my well being was the primary concern – no question, yes. I would happily join a government run program where the bottom line was health and not the size of the CEO’s bonus. I don’t really care about his boat payment.

How about the other big threat out there – health care rationing. What baloney. We have that right now and everyone who pays for their own insurance knows it. When my insurance company denied my doctors request for an MRI on my injured shoulder what recourse did I have? I could have appealed or even sued – but who has the time or money for that? And if I won and forced the insurance company to pay, we all know that at the next renewal, they would have dropped me like a hot potato. I would have been off searching for another insurance company to take me, and they would not have covered my shoulder because it was a pre-existing condition.

I try to watch the senators on the Sunday morning programs debate health care, but it’s beyond frustrating. Every one of them has a gold plated insurance plan and has nothing to worry about. The drug and insurance companies make huge campaign contributions to make sure that senators like our own Webb and Warner defend the current for profit system and maintain the status quo.

Government run health care is not a panacea, but it works. Look at Medicaid. It’s a huge, government run health system and it does a fine job. Is it perfect – no. Could it be better – of course. But is it a better system for so many of us who don’t have employer based health care – you bet. What we need is a health system that puts health and prevention before profits, and cares about people and not the insurance company’s bottom line.

1 comment:

  1. Martha. Larry Stopper's essay this morning on health care was absolutely terrific...he succinctly stated the issues and dealt with all the negative hype that is being promoted by the insurance/drug companies and those who have bought their lines. I wish the essay could have a wider audience than those who listen to WMRA; at the minimum, land on the desks of Virginia's congressmen and senators. all the best, Jerry Handler



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