My first attempt to write an editorial in graduate school focused on health care. I remember making the statement, “I feel like I’ve been branded, like I‘m a part of a herd of cattle.” I was making reference to the doctor-patient relationship. Since then, it seems, that relationship has become even more difficult to sustain.
Not so long ago, a lawyer made a comment to me. She said, “There are two things you need in life. One is a good doctor. The other is a good attorney.” It’s true, too.
Trying to find a good doctor is not so easy and trying to find a way to cover the expenses that your medical insurance does not cover is even more difficult. I could make a list of issues facing healthcare, but I won’t. Other people are doing it for us.
At the eye doctor the other day, I met a man who sells individual health insurance policies. We debated the costs of such plans. I stated, “I like the idea of an individualized health care plan, but I have never been able to afford one. And, if I am able to, the limits and deductibles are of little value to me.”
A few minutes into our conversation, he stumbled over answering a direct question of how much one policy costs. “There are different variables to consider,” he said.
I explained that my homeowner’s insurance costs much less than medical insurance and a house is usually the most expensive thing you purchase. His response to me, “If your roof goes out, it only cost a few thousand to repair. If something serious happens medically, one visit could cost up to $50,000 or more.”
There is much going on in Washington regarding health care reform. Representative Jan Schakowsky, from the 9th district of Illinois, reports “there are some encouraging signs, that key members of the House and Senate have voiced their support for a public health insurance option–crucial to lowering costs and covering everyone. And just last week, President Obama strongly backed the plan.”
She states this progress creates a new risk and that opponents of reform know that a public health insurance option is likely to be part of the final bill.
She believes opponents will try to weaken it as much as possible.
“We’ll only get one shot at health care reform, and we need it to be the best possible plan. So members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus like me are fighting back by drawing a clear line in the sand: We will only support a bill if it includes a strong public health insurance option,” Schakowsky said. “Strong means that it is run by the federal government, helps cover all of us, and comes into effect as soon as possible.”
Schakowsky’s most recent press release states a strong public option is key to achieving health care and lowering costs. Benefits she proposes include:
1.)Relief to small businesses and families. The public health insurance plan will drive costs down across the board, helping everyone who is struggling in this economy.
2.)Give Americans a choice. So many Americans don’t like their private insurance—or don’t have it at all. With this plan, they’d be able to choose a plan that’s not run by insurance companies. But if they’re happy with their current coverage, they can keep it.
3.)Make universal health care a reality. The public health insurance option will be available to everyone, regardless of job status or pre-existing conditions.
On June 9, U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, of Maryland, presented a speech on health care reform to the members of the Senate. During that speech, he stated, “The parameters under which this Senate is addressing health care is a prescription for disaster.”
It’s a poignant statement considering the quotes that John Hart, Communications Director for Senator Coburn, reported from the floor during Senator Coburn’s speech:
“Health care is about people. It’s not about an insurance company, and it’s not about your employer. And it’s certainly not about the government. It’s about you. And if it’s about you, you ought to be in control.”“We’re not a bunch of cattle lining up in the chute. Everybody’s different. Everybody needs to be able to make their own decision. And on top of that, the number-one thing we have to do is protect the doctor-patient relationship.”
“We have before us in the HELP committee a draft of a bill that has three big blanks on it … We have no knowledge about what it costs. And we’re going to be marking that up. And we’re supposed to get health care done in six weeks … and we’re going to do it without knowing what we’re doing.”
To top it off, the American Medical Association, the largest physician organization in America, has voiced opposition to the ObamaCare health plan. There’s fear that without private insurance the quality of healthcare will demise.
Or, is it that the quality of some patient’s healthcare will demise?
I believe some people already have what would be considered “a lower standard of care” that is feared in the proposed “socialized” system. I have never heard anyone on state insurance talk about how great it was. I have heard how grateful they were to have it and to not have to pay for it. I have, at times, even envied it as it cost me so much more for a similar visit. How fair is that?
There are those who do not go to the doctor for fear of the costs. There are others without a dime or care, who go immediately to the state funded hospital without worry about any of it. With the challenges these issues bring to the forefront, one clear cut resolution is not so simple.
Highlighting health care reform issues coming up for debate is The New York Times, who published an article, which can be found at this link: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/11/us/politics/11health.html
As I consider the struggle that has been consuming the House and Senate for the last few months, I think of a suggestion James Lansberry, president of the Alliance of Health Care Sharing Ministries, recently emailed. It’s something called Shared Care.
In this system, we would go to church and rely on each other for health services rather than health institutions. We would commit to living a healthy life and avoiding unnecessary risks, such as sex before marriage.
As he states, “Essentially the way Shared Care works is that people of Faith and embracing traditional values, agree to live their lives in ‘low risk’ fashion, meaning not engaging in dangerous lifestyles of sexual promiscuity, etc., and to attend church at least twice a month. Remarkably when the criterion is met, the vector of healthcare expense plummets, allowing each member to help meet the needs of others, thus the phrase: Shared Care.”
Well, it’s something to consider.