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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thoughts upon watching author T.R. Reid on C-Span this morning



That segment lasted close to 45 minutes on Washington Journal this morning was certainly thought provoking. Health care was the hot debate starting in the summer and it's still hotly debate as the US Senate is to take on this subject after the House of Representatives passed a bill in an historical vote close to two weeks ago.

I've come to my own conclusions regarding health-care based on merely my own needs and perhaps something that is generally accepted. My own need is that I have no problem paying out of pocket for a check-up. That is I should be able to spend my money to go to a regular physician, dentist, or optometrist. Another thing that is generally accepted by the public at large or experts is that we need to find a way to lower costs in the health care system.

In general, I'm opposed to universal health care or the public option or even any kind of plan that involves government paying for health care. But it's not too hard to disagree with T.R. Reid in his new bookThe Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper and Fairer Health Care, about health care to say that perhaps the American system of health care is disjointed.

See we operate mainly on a system of private health care similar to what may exist in France in Germany. We also operate a system similar to that which exist in Cuba or United Kingdom (UK). We also operate a system that exist in Canada. Finally we also have a system similar to what exists in third-world nations such as India.

What does this all mean? Well France and Germany mainly have a system of private healthcare or insurance. In Cuba or UK the system is primarily provided by the government and you get no bill, with that in mind you would have to be a veteran to have that type of system.

If you're 65 and older and you get Medicare then you have a system similar to what you get in Canada. That is there are private hospitals, but the government provides the insurance. So apparently while there are those who want the Canadian healthcare system replicated here, it already does just for the elderly. The difference is that there are those who want that for everybody.

Finally if you can only utilize a public hospital for care or otherwise have to pay out of pocket for care then you have a system similar to what exists in a nation such as India, which is considered a developing nation. It may well determine the type of care you recieve which is whether or not you can pay. If you are poor and you can't afford the care, then there's a good chance you'll go without.

In watching that portion of Washington Journal with T.R. Reid, well I came to a conclusion. I'm not certain it's his, but I should beg the question. Perhaps our system isn't working very well because it's so disjointed. Perhaps instead of one health care system we have four or we have 50. Every state has their own regulation for health care. This could be a reason why health care for many is so expensive, and you have callers to C-Span this morning talking about their experiences with health insurance.

That is some patients have lost their health insurance. Insurance companies sit on critical paperwork that causes some patients to not receive their necessary treatment. Or even the often stated refrain that some patients have died or suffered needlessly because they couldn't afford to get treatment earlier for their symptoms.

I know I said a mouthful, but this morning T.R. Reid talked about those things and there were other issues at play. Such as lowering costs by reducing tuition for medical school. It seems like a bit of an economics problem when you think about it. How does reducing the cost of a medical education for aspiring doctors contribute to the cost of healthcare?

Either way at the very least while Reid doesn't rule out universal health care. What he seeks is a solution that is more affordable. It could be a government provided universal health care system or a mostly private insurance system. He suggested Japan as an example of a good private insurance system with the main idea being that prices are very low there.

Reid suggests that we should consider taking the best ideas from around the world to make a better system here. It may not be smart to hold steadfast to oppose any health care reform because of the fears of any type of government takeover of health care. But what is necessary is to know that there are problems with the system as it exists currently. What is prudent here is to take the best ideas from those places that have provided health care in the best way.

Besides in Reid's book, he dedicated it to President Eisenhower. Eisenhower, who was a five-star Army General during the Second World War, saw the the system of highways (autobahn) built by the Germans. The Germans provided a template for the Interstate highway system that was built in earnest during the Eisenhower administration. Reid's purpose he says was defensive. To deflect criticism onto him that him using other health care systems around the world is somehow "un-American". At the same time the Interstate highway system wasn't entirely an American invention.

Finally, I have no problem with the idea of health care as a commodity. It seems the emphasis with T. R. Reid was to remove profit and I don't necessarily agree with that. Besides the best doctors should be rewarded if they do the best job for their patients. What I don't disagree with is that there has to be ways to lower costs and make the cost of health care more affordable for the patients.

I would recommend his book, but I have to buy it and read it first. Before rejecting any of his arguments I would like to give them some though and attempt to get some understanding of some of the world's health care systems. Reid does say that members of Congress are reading his book, but he says that his book has NO policy impact. And that's reflected in the health care bills that are currently under debate in Congress currently.

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