"The welfare of humanity is always the alibi of tyrants" - Albert Camus

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Healthcare Reform So Far: Promises Made, Promises Not Kept

The implementation of the healthcare reform bill that was passed in March has now begun. Unfortunately, it is becoming obvious that the promises made such as: a) you can keep your physician and medical plan if you like them; b) your healthcare costs will go down; c) there will be no healthcare rationing; and d) everyone will be covered simply were not true.

We were fed a steady diet of fear, distraction and falsehoods to sell healthcare reform.

We were told that unless something was done healthcare costs would bankrupt the country

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a report admitting that the actual cost of the healthcare system would be far higher than was initially estimated - a cost of more than 1 trillion dollars

We were told that healthcare premiums would decrease for families

The CBO report estimates that the cost of healthcare premiums would go up by $2100 for the average family next year

We were told that if we liked our health insurance and doctor we could keep them

Thousands of Medicare recipients from Massachusetts to Maine will lose supplemental insurance through Medicare advantage thereby increasing there healthcare costs exponentially.

There will be no healthcare rationing

The choice of Donald Berwick speaks for itself. He is a champion of the British model of socialized one size fits all medicine. It is a broken system that is based on rationing of care that is collapsing under its own weight.

There have also been examples of nascent rationing here in the US. e.g, in Colorado the cancer drug Avastin is not covered by Medicare although it is covered in other states. In addition, the effectiveness of screening tools such as mammograms are being questioned. It is likely that these studies will eventually be used to argue that mammograms are not effective and therefore will not be covered by insurance.

The rising cost of private medical insurance premiums and deductibles in the current economic environment also lead to the rationing of healthcare. This is not surprising since the bill was written by and for the corporate medical cabal (i.e., the medical insurance and pharmaceutical industries, the Hospital Corporation of America and the American Medical Association) that make profit their number one priority instead of the health of our citizens.

By appealing to our lowest common denominator we have been divided and distracted by playing either the fear, race and/or class cards ad nauseam while nothing has been done to control the real reasons for the high costs of healthcare. For example:

Medicare still cannot import cheaper medications that would decrease the healthcare costs of senior citizens.

Those with health savings accounts cannot use their account to buy cheaper over the counter alternatives or nutritional supplements. They can only buy prescription drugs.

Healthcare reform now covers preventative tests, but there has been a movement towards limiting the indications for testing (eg, mammograms to detect breast cancer and PSA to diagnose prostate cancer).

Nothing has been done to stop insurance companies from hoarding profits while systematically raising premiums.

There has been no mention of tort reform.

Why have none of these changes been implemented? Perhaps it is because this is a system that is set up to fail. When people get so fed up with waiting for treatment, or no longer want to put up with being denied care because a decision is made that the costs outweigh the benefits, the government will be ready to step in with the solution of the single payer system. Unfortunately, when that happens medical care in the United States as we know it will be lost forever, and we will be saddled with a system that even the British find untenable.

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