|A Physician’s Perspective on The Issues of National Healthcare #12
By Dr. Chuck McGowen
In his syndicated column dated 6-29-09 George Will pointed out some of the reasons for our current predicament regarding healthcare and warned us of the consequences of trying to correct the situation in the way that some of those now in control in Washington seem to prefer. He wisely said “We’ll come to regret the fix for health care.” The alleged fix to which Will refers is those trillions of dollars in expenditures proposed by the Obama administration in the national healthcare bill (H.R. 3200) currently being debated by certain committees in the Congress.
Mr. Will declared the patently obvious when he wrote, “Most Americans want 2009 medicine at 1960 prices.” His statistics tell us that the price tag for healthcare in 1960 was only 5 % of the gross domestic product (GDP) while in 2008 it was an enormous 18% of the GDP. In 1960 the doctor and the patient were in complete control of the dollars spent on the health and well being of Americans, while today it is the Federal Government that has hold of the reins guiding the management of persons on Medicare and Medicaid, while insurance companies manage the care of the rest of our insured citizens. Both the government systems that control Medicare and Medicaid and those of the insurance company’s HMOs are bureaucratic nightmares, but the bureaucracy represented by H.R. 3200 is an HMO on steroids.
George Will rightly observed that automobiles cost more today because of the conveniences of air conditioning, automatic windows, power steering, power controlled seat positions, heated seats, airbags, antilock brakes, FM radios, CD players, GPS devices, etc, etc, etc. Improvements and conveniences cost money and as I have pointed out through the latest articles in this blog spot, the same increased expense also applies to medical care. In 1960 an average family spent 53 percent of its annual income on food, clothing, energy and health care. Today we spend 55 percent of our disposable income on those essentials. However, the piece of the pie consumed by healthcare has risen while the portions utilized by the other three necessary components have fallen.
Will informs us that 76% of Americans are either covered by the government (through VA, Medicare and Medicaid) or their employer while 15 percent, or 47 million are not covered at all; the latter being by choice (one half), illegal aliens or lack of funds. The remaining 9 percent pay for their own health care insurance. He then provides a figure that shocked even me when he noted that “$84 out of every $100 spent on healthcare is spent by someone else (an employer, an insurance company or the government agencies) and only $16 on the recipients of care. That ought to be enough to encourage a return to the free market, consumer driven system where the doctor and the patient exchange all of the dollars spent of the well being of our citizens. Everyone agrees that the current system of healthcare delivery needs to be reformed. The question is how? The logical answer is to return it to the complete control of those who know best; the doctor and the patient. The answer is not found in government bureaucrats who know nothing about the science, the art or the practice of medicine. Over the next several weeks this blog will be devoted to the workable solutions, beginning at the state level
Sunday, August 02, 2009, 06:52 AM