Thursday, January 29, 2009

Health Care, Health Cure?

Many people have their opinion about Health care. I have seen too much to know that the answers are not easy. But doing nothing is worse. We are closer to a collapse than you may think. There are two factors involved in causing our Health Care crisis. Overcrowded Emergency Rooms, and the costs associated with Health care. You have no idea how this has affected Emergency care in Los Angeles. But you could find out when you have a Medical Emergency. Wouldn't that be the worst time to find out?

Why are these Emergency Rooms overcrowded? Two reasons. First, consider what has been happening in Los Angeles for the last 20 years. The population has grown exponentially, and yet Emergency rooms have closed down. The biggest blow recently, was the closing of MLK Hospital in Watts, and secondary to that, Daniel Freeman in Inglewood. Second, people without the ability to pay for Doctor visits, wait too long for Medical care, and end up in Emergency Rooms for their treatment. What was a simple case of the flu that could have been taken care of by a Doctor in a Clinic, has now turned into something more serious, and needs a visit to the Emergency Room.

Why does Health Care cost so much? Well, you pay higher costs in Health Care to make up for people who can't pay. How? To simplify things, lets say a Hospital buys a bottle of 100 Asprins for $100. That comes out to $1 per Asprin pill. Just to break even, if 100 patients need 1 Asprin, they will charge you $1. But that's not the way it is. 50 people may pay and 50 people may not. So the Hospital, just to break even, has to charge $2 for a $1 Asprin pill to paying customers. Add trying to make a profit, needing to pay Employees, expensive diagnostic equipment, and other overhead, and you may end up being charged $100 for that $1 Asprin.

What is NOT an option, is to provide Health Care only to people who can pay. No matter how cynical you are, no matter how much you can hate another person, you can not let them suffer and/or die from lack of Medical care. Not in America.

So what is the cure? Some say Universal Health CARE. I don't think that's the answer here. Socializing the Health care system in a Capitalist system may not work. We need to somehow create Universal Health INSURANCE for everyone. It makes sense.

Think of how Auto Insurance works, you pay into a pool of money created to help an individual who needs to pay for damages due to an accident. The individual can not assume the payment of the damages and the liabilities because it costs too much. He ends up paying a reasonable deductable, and his car is repaired and his liabilities are taken care of. How? Everyone pays into the system, whether you get into an accident or not, and more money ends up coming in than going out.

How about Flood Insurance. What if everyone in the Country had to pay Flood Insurance, even if the area you live in will never flood? The answer is, flood insurance will be cheap.

That's what we need for Health care. People pay thousands of dollars in Health Insurance premiums AND in Taxes to support Medicare and State sponsored systems, and pay extra in fees to Hospitals to make up for non-paying patients.

Take all of that money, and funnel it into a Universal Health Insurance system, and you could provide Health Insurnance for all. With everyone having Health Insurance, Hospitals will be paid, and costs will go down. Emergency Rooms may re-open, and Health Clinics may sprout up to take care of non-emergent problems. Believe me, Doctors want to work, but they have to make money, not lose it. Hospitals want to stay open and make money, not lose it. Payment of medical costs is the answer. How we go about it, is the question.

Yes, we will have to make adjustments on how we pay for this insurance. A combination of premiums and taxes, handled by private insurance companies and regulated by the Government. Also getting rid of all the different layers of health care. Payments into the Worker's Comp system can be included as well. Will it work? The current way, whether you think it is or not, is not working. And when the status quo does not work, we need to find another way.

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