Mugged by Reality, Health Care Edition

Cross-posted from State House Call.

By King Banaian

Growing up is hard to do, but Wendy Button does it well:

In the past, I paid attention to the health care debate as a speechwriter who prepared speeches, talking points, op-eds, and debate prep material on the topic at different times for John Edwards, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and others. Now, I’m paying attention because I’m a citizen up the creek without a paddle.

Throughout my life, I have been very lucky because my insurance has always been there whenever I had a crisis. When my 10-speed hit a patch of leftover winter sand, and I went flying into a telephone pole, it covered the x-rays and stitches and concussion diagnosis. When a half a ton of sheet rock fell on me, my insurance paid for the cast on my foot. When my depression kicked in and I was hospitalized and painting ceramic pieces in art therapy to boost my self-esteem (sheesh), it made sure that when I got home my medical bills didn’t make me reach for a razor. And when there were growths in my uterus, it covered that medical procedure and every regular check-up, lab test, broken bone, sports injury, and antibiotic prescription in between.

Since I care more about my country than my personal pride, here’s how I lost my insurance: I moved. That’s right, I moved from Washington, D.C., back to Massachusetts, a state with universal health care.

In D.C., I had a policy with a national company, an HMO, and surprisingly I was very happy with it. I had a fantastic primary care doctor at Georgetown University Hospital. As a self-employed writer, my premium was $225 a month, plus $10 for a dental discount.

In Massachusetts, the cost for a similar plan is around $550, give or take a few dollars. My risk factors haven’t changed. I didn’t stop writing and become a stunt double. I don’t smoke. I drink a little and every once in a while a little more than I should. I have a Newfoundland dog. I am only 41. There has been no change in the way I live my life except my zip code — to a state with universal health care.

Massachusetts has enacted many of the necessary reforms being talked about in Washington. There is a mandate for all residents to get insurance, a law to prevent insurance companies from denying coverage because of a pre-existing condition, an automatic enrollment requirement, and insurance companies are no longer allowed to cap coverage or drop people when they get sick because they forgot to include a sprained ankle back in 1989 on their application.

…What makes this a double blow is that my experience contradicts so much of what I wrote for political leaders over the last decade. That’s a terrible feeling, too. I typed line after line that said everything Massachusetts did would make health insurance more affordable. If I had a dollar for every time I typed, “universal coverage will lower premiums,” I could pay for my own health care at Massachusetts’s rates.

My hat’s off to you, young lady. I hope you have a good employer, because you just painted a target on yourself.

(First posted at SCSU Scholars)

Advertisements

What Canadians Want You To Know About Their Health Care System

As America moves closer to a government-controlled health care system, anxious Canadians want to set the record straight about life under their country’s “universal” system.

Join the Mackinac Center as it journeys across Canada, documenting harrowing stories from real Canadians of long waits, physician shortages, doctor lotteries, special treatment for insiders and being forced to travel abroad for basic medical care.

Check it out!!!

More Docs Against ObamaCare

Cross-posted from State House Call.

By John LaPlante

Though President Obama may not do a good job vetting his cabinet picks, he did bring a hand-picked group of doctors to the White House to support his health reform ideas.

The Heritage Foundation says “I’ll call your doctors and raise you three former AMA presidents.”

Government Money, Government Menu

Cross-posted from State House Call.

By John LaPlante

Parents routinely struggle to get their children to eat veggies. Now it looks like government is going on an “eat your veggies” mission as well.

The Arizona Republic reports that the WIC program (free food for women and children) will now make sure that some of the money its recipients spend on food can’t be spent on anything but fruits and vegetables. WIC is also going after whole milk.

Arizona’s chief of the Department of Health Services thinks that this is all too the good, and that it ought to be applied to the food stamp program, too: “We really have the opportunity to transform the way people eat.”

I would raise all sorts of civil liberties objections. Then again, if you’re eating from the government table, can you complain much about what is served?

Beware of “free” health care. The same logic applies.

One in Six NHS Patients Misdiagnosed?

Although the actual numbers are underreported, it’s now believed that up to one in six patients are being misdiagnosed under Britain’s government-run National Health Service.

While in most cases the misdiagnosis did not result in the patient suffering serious harm, a sizeable number of the millions of NHS patients were likely to suffer significant health problems as a result, according to figures. It was said that the number of misdiagnoses was “just the tip of the iceberg”, with many people still reluctant to report mistakes by their doctors.

Earlier this year, the Healthcare Commission found that missed or wrong diagnoses were a major cause of complaints to the NHS. Of more than 9,000 complaints analysed, almost one in 10 related to a delay in diagnosis or the wrong diagnosis being made. Separate research also suggested that one in 10 patients in hospital was harmed because of the care they received.

The medical director of Britain’s National Patient Safety Agency says these “missed or inaccurate” diagnoses account for 2/3 of complaints against GPs and are most commonly a result of a lack of training, misinterpreted test results and poor communication in addition to the diagnostic mistakes that can occur when two diseases have similar symptoms.

Looking for reform? Don’t look to BCBS-MI

A letter to the Detroit News challenges the opinion that Michigan’s model of relying on nonprofit insurance provider Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is one for the country to replicate.

Under Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan’s control, competition and innovative cost-savings models are squashed. But Blue Cross and hospitals prosper while families, businesses and individuals suffer.

Blue Cross’ 2008 revenues were in excess of $21 billion. The nearest competing health care plan generated only $1.6 billion in revenue. Blue Cross has little competition in Michigan.

This is the case in many states that the President claims have insufficient competition – the top insurer’s status as a near-monopolist for health insurance in the state is largely thanks to government policies that make it easier for it to function at a lower cost than its competitors.

No wonder so many Americans are wary of a public option.

New Info on the Cost of Obamacare

The Pelican Institute, a Louisiana-based think tank, released a report yesterday (PDF) on the economic costs of federal health care reforms in their state.

From the press release:

The report was produced by Arduin, Laffer & Moore Econometrics, the research firm of internationally renowned economist Dr. Arthur Laffer. It models the general concepts included in the health care reform proposals by President Obama and the congressional leadership.

The end results of the proposed reforms would include: an increase in national health care expenditures by an additional 8.9 percent by 2019; an increase in medical price inflation by 5.2 percent above what it would have been otherwise by 2019; an increase in total federal expenditures by 5.6 percent over the next decade, creating an additional $285.6 billion deficit in 2019 assuming the extra expenditures are not financed by a tax increase; and a reduction in U.S. economic growth in 2019 by 4.9 percent.

As more information becomes available about the specific costs to each state, it’s likely we’ll see even sympathetic state legislators give reforms a second thought – especially in states with economic problems like those in Michigan.