Posted by: goalpath | September 15, 2009

Why Healthcare Reform is Good for America and Good for American Business

The debate has gotten hot and heavy in the last few weeks and I am amazed at the misinformation that is being disseminated by the shouters and disrupters at the Town Hall meetings across the country. I realize there are a lot of legitimate beefs with healthcare reform. You certainly have a right for your voices to heard. Just like you guys, I want my voice to be heard. But, I am not interested in shouting down my Congressional Representative or my Senator. My political views not withstanding, I am most interested in what is best for America and American Business.

First, let me say, that I have health insurance and I am satisfied with my coverage and my provider. I can go to the doctor of my choice for a small co-pay and get my prescriptions filled for a small co-pay. Being an old guy, and a very active one at that, I feel very fortunate to have this insurance. In the last year or so, I have had my knee scoped, my cholesterol checked, my wrist operated on, and several other examinations and consultations. I have been seen by my family doctor, my cardiologist, my orthopedist, and an endocrinologist. 

I can understand why a lot of you guys are skeptical of the government becoming more involved in our healthcare. Based on the government’s ability to manage other areas of our lives, you have good reason to be skeptical. Given the fact that the U.S. government has mismanaged numerous projects and contracts over the years from defense to building bridges to nowhere, it stands to reason that you should be concerned about them getting involved in the healthcare business.

That said, I would remind you that the government has been running Medicare for the past forty five years. And they have done a pretty good job with Medicare. Ask any senior if they would give up their Medicare coverage and I am quite confident you wouldn’t find any takers.  Is it perfect? Not really, but it is better than a number of private plans. So what does Medicare have to do with healthcare reform? It demonstrates that the government can manage a healthcare program and do it well for the long term. It also dispels a number of myths that many of the dissenters have raised about government run healthcare.

With Medicare you can choose your doctor.  Yes, there are small percentage of doctors who don’t participate, but most do. Medicare pays for your prescriptions. Medicare will take you regardless of pre-existing conditions. There are no death panels determining who gets to live and who doesn’t. Most private insurance providers want you to convert to Medicare when you turn 65. The older you get the more healthcare you require and the more it would cost those private providers. Medicare doesn’t ration treatments or procedures. Medicare doesn’t require that you drop your current plan when you turn 65, if you are satisfied with your coverage.

Current private healthcare is responsible for a lot of waste and inefficiencies.  There are many physicians that will recommend tests and procedures that you might not necessarily need just to protect themselves from potential medical malpractice suits. As long as the costs of these procedures and tests fall within provider guidelines, the private providers pay for them with no questions asked. So litigation definitely is a factor in rising healthcare costs. The lack of online universal record keeping systems translates into redundant tests, missed diagnoses, prescription interactions and lots of other problems that result because those practitioners don’t have access to your complete medical history. Private providers don’t encourage or pay for preventative procedures in most cases. That raises healthcare costs as well.  

 AARP has come out in favor of healthcare reform. Obviously, they want to see the final bill before they endorse it, but they know that the system is broken and needs fixing. They also know that Medicare has been good for Americans and will cost taxpayers less if people received better healthcare before they turn 65. Can the government fix healthcare without putting our great grand children in debt? I certainly hope so. Cost will be a concern, but I believe they can accomplish this through better efficiencies and preventative care. Plus, if there is a public option, that will cause the current providers to become more efficient, put more pressure on the drug companies to be more realistic in their pricing, and in turn make private sector healthcare more affordable. That will be a win/win for everyone concerned.

I would also like to point out, that one of the reasons American businesses have not been able to compete with their foreign competitors is partially the result of skyrocketing healthcare costs they are paying to keep their workers insured. In fact, that is certainly one of the problems our automakers have had to deal with for the last couple of decades. Add to that, the rise in litigation in America relating to corporate, product and service liability and you can see why American business has lost its competitive edge. Tort reform should be next after healthcare reform if America is to regain its competitive position in the world of business.  

What’s your take on this issue? Inquiring minds want to know. Comment on Linkedin and/or on my web site, http://www.BoomerOpinion.com. We are always looking for Baby Boomers with an opinion that don’t mind speaking out and can successfully complete a sentence.

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