Dr. Roger A. Meyer is a distinguished surgeon and a graduate of Hoquiam High School (Class of 1955). He weighs in on where our present health care system has gone wrong and offers his thoughts for a better approach. We thank him for his contribution. – Ed
By Dr. Roger A. Meyer
The current situation with the Affordable Health Care and Patient Protection Act (aka “Obamacare”) is a boondoggle for insurance companies. People are forced to buy health insurance with all kinds of government mandates that an individual consumer may or may not need or want – maternity care, birth control, mental health or addiction care, etc. – or face a stiff penalty/tax/fee. Take your choice.
What really needs to be done – and I have serious doubts that either political party, whether extreme left, centrist, or extreme right can get anything done in the current emotionally-charged atmosphere in Congress – is to get the insurance industry OUT, OUT, OUT of any health care plan.
The Open Market
Health insurance, like every other insurance (home, auto, personal liability, etc.) should be purchased individually on the open market. It should not be tied to one’s employer or place of residence. In other words, let it be taken with you wherever you work or reside, across the border into another state, if you change your place of residence. Patients should be able to select the specific coverage they want/need and not be forced to pay for those coverages (mandates in today’s law) that they do not want, or need, or are irrelevant to their personal health situation.
Regarding costs, the people who don’t have the money to purchase insurance “individually on the open market” may find that the “open market” is cheaper for them than one of the “exchanges” from which they are now forced to purchase a policy under Obamacare. These insurance premiums are high because the insurance companies have a “captive audience.” Those policies are still much too expensive for the many people who have chosen to go uninsured and pay the tax/penalty/fee that is leveled against them when they file their IRS returns each year.
Beware ‘Single Payer’
What plan, short of a “single-payer”, government-controlled health care plan, could possibly include everyone? A plan that covered everyone, regardless of ability to pay, and without restrictions or “rationing” would surely bankrupt our country. Look what has happened in the United Kingdom and Canada.
They have single payer government health care. They also have rationing or limits on what can be covered, and who can or cannot receive it (e.g. no organ transplants or joint replacements for those over 65 years old). They have waiting lists for “elective surgery” such as open heart or angioplasty procedure and limited resources due to limits on the amounts that government through taxation can spend on health care. This includes not enough hospitals, clinics, physicians and nurses who are all leaving to come to the USA to practice.
One good thing in Canada is that the government is allowed to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies to purchase drugs at deeply-discounted rates. This is unlike the USA, where the federal government is prevented from negotiating drug prices for Medicare and Medicaid. You can thank George W. Bush for that outrage. He signed the bill for that legislation in 2003.
Maybe a single-payer government health care program similar to Medicare or Medicaid should be provided to everyone unable to afford private insurance, but only if available in an “open market” that provides only “basic services” such as annual physicals, well-baby checks, obstetrics care, immunizations, routine office visits. Anything else, including all types of surgery and hospitalizations for serious illnesses, would be provided by one’s private insurance policy. There could be “subsidies” for those whose income fell below a certain level, or pro-rated for all, based on annual income.
Culpability and Special Interests
This whole health care mess is really an issue that is mostly insoluble when government, insurance companies, big pharmaceutical companies and medical care complexes (such as big university medical centers, or local or nationwide medical center holding companies such as Argent, Tenet, and their ilk) try to interject their special interests into the physician/patient relationship. Organized medicine (e.g. the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association, etc.) is also culpable in this regards. They support Obamacare, thinking that this is good for their bureaucracy, ignoring the individual physician and his/her patients.
Meanwhile, insurance companies are contributing big bucks to both political parties, so no matter who wins an election, that elected person is beholden to the insurance industry and goes against it at great peril. (If re-election is a priority, and show me a politician whose re-election is not more of a priority than his/her service to his/her constituents.)
No Simple Answers
This is not a simple issue with simple answers. However, every time government gets involved in personal relationships, especially those involving health care situations – see abortion, birth control, war on drugs, etc. – they manage to turn it into a political process which has “winners” – insurance companies, BIG PHARMA, big health care complexes, etc. – and “losers” – the very people government is supposed to serve: patients and their physicians and other care-givers.
The answer to this dilemma is awaiting the attention of honest, reasonable, charitable, but also sensible politicians. We can’t bankrupt our country or enslave its populace so that those who can’t provide for their own health care can receive the same health care as those who are willing and able to pay for it.
Is this a “Pollyanna-ish” hope? Let’s hope NOT!
Hemlock should be free to all self-serving politicians.
While we’re on the subject:
Roger A. Meyer, DDS, MD, FACS – Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon
A graduate of Hoquiam High School (Class of ’55), Dr. Meyer received his DDS from the University of Washington School of Dentistry, Seattle, and his MD from Creighton University School of Medicine, Omaha, Nebraska. He earned an MS degree in physiology from the University of Washington while serving as a Research Fellow in the Department of Anesthesiology, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle. He served a dental internship at the US Public Health Service Hospital, Norfolk, Virginia. He completed residencies in general surgery at the University of Vermont Medical Center, Burlington, and in oral and maxillofacial surgery at the University of Washington Affiliated Hospitals, Seattle. He received additional post-residency training in microsurgery at several institutions.