Today I read an article in the Los Angeles Times about forcing people to pay for insurance coverage. See the following article: http://www.latimes.com/news/nation-and-world/la-na-healthcare-qa21-2009dec21,0,3694244.story
Any time the government starts requiring people to buy health insurance coverage I am afraid that we are heading down a slippery slope. As the article discusses you run into the problem of young healthy people having to pay for elderly people who are sicker as well as people who have chronic illnesses who use more health care resources.
The problem is with governmental involvement as we’ve already seen with Medicare and Medicaid, is that everyone who is working has to already pay higher taxes to keep these programs going.
Low middle-income to middle-class income families are already feeling like they are overtaxed for existing programs. To ask these people who are getting by day by day to pay for mandated insurance coverage in addition to taxes they already pay for existing programs is going to reduce the amount of money consumers have to pay for goods and services that drive the economy.
The government proposes that perhaps young healthier people would be able to pay lower premiums that would provide less coverage. That still doesn’t answer the problem for these families when someone in their family has a major illness.
If these people are still paying taxes for existing programs and having to pay for the healthcare mandated insurance premium where are they going to get the money to pay for healthcare expenses that are not covered by their policy?
Also, every time the government gets involved in any industry the people end up having to pay more money for all the added bureaucracy that goes along with governmental involvement. Red tape includes additional staffing to deal with paperwork required by the federal government and additional people to oversee the people who deal with red tape and paperwork. It’s a never-ending cycle of waste and confusion.
Considering my experience with working in the healthcare industry and also working for a company that contracted with HCFA in addition to my struggle in finding treatment for my illnesses, I feel that the government should be kept out of the healthcare industry as much as possible.
For example, one reason the government and insurance companies became involved in the way that doctors practice medicine was because of the cost of lengthy inpatient hospital stays. So the government started requiring hospitals to discharge Medicare and Medicaid patients within preset time limits. These limits were based on guidelines set by predetermined diagnosis related groupings based on the diagnosis of the patient including comorbid conditions.
Unfortunately, this reduced the quality of care received by some patients. This required the government to add additional expenses to the taxpayer to fund peer-reviewed organizations to monitor quality of care that patients received.
The cost of care was then shifted to outpatient care. The intention was to reduce healthcare costs. Due to the fact that patients go to see different healthcare providers for different health problems, tests are duplicated at each health care provider that the patient sees.
Insurance companies followed this practice. So, instead of bringing the patient into the hospital and having several specialists see the patient during the hospital stay and then being discharged. Patients go from provider to provider where tests are duplicated and there is no continuity of care.
I can say from my own experience as a patient having complicated GI symptoms, that I spent years going from doctor to doctor trying to find out what was wrong. Even when the doctor admitted me to the hospital, he or she did not call in life specialist to get to the bottom of what was wrong with me.
Instead, each doctor repeated the same lab tests and C.T. scans every time I went to see a different doctor.
A big problem is that there is no centralized medical record containing the patient’s history. I think this problem could be solved by a service that would provide the healthcare consumer with an ongoing copy of their electronic medical record put onto a disc that the doctor could insert into his computer. That would provide an updated history and test results for the patient. The doctor then would not have to waste the time and money going over histories and ordering additional tests.
I believe the key to successful healthcare reform would be a consumer driven healthcare system that allowed doctors to practice medicine the way medicine should be practiced. If the consumer was made aware of all the information in the record and the doctor acted as an advocate to help the patient understand any question the patient might have about their healthcare, this would decrease this communication and misunderstandings that increase the cost of health care.
Once information was invited to the consumer, it would be in the doctor’s best interest to provide good-quality of care to the patient. There would also be an incentive for providers to reduce cost of care. This incentive would come from the knowledge that patients had of care that was being provided them by health care providers.
The outdated model of doctors keeping information from their patients in the best interests of the patient is outdated. People are use to seeking information from the Internet and with the consumer driven movement of healthcare announced enough resources would be available to help the patient understand the care that they are receiving.