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Friday, March 17, 2017

Healthcare vs affordable health insurance: two seperate matters in U.S. politics


Healthcare and health insurance are competing issues that involve life, death and compassion; money, and risk.

Not long ago, when my father was a teacher at an HBCU, there was a network of black doctors, lawyers, and business people we depended on for services in our community. I don't remember going to the doctor being a political issue or something that would lead to us losing our home.

When I was sick with the measles, Dr. Hereford and Dr. Drake made house calls to see about me and other blacks in our neighborhood, and I don't remember my parents having to show an insurance card. Nurse Dent gave me vaccinations at school. For minor ailments, my mother consulted a big blue medical book she had gotten when she was a nurse in training at Howard University's Medical School and Freemen's Hospital in Washington D.C. My mother told me that when she was a girl and her finger was severed with a cooking knife, my grandmother went to the attic, grabbed some cobwebs, and wrapped her dangling finger which healed back in place, leaving only a scar. 

In the 1960's, the U.S. population was 179,323,175. Today's population estimate is 326,109,348 - a 55% increase. It is no longer feasible to get the same type of individualized care available when I was growing up it seems, therefore, healthcare systems have been implemented.  

Preventative and emergency care along with doctor's relationships with patients have also changed in the last 100 years, and now we deal daily with the fear of getting sick and not being able to save ourselves or our pocketbooks from financial disasters. Just the constant dialogue over healthcare is making some stressed out and causing dis-ease. Healthcare is big business and has turned into a political football that is making those watching it sick!


Emergency room visits are often the result of accidents which can be expensive without health insurance.
 
Many, including our political representatives who say they are acting in the interest of the American people but have their healthcare paid with our tax dollars, don't seem to understand the difference between healthcare and affordable health insurance. There is a difference, you know... our health should be a priority and dealt with compassion, nor political resistance. Health insurance is a product based on risk, and the healthcare system runs on profit.

To gain more understanding, I have reference Wikipedia which I often do when I don't understand a topic.

Healthcare is the maintenance or improvement of health via the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease, illness, injury, and other physical and mental impairments in human beings. Healthcare is delivered by health professions. Access to healthcare varies across countries, groups, and individuals, largely influenced by social and economic conditions as well as the health policies in place. Countries and jurisdictions have different policies and plans in relation to the personal and population-based healthcare goals within their societies.

Healthcare systems are organizations established to meet the health needs of target populations. Their exact configuration varies between national and sub-national entities. In some countries and jurisdictions, healthcare planning is distributed among market participants, whereas in others, planning occurs more centrally among governments or other coordinating bodies. In all cases, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), a well-functioning healthcare system requires a robust financing mechanism; a well-trained and adequately-paid workforce; reliable information on which to base decisions and policies; and well maintained health facilities and logistics to deliver quality medicines and technologies. 

If you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything. Your health should be viewed as your greatest asset, not how much money you have in the bank!
 
The reason healthcare has become a political football is because it can contribute to a significant part of a country's economy. In 2011, the health care industry consumed an average of 9.3 percent of the GDP or US$ 3,322 (PPP-adjusted) per capita across the 34 members of OECD countries. The USA (17.7%, or US$ PPP 8,508), the Netherlands (11.9%, 5,099), France (11.6%, 4,118), Germany (11.3%, 4,495), Canada (11.2%, 5669), and Switzerland (11%, 5,634) were the top spenders, however life expectancy in total population at birth was highest in Switzerland (82.8 years), Japan and Italy (82.7), Spain and Iceland (82.4), France (82.2) and Australia(82.0), while OECD's average exceeds 80 years for the first time ever in 2011: 80.1 years, a gain of 10 years since 1970. The USA has the highest cost of any OECD member countries, all who have achieved almost universal health coverage except for Mexico and the USA. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_care)

Health insurance is insurance against the risk of incurring medical expenses among individuals. By estimating the overall risk of healthcare and health system expenses, among a targeted group, an insurer can develop a routine finance structure, such as a monthly premium or payroll tax, to ensure that money is available to pay for the health care benefits specified in the insurance agreement. The benefit is administered by a central organization such as a government agency, private business, or not-for-profit entity. According to the Health Insurance Association of America, health insurance is defined as "coverage that provides for the payments of benefits as a result of sickness or injury. It includes insurance for losses from accident, medical expense, disability, or accidental death and dismemberment." (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_insurance)


 What would Jesus and Mother Theresa say about all this? 


When I think about affordability, I think it should be a percentage of take home pay, income, or assets. Those with the least income should pay less, and those with the most income should pay more! The insurance industry should not be compelled by risk but by justice - making sure no one is mistreated and those who need the most help receive it. 

Consider this analogy.  I used to think schools were for the benefit of students but soon realized that it benefits educational systems and their administrators and teachers first. Take a look at insurance company profits/doctor profits. Sick or potentially sick individuals are used as profit motivators instead of people to be treated and healed. We should teach preventative care to every citizen, and doctors should follow the Hippocratic Oath. Doctors and healthcare providers are human, too, and can be motivated by their own self interests, greed, and poor ethics.

We should be able to choose our healthcare providers.  If I could, I would go to the doctor I lovingly labeled “Cookie Monster” but can't because he's not in my insurance network and it costs me more to see him. Instead, I go to a “system” of doctors who I do not know, some who have had the audacity to tell me to hurry up and make a medical decision about my care because they have other patients to attend to. Also, insurance companies should not "own" healthcare providers. An example is that EyeMed owns Lenscrafters, etc., therefore, insurance decides which doctors or procedures will be “covered,” not the patient. 

Here are some final thoughts:
Healthcare should be based on need and not cost.


Healthcare for the most venerable is the justice we’re looking for – help folks that need help the most – poor, sick, elderly.

My choice - same plan as lawmakers, executives at best companies receive. Take a look at their premiums and deductibles.

Base our plan on other OECD countries and/or strengthen Medicare/Medicaid.

Clinic solutions should not replace Planned Parenthood.


Once you get sick, especially with a catastrophic illness, it’s hard to manage your care or make right choices. 
Medical providers should be supported, not over worked, but not given a free pass on malpractice.
We need to protect against cancer, drug dependencies, and clinical depression.
We need healthcare advocates!

Secretary of Health should not necessarily be a doctor, but an advocate who has full knowledge of the insurance industry, like an experienced public insurance adjuster, or a healthcare advocate.

We’ve allowed healthcare to become big mess of medical providers, institutions, insurance companies, and government bureaucrats. 

We, living in the most affluent nation on Earth, should want everyone to be healthy. That’s what affordable healthcare should be about. Most importantly, we need preventative care focused on exercise, nutrition, immunizations, safety in the workplace, environmental safety. We need to guard against health hazards, disease, and aging.

Fighting for the lives of our citizens is becoming a game. I need to have the faith and assurance that my government, the one I pay taxes to, has my back!

3 comments:

  1. George says: Jesus healed the sick and fed the poor without asking for any compensation. Healthcare is a right, not a privilege. Single payer gets my vote!

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  2. I'm paraphrasing, but Jesus said the way we treat the least members of society in the way we treat him. In other words, we are showing disrespect to Him if we show disrespect to the poor. The GOP health plan shows disrespect to the most vulnerable members of society by bumping them off health insurance and would cut taxes for the rich. The Republicans ought to get out their Bibles and seriously consider this very important verse. And they should think about what the Bible says about the chances of the rich getting to heaven. Something about the chances of a camel getting through the hole of a needle. Keep the faith, Tomi! Kirk's cousin, Martin

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