Universal Health Care? We Already Have It!

The hot topic in the last several presidential elections has always centered around the same or similar issues; the economy, international affairs/terrorism and healthcare. The Clintons made health care such a large issue that Hilliary had to take that bull by the horns herself. Unfortunately, the bull drug her into the dirt. That’s a beast that needs Paul Bunyan to bring it down.

Now more than ever before, the issue of health care, specifically “universal health care“, is one of the most discussed topics. The news is rife with stories about the increasing number of uninsured who have no access to health care. More and more corporations that used to provide health insurance benefits to their employees, are more often opting for insurance plans that offer fewer benefits with larger deductibles and copays. The employees are paying more for their coverage than ever before. Medicare recipients have also seen their deductibles and copays increase. The bottom line is that the patient is becoming responsible for their own health care.

The government has already enacted legislation that insures that everyone has access. It may not be cheap, efficient or cost-effective, but it is access just the same. From Medicare to Medicaid and “anti-dumping” laws, the government has assured you of access.

Take for example a person who works at a fast food restaurant, has no employer sponsored health insurance and can barely afford to live from paycheck to paycheck. What do these people do when they need care? They visit their local Emergency Room (ER). Because of government legislation initially designed to address patient “dumping” (sending a patient away that may not have had the ability to pay, to a public hospital), we now have created the largest, most inefficient and expensive clinic system in the US. No one who presents themselves to the Emergency Room can be turned away. The ER is required by law, to “evaluate and stabilize” that patient, regardless of the trivial nature of their complaint.

In my own personal experience, a typical day in the ER consists of truly ill people needing emergency care. But intermixed in this group are a large number of patients with these bullsh*t conditions; overdose on illegal street drugs; an alcoholic, currently intoxicated, who ran out of money and is afraid of going into withdrawal; a woman and ALL of her family who have a cold, called 911 and came by ambulance; a return visit for another STD; drug seekers who go from hospital to hospital looking for narcotics; a felon trying to get admitted to the hospital to keep from going to jail; “I ran out of my meds and I need a refill”; “I didn’t get my prescription filled that you gave me two days ago and now I’m worse”; alcoholics who develop pancreatitis because they drink too much; illegal aliens; etc.

Guess what? NONE of those people have insurance and NONE of them will pay their bill. This is what happens every day in every ER in the country. The numbers of these patients increases every year. They have free access and so does everyone else. So why is everyone complaining? The government isn’t paying for them. The insurance companies aren’t paying for them. The politicians aren’t paying for them. Do you know who IS paying for them? You are. The hospitals are. The doctors are.

The government doesn’t pay. The budget reconciliation act demands that Medicare payments be frozen. All they do now is change the slices of the pie, the pie stays the same size. The insurance companies simply increase premiums and decrease your benefits while they decrease payments to doctors and hospitals. When was the last time a health insurance company went bankrupt, didn’t show a profit or didn’t pay a bonus to their executives (I buy stock in insurance companies as a way to get some of my money back)? The politicians in Washington certainly aren’t paying for it. We pay their salaries, staff and benefits with our taxes. They have one of the richest benefit plans (including health insurance) that you could imagine.

You pay for it by paying higher premiums, deductibles and copays. Hospitals have no choice but to pass those expenses on to the paying patients. Doctors pay because they are providing free care. They also have to have health insurance just like everyone else. And believe it or not, the lovely patients I described above are also more likely to file a frivolous lawsuit. Can anyone say “lottery”?

Everyone has access to health care, if they need it. Unfortunately, the people who routinely take advantage of that privilege are the ones who have learned to manipulate the system with petty, self-abusive, self-inflicted diseases and not the working stiff who deserves a break.

What a shame.

Doc B

My opinion is free.
Advice is worth exactly what you pay for it.


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