Elanor…a face for Nationalized Health Care

My daughter Elanor needs nationalized health care.

Because of the septicemia caused by an infection when she was a week old resulting in a stroke and a failed kidney, she is basically uninsurable if she goes a single day without health insurance as the system currently works.  She will need a yearly evaluation of her single kidney to check its health and function.  Were it to fail, she would need a transplant.  She also is currently having her heart monitored annually for at least the next 3-4 years.  Due to the stroke, she sees neurology and the pediatric stroke team every few months, and will need follow up for at least 2-3 years and possibly longer if she does show any signs of developmental delay.  Going a single day without insurance would make this a pre existing condition; something private insurance companies are going to use to deny her coverage.  She is too expensive, theoretically, to insure.

We currently live in Massachusetts, the only state where Elanor is not uninsurable.  Where state law REQUIRES companies to insure her.  It has not escaped us that without nationalized health care, we have some major issues should my husband ever elect to change jobs.

Ravi currently works for a small company.  So small, in fact, that there is no COBRA option should the company close down.  Therefore, any job offer that Ravi could contemplate would need to offer insurance from day one, and we could not take a month in between jobs to deal with the move and such.  Ravi would have to go straight from his current employer to his next without a break, most likely requiring him to move before us and stay in a hotel until we have moved into a new home.  Were his company to close down, in Massachusetts we could just buy Blue Cross through the state (most likely at a frightening per month cost to us) or some equivalent plan.

The problem with switching jobs, or depending on me to find any job with health insurance is that there is usually a delay of 30-90 days from your work start date until health insurance kicks in.

I find the arguments against nationalized health care less than compelling.

There isn’t a single government agency or division that runs efficiently; do we really want an organization that developed the U.S. Tax Code handling something as complex as health care?

This is a disingenious play on the general feeling among the citizenry that the government is inefficient.  However, anyone who has had a claim denied or something incorrectly billed can testify that insurance companies are hardly smooth models of efficiency.  I doubt it would be any worse than dealing the red tape already is.

“Free” health care isn’t really free since we must pay for it with taxes; expenses for health care would have to be paid for with higher taxes or spending cuts in other areas such as defense, education, etc.

So what?  Bring on the higher taxes, especially for the wealthiest.  I’m not just paying lip service to that–we are in a very high tax bracket, and would happily sacrifice money to the greater good.  Bring on the defense cuts.

Profit motives, competition, and individual ingenuity have always led to greater cost control and effectiveness.

Are you kidding me?  Have you heard of the scandals surrounding Partners Health Care and how they’re forcing insurance companies to pay higher premiums to their branded hospitals as opposed to other hospitals?  Elite hospitals are paid more, and the services they provide are no better…there’s extensive coverage in the link to the Boston Globe’s series on this very issue.

Having the government involved could create caps to prevent this sort of price gouging.

Government-controlled health care would lead to a decrease in patient flexibility.

How, exactly?  That’s a scare tactic statement with no data or information to back it up.  What does that mean?

Patients aren’t likely to curb their drug costs and doctor visits if health care is free; thus, total costs will be several times what they are now.

Maybe Merck et al will stop their reckless price gouging as well.  The reason people go to Canada for drugs is that the same meds are cheaper because of the Canadian Government’s involvement.  There could also be an increase in preventative care so that issues like diabetes could be caught earlier and treatment won’t cost as much as it does when it’s caught far later and has created other issues.

Just because Americans are uninsured doesn’t mean they can’t receive health care; nonprofits and government-run hospitals provide services to those who don’t have insurance, and it is illegal to refuse emergency medical service because of a lack of insurance.

What about things like my daughter’s annual kidney checks?  That wouldn’t be covered by an emergency room.  They wouldn’t treat her until she was in kidney failure.  Also, as someone who has been to an emergency room without insurance, the bill is about 5 times what an insurance company would pay for the same services.

Granted, my daughter would have received the same care had I taken her to the same ER when she was at death’s door.  But I’ve seen the bills for her 3 weeks of inpatient treatment that saved her life and made her stable enough to come home.  They total well over 250,000 dollars.  I can also read the bills and see that Blue Cross paid $22,000 for the same care.  Were I not to have insurance, I would have gotten a bill for the 250k, not the 22k.  AND the ER would not have covered the follow up care Elanor needed–the home nurses, the multiple visits with nephrology, cardiology, neurology, gastroenterology, and the pedi stroke clinic.

The ER also would not have diagnosed Elanor’s food allergies or helped us find the right prescription formula.  Nor would anyone be helping us pay for it…our insurance covers 100% of the cost of Elanor’s formula.

The idea that an ER is any sort of reasonable substitution for real health care is naive, and quite frankly stupid.  All it does is result in hours long waits in the ER because of uninsured persons trying to get problems that could be dealt with by a PCP and appropriate follow up care purely because they have nowhere else to go.  Anyone who has waited 7 hours to be seen, or had to lay on a cot in a hallway because the ER was so crowded understands all too well that the ERs are not equipped to deal with this sort of volume, especially for minor concerns.

Government-mandated procedures will likely reduce doctor flexibility and lead to poor patient care

My insurance company is pretty inflexible about procedures and prior authorization and referrals.  The government will be worse, how?

Healthy people who take care of themselves will have to pay for the burden of those who smoke, are obese, etc.

They already do.  Corporate insurance policies rates have gone up every year, exponentially faster than cost of living increases.  Often, individual companies premiums have gone up due to usage.  It is a certainty that Ravi’s company will be paying higher premiums this year because of my high risk pregnancy and Elanor’s care.  They have paid out far more than the company has paid into the system, and it is a lock that they will make us pay for that.  It’s how the game works.

Beyond that, health care will allow for people to address these concerns early on and in some cases help alleviate the problems before they result in even more expensive problems down the line, causing everyone to pay even more.

A long, painful transition will have to take place involving lost insurance industry jobs, business closures, and new patient record creation.

That hasn’t been the case in MA.  There are public plans and there are private plans.  No one is proposing eliminating the private options, merely adding more choices to the mix.  Beyond that, paperless record keeping is fast becomign the norm.  As it does so, there are fewer and fewer issues in transferring data and records.  Within 2-5 years, everyone will be paperless and the transfer of records will be fairly simple.

Loss of private practice options and possible reduced pay may dissuade many would-be doctors from pursuing the profession.

Where are you coming up with the idea that doctors won’t be able to have private practices?

Also, the leading reason for people to decide against becoming doctors are the ridiculous malpractice insurance premiums they have to pay.

Malpractice lawsuit costs, which are already sky-high, could further explode since universal care may expose the government to legal liability, and the possibility to sue someone with deep pockets usually invites more lawsuits.

I grant that we are a litigious people.  However, the possibility that someone might get sued is hardly a reason to let 40million plus people go without insurance, a large percentage of them children.

Government is more likely to pass additional restrictions or increase taxes on smoking, fast food, etc., leading to a further loss of personal freedoms.

What’s wrong with a sin tax?  I choose to eat something that is bad for me, I have to pay a fee for the privledge.  It’s not that I can’t, it’s that I’m helping subsidize the care I may have to receive for my poor choices.  They’re not talking about banning Snickers…but paying an extra 50 cents isn’t going to hurt anyone.  It’s not what we should be eating in the first place, and one of the leading reasons poor people cite for their bad diet choices is that junk food is cheaper (which it is).  If it weren’t, and healthy food were cheaper, people would buy it.  Making someone think twice about how badly they want that Reeses or that Marlboro isn’t a bad thing.

My mom is a smoker and she is forever railing against the cost of cigarettes because of all the taxes.  However, I have no sympathy on that count.  She is choosing to do something that will shorten her lifespan, and most likely cause her a painful death.  She does something that puts my child (and those around her) at risk because of the dangers of second and third hand smoke.  With universal insurance, there would be more options available to her to help her battle her addiction.

Patient confidentiality is likely to be compromised since centralized health information will likely be maintained by the government.

I don’t see anyone talking about repealing HIPPA.  Under HIPPA, those who disclose a person’s information are liable for cash and jail time.

Health care equipment, drugs, and services may end up being rationed by the government. In other words, politics, lifestyle of patients, and philosophical differences of those in power, could determine who gets what.

Really?  What sort of dystopian post apocalytic world are you predicting?

Like social security, any government benefit eventually is taken as a “right” by the public, meaning that it’s politically near impossible to remove or curtail it later on when costs get out of control.

It SHOULD be a right.  It shouldn’t be possible to remove it later on.

Look up at my banner, at the face of why there’s a need for nationalized health care, and don’t buy into the lies the right is feeding you.

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