Health Care Reform? INSURANCE BAIL OUT is more like it – by guest author Skyagunsta

By Skyagunsta

Let it be said upfront and outright that not having a Single-Payer Universal Health care System, to cover medically necessary services for all Americans, is a major travesty played on the American people by the enabling, moneyed-making relationship existing between the insurance companies and the politicians. As a result, the politicians continue to guarantee, on the backs of the American people, that insurance companies keep their profit-making apparatus well fed; while the insurance companies make sure politicians keep their influence-peddled pockets filled to the brim.

The rest of us are caught in this money fest, we who feed the insurance companies that feed the politicians.

Ask President Obama. He will tell you that insurance “premiums have grown three times faster than wages [of regular Americans] have.”

On July 22nd, Obama stated, “if the present trend continues, … families will have to provide health care at a bigger bite out of their budget .. employers will put more of the cost on employees, or not provide health care altogether.”

This prediction is hardly one that is waiting around the bend. It is happening now as the battle for a semblance of acceptable health care rages on in Congress, with politicians and insurance companies united against the third leg of the triangle: the rest of us, the castaways of the 21st century.

Out in the private sector, where the roving eyes of politicians fail to see clearly now because of the blinders put on them by insurance companies, sick leaves, which were never mandated by law but were a time honored benefit extended to employees by honorable, caring employers, have been canceled by some employers who, either use the bad economy as a pretext to do so, or are truly being hit hard by the bad economy and have little recourse but to do so …

Maternity Leave

Maternity leaves are now, just that, maternity leaves (i.e., postpartum leaves,) no matter if, prior to delivery, bed rest has been ordered by the attending physician to keep a mother from having a miscarriage.

The case of medically ordered rest for an expectant mother, these days, translates into lost wages, as in the case of a family member, close and dear to me, who has been put on bed rest by her physician a whole month prior to her due date in order to keep her from having a miscarriage and, who, needs to heed the advice of the physician or lose the child.

Sadly, what only seems to matter to the insurance companies, to the politicians and to the employers is the money they can keep in their pockets. Not the care that anyone receives.

Reduced Benefits and Higher Premiums

Other employers who have reduced their employees’ work week to less than 20 hours a week, no longer provide health insurance coverage to their less-than-half-time employees.

Premiums, as Obama predicts, have indeed skyrocketed and no longer are an affordable option for many working Americans. Coverage has decreased while premiums and co-pays have gone up. Plans cover less, at a higher cost to the consumer than what the same consumer paid, not so long ago, for a plan that covered more.

We, the castaways of the 21st century, the silver haired crowd who paid our way into the Medicare system; we, the workers who can barely afford to cover a mortgage or pay rent, feed and clothe ourselves and our children, put gas in our cars. We, the poor who depend on Medicaid for our health care, do not need to have the wool pulled over our eyes. All this talk in both houses of congress and the White House about health care reform is just that. Talk.

Obama’s statement at a July 1st Town Hall Meeting on Health Care

In a lot of other countries, a single-payer plan works pretty well, and has eliminated private insurers and the associated administrative costs. Here’s the problem, he says: The way our health-care system has evolved, it’s based on employer-provided insurance, which requires the insurance companies to stay in place. The president is pretty blunt: For the U.S. to transition entirely away from the companies could be “hugely disruptive”. What we’re looking for is a “uniquely American” solution, he says, before repeating the merits of the plan that’s on the table. Again, he’s careful to acknowledge that he understands why people are so enthusiastic about a single-payer system but he wants to build on what works in the existing system.

For the politicians and the Obama crowd, who spew out words like affordable health care, dollars are the issue. For the rest of us true good, affordable health care is the issue.

The politicians, who, one and all, pride and honor themselves as highly moral, highly honorable, highly compassionate, cannot see that they are really tepid in their morality and their compassion, timid in really taking on the health reform, and fixated as they are on the dollar sign, have become highly sentimental to departing with the money deposited in their pockets, bank accounts, or PAC accounts by the insurance companies. They have forgotten, or care not to see, that we need caring physicians who are not out to make a buck at your expense or mine.

What We Need

We need doctors who are not going to be penalized, (paid less,) because they give us the care that we need. And, we also need doctors whose gaze is fixed on the healing aspect of their careers rather than the profit-making aspect of their businesses.

We need hospitals able to remember that they are there to provide care, rather than to make a fast buck on which to build a building, or a five-star reputation garnered out of the wheeler-dealer money, sucked out of our pockets by the insurance companies and the very hospitals themselves, for our care.

Compassion walked out the door altogether from the health care field and unless you, or I, have one of those Cadillac health insurance plans that our taxes buy for politicians, don’t count on any compassion coming your way.

Care providers, be they doctors or hospitals, (and even insurance companies) have forgotten that their best names are built by word of mouth, from person to person, by people willing to give their providers’ of services, (even their insurers) a thumbs up. An “A”, for the honest-to-goodness, greedless care, they provide.

Greed Took Over Health Care

Somewhere along the way, greed took over. Someone forgot that we are human beings, one and all. Someone forgot that unlike robotic machines, made to last to an almost forever without breaking down, our systems tend to need rest and healing repairs from time to time. Someone also forgot that when our systems break down and need healing, most of us do not earn the salaries that our taxes pay the politicians who can then afford their “Cadillac of Insurance Plans, paid for by our taxes”, nor do we earn the salaries that our consumerism pays the political pundits on television, who can, also afford those Cadillac types of insurance plans.

Yet, at one point or another in our lives, our organisms suffer breakdowns and need repairs, also known as healing. Hopefully from the hands of good care providers.

Case in point: Isn’t Senator Chris Dodd lucky, first of all, that, a) his prostate cancer was diagnosed early, and secondly, that a) he has, paid for by our taxes, one of those Cadillac health insurance plan that will afford him the best of care that b) we the people, can give him, through his insurance plan.

Lucky are those of us who go through life without needing cancer care, heart stents, blood pressure medications, diabetic monitoring, surgeries, knee and/or hip replacements, screws inserted into our bones, all to name just a few of the ailing possibilities for any of us, and when any of this happens to any of us, we, the castaways of the 21st century, need to know, as a much needed part of our healing, that we are in the hands of providers who are not looking out for the dollars they can put into their own pockets, but rather that they are truly looking out after our health. We also need to know we are not going to be handed a bill for thousands of dollar at the beginning or the end of our care, and that our insurance is going to afford us the care that we need.

What a comforting thought to think that our politicians cared enough to give us insurance paid for by our taxes the same as our taxes pay for insurance for them.  Hippocrates, the man most reputed as The Father of Medicine knew that healing was the real profit of medicine.

The doctors of not so long ago, those doctors who came to our houses with their black bags, their stethoscopes and prescription pads, knew that.

The pharmacists, who filled out our needed prescriptions for a price that was affordable to most, knew that. Those pharmacists who owned their own pharmacies, who were not part of a chain of pharmacies, who got up in the middle of the night to go to their pharmacies to fill a prescription for some medical emergency for a familiar, and even not so familiar, customer, knew that.

But somehow, it all became big business and I don’t think, as some do, that Medicare and/or Medicaid bear the blame for it.

Everyone, and I was shocked to hear that Obama, too, blames Medicare and Medicaid for our health care woes. I blame the private insurance companies and the politicians who receive money from them. I blame those who think profits trump people, no matter what – bureaucracy, bureaucrats, forms, and reimbursements.

Impersonal judgments on whether to treat or not to treat a patient are made by insurance case managers, who look out for the insurance company’s wealth, rather than for the health of the insured patient, make up a great deal of our care today.

HMO Bureaucrats

We see doctors who are assigned to us by some provider list in the Health Maintenance Organizations provider panels (profitable HMOs, which ironically were created for the purpose of, we thought, reducing health care costs to our pockets, while providing us with good health care. Though, to them, reducing health care costs means reducing doctors‘ visits and limiting, or even denying required procedures, even if the person needing, “x”, or “y”, procedure is in dire need of it.)

We go to hospitals assigned to us by our same HMOs provider panel lists, or by our Preferred Provider Organizations (PPOs) which are slightly a step above the HMOs, but which still get to control who, how, and where we receive health care, depending on what plan of coverage we choose to buy from them. PPOs give us the impression that we are free to choose our providers, which we are, as long as the healthcare provider we choose is within their PPO provider panel. Otherwise, we are free to have to pay through the nose for seeing an out-of-panel provider.

Somewhere, too, in those hospitals there are rows of offices filled with bureaucrats, untouchable administrators, automatons akin to the wizard in the Wizard of Oz, the persons who run it all behind a set of desks. Those people who left their hearts out the door and turned them into cash registers as soon as they crossed the threshold to the hospitals, People no one gets to see, but who get to set the rules for the hospitals and their staff. The people only other VIPS, who grow in their own importance each time they open an administrator‘s door, can get to see and talk to.
So, when did it all get turned up all side down?

Why did, in 1976, Drs. Morri, Bean and Brooks, become, Drs. Morri, Bean and Bacon to a telephone information operator who shared with the caller requesting their number, the same frustration as the caller, due to a similarly exorbitant radiology bill and inflated charges by these doctors for respective procedures performed by them at a treating hospital?

Why did complaint calls to the insurance company and to the very doctors’ offices go unheeded? Why did no one care? Were they ahead of their times? Or, is 1976 about the time when these inflated charges began to appear on patients’ hospital bills?

Our President and politicians are pulling the wool over our eyes when it comes to health care.

Medicare and Medicaid Are Not the Only Contributors to a Federal Deficit

I was stunned listening to Obama blame Medicare for the floundering situation in which our current economy finds itself. Obama said, “Let me be clear, the biggest driving force behind our Federal deficit is the skyrocketing cost of Medicare and Medicaid.”

Why would he not place blame squarely where it needs to be? Why would he not blame the GREAT FEDERAL DEFICIT OUR ECONOMY IS SUFFERING TODAY on the immoral invasion and occupation of Iraq, which didn’t need to happen, but did because the previous president, the war president, wanted it to happen?

As the Spanish say, me quedé parpadeando, or me quedé perpleja! I was perplexed!

Why was there, no mention of Timothy Geithner? No mention of Larry Summers? Not of the Wall street Rescue Plan? Not of the Bush invasion and occupation of Iraq? No mention of how our national coffers are being ransacked by poor stewardship in favor of bail-outs, invasions, occupations, stuff that have nothing to do with Medicare and Medicaid? … Has none of that anything to do with our Federal deficit? I think it does. A whole lot so, much more than our Medicare and Medicaid Systems on which Obama and others cast blame.

We, the Medicare crowd paid our way into Medicare, the government run health care system which our taxes bought for us, and which, now, the insurance companies, and the war and greedy politicians want to dismantle. Are we, the silver-haired crowd, so old and feeble that we can be scapegoated and no one take notice?

An Unbiased View of Health Care?

And what is this idea offered up to him by Chip Reid, Chief Whitehouse Correspondent for CBS News, to let an independent group study the problem of health care reform and make suggestions as to how our health care should be mended, really using his platform as correspondent to upstage his voice over and above ours?

Who will trust any study group, like the MedPac mentioned by Obama in his response to Reid, to present an unbiased view of health care?

I mean, after the 9/11 commission, which was supposed to be such an unbiased, non-partisan group on a fact-finding mission, turned out to be such a “pro-Bush-hide-the-truth” commission? Who, in their right minds can trust any study groups, advisory committees, or fact-finding missions, crawling with government people, who give us only slanted views and findings? Who can trust them to turn around and give us a factual and truthful finding of how our health care can and should be reformed? Not I.

And if the president wants to listen to the truth of any studies on health care reform and how to cut cost and save needless dollars spent on health care, why does he not listen to the studies and reports of Physicians for a National Health Program. They have quite a few things to say, and they know what they are saying, based on facts. Non-political ones.

Then again, Obama, in defending individual mandates, had his own twisted fact about Single Payer-Universal Healthcare, when he told Chuck Todd of MSNBC that, “unless you have a Single Payer system where everyone is covered you are probably not going to reach everyone because there is probably someone out there who thinks they are indestructible and don’t want insurance until they are hit by a bus and end up in the Emergency Room and we end up paying for it.”

Obama must have just had a plate load of beer pretzels right before that conference. He is not going to give Americans valuable healthcare reform because someone out there doesn’t want health insurance? I think Obama’s reason for not wanting to give us Single-Payer Universal Healthcare has more to do with what he said on July 1st at that town hall meeting, when he said, to repeat, Mr. Obama said, in response to a question about Single-Payer Universal Healthcare,

In a lot of other countries, a single-payer plan works pretty well, and has eliminated private insurers and the associated administrative costs. Here’s the problem, he says: The way our health-care system has evolved, it’s based on employer-provided insurance, which requires the insurance companies to stay in place.

He made it very clear that standing by the insurance companies and their stranglehold on our pockets is his goal in health care reform.

Former Cigna Health Care CEO Speaks

This quote from Wendell Potter, former CIGNA HEALTHCARE CEO, affirms the real push against Single Payer, Universal Health care.

WENDELL POTTER: The industry has always tried to make Americans think that government-run systems are the worst thing that could possibly happen to them, that if you even consider that, you’re heading down on the slippery slope towards socialism. So they have used scare tactics for years and years and years, to keep that from happening. If there were a broader program like our Medicare program, it could potentially reduce the profits of these big companies. So that is their biggest concern.

Señor Presidente, if your excuse for not putting Single-Payer Universal Healthcare on the table is based on fear of criticism that taxed based, government run health care is, “a slippery road towards socialism” it is rather a poor excuse. It is not, and you know it, “a slippery road towards socialism.”

The Case for Single-Payer Universal Health Care

First of all, I think that under a Single-Payer Universal Health care they guy who thought he was indestructible until he ended up in the emergency room, that guy’s hospital visit would be covered by a universal health care system whether he wanted to or not, and we, the taxpayers, would end up paying as much for his emergency room call, as we would for anyone else who had accepted the mandated insurance. I also think that our taxes are put to much better use when they do that, than when they are used for invasions and occupations, bank bail outs, and welfare to the rich.

As stated by Physicians for a National Health Program,

“A single-payer system would be financed by eliminating private insurers and recapturing their administrative waste. Modest new taxes would replace premiums and out-of-pocket payments currently paid by individuals and business. Costs would be controlled through negotiated fees, global budgeting and bulk purchasing.”

The problem for you, Mr. President, is, as you well put it, single-payer would eliminate private insurers.
You and the politicians want to stand by the insurance companies, despite your lip service of wanting to stand by us.
That is just darn inexcusable.

Bill Maher says it best.

Author’s Bio: Skyagunsta is a fictional name. The real person behind the fictional name is a computer activist. She is a former mental health clinician. A poet and a freelance writer. Her work has been published in several online publications.
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2 Responses to Health Care Reform? INSURANCE BAIL OUT is more like it – by guest author Skyagunsta

  1. skyagunsta says:

    Sage. Thank you.

    Sage Reply:

    Thank you Sky.

    You make great points and I have to say I am disappointed that it looks like what we will get is indeed a health insurance bailout.

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