Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

January 3, 2013

It might collapse into a plan that actually works

George Michael’s reflection on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“Maybe Obamacare will collapse,” Dec. 28 Times-News) ignores so much.

But let’s start with a question. Can anyone pursue life, liberty and happiness without health?

Does it not bother him that 40,000 Americans needlessly die each year because they lack health insurance? Does it not bother him that over 60 percent of U.S. bankruptcies are related to health costs?

Check out how one average family was saved from bankruptcy by Obamacare in Jenine Urbaniak’s article at Open Salon Blog. Observe the rampant greed of Urbaniak’s insurance company, obviously more interested in profit than the health of its customers.  

One excellent provision in Obamacare is that insurance companies are required to give plain language descriptions of costs and benefits. No more unreadable tiny print exceptions hidden in documents.

Mr. Michael writes about various medical device companies saying they will have to lay off workers if an excise tax is levied on medical devices.

He fails to mention that a number of these companies have been ripping off Medicare on such items as back braces — charging on average $919 for a brace that should retail for $191.

Medicare officials say they want competitive bidding, something the industry is fighting. Greed trumps all.

Medical supplies are the second largest expenditure in our nation’s hospitals and clinics and a big contributor to the exploding cost of health care. Yet a few big medical supply companies rip the system off even as they make health care more dangerous.

See the eye-opening article by Mariah Blake in Washington Monthly. The enormity of the greed of the few that puts the majority at risk — including health care providers — is tragic.

Mr. Michael then talks about the increased cost to every American when the program is implemented, even when many experts say it will save billions.

He fails to mention that initially, the goal was to have a single-payer program to protect everyone, based on the Medicare example.

Had we done that — something European countries did years ago — we would have eliminated the massive administrative costs of insurance companies (many of those costs dedicated to denying coverage, by the way).

Control of fraud would also be much easier. Of course the insurance industry made sure their lucrative skimming of health care costs would continue through their congressional friends.

Mr. Michael doesn’t mention that whereas we spend far more on health care than any other country, we rank poorly overall in health care delivery.

The World Health Organization ranks us 37th in the world. We are also one of only three industrialized countries with a sizeable portion of the population uninsured.

I’m sure Mr. Michael has a very good health insurance policy for himself and his family.

For the roughly 50 million people in this country who aren’t as lucky as he is — and most are hard working — what option is left? Mostly, they put off visits to the doctor, then go to the emergency room, which is far more expensive for all us.

Mr. Michael hopes Obamacare will collapse — saying the “devious tactics of the president and Democratic leaders” led to its passage.

President Obama cared about health care for all, not just the privileged few. Had he not been thwarted by the greed of those reaping enormous profits at the expense of the many, we might have had a solid single-payer plan.

With luck, Obamacare will collapse into such a plan where all have access to good health care. I can only hope.

Craig Etchison

Fort Ashby, W.Va.

 

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