Solution to healthcare reform elusive [UPDATED]Published 8:04am Monday, April 9, 2012 Updated 10:04am Monday, April 9, 2012
Based on the last week’s back-and-forth between U.S. Supreme Court justices, it appears the federal health care bill is likely to be trashed.
And it means that Michelle Bachmann, Rush Limbaugh and others can crow about how all of our personal liberties are now saved because we are now not forced to buy health insurance.
My answer to that is, wonderful. So now what do we do?
If there’s one thing that everyone can agree on, it’s that health care in the United States is too expensive — for businesses, for individuals, for health insurance companies, even for doctors.
If costs continue to climb at the exponential rate they are, that 1 percent of the population that is wealthy may be the only ones who can afford health care.
Why health care costs have gone up, of course, is under great debate. Here are a few explanations I have heard:
• Hospitals are eating the costs of those without health insurance coming into emergency rooms. Anyone who has had to pay an emergency room bill understands this. In order to make up the losses, hospitals have to raise prices elsewhere.
• Drug, device and other medical product companies are engaged in price gouging. Again, in order to pay for such high prices, hospitals and clinics have to raise prices elsewhere.
• A lack of malpractice tort reform has resulted in higher and higher malpractice insurance premiums for doctors, which increases the salary demands hospitals and clinics need to pay, which again, forces hospitals and clinics to increase prices.
Fear of malpractice, I have heard, also prompts many doctors to order tests that aren’t always necessary.
• Older Americans on Medicare are getting expensive surgeries and procedures, and Medicare does not fund hospitals and clinics enough to pay for them. Thus, hospitals and clinics charge the rest of us to make up the difference.
• Administrative inflation. I have heard things like a lack of electronic records and a bureaucratic system as culprits for the massive costs.
• In general, America is getting older and more obese, and older, more obese people in general have more health problems than younger, non-obese people do.
• The nature of insurance. When you think a car or lawn mower is too expensive, you shop around, because the money comes out of your pocket. If insurance is paying for something, you don’t worry about it at best, and glaze over it at worst.
Of course, there are many other theories as to why health care, and health care insurance, is so expensive.
So I say to the Republicans out there so stridently opposed to “ObamaCare,” I put my hands in the air and ask you to solve the issue for me.
Make my and everyone else’s health insurance premiums and my co-pays cheaper, and make sure that everything health-care related gets covered.
But you better make sure your grandmothers don’t get short-changed on coverage. And you can’t make anyone who doesn’t want health insurance — even though they might need it someday — buy it.
And you have to ensure that, by making health care cheaper, you don’t put clinics, hospitals and every other company that provides health care products or services out of business.
Good luck with that.
Someone who has leaned Republican said to me the other day, “I’m not sure there is a solution.”
I can tell you this — if politics can’t be taken out of the equation, then I guarantee there won’t be one.
Joel Myhre is The Journal’s publisher. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org