Monday, June 8, 2009

Don't Pull the Trigger

The National Education Association (parent group of DSEA) is part of the Health Care for America Now (HCAN) coalition. The group advocates health care access for all. HCAN sent an appeal to Delaware today to lobby Senator Tom Carper.

Senator Carper is proposing a "trigger" proposal, effectively in opposition of health care advocates and the Obama Administration. The idea of the trigger proposal is that public health insurance would not be offered as an option as long as private insurers provided choices of plans in each state. It is strictly a market solution.

Senator Carper should stop and consider a few things about his market solution: First, the market has not improved either access or costs for decades. Health care costs are now 17% of gross domestic product and are predicted to be 20% of GDP by 2017. That is a staggering cost burden for a nation.

Second, private insurers offering a choice of plans happens now and does not provide anything approaching universal coverage because of the affordability factor.

Third, competition among the more than 1,000 health insurers has only added to costs because of layers of bureaucracy and profit making. The costs of these insurers take about 25 cents out of every health care dollar.

Fourth, health care does not compete by price, but by other factors such as quality, perceived quality, and location. When was the last time you saw a hospital running a sale on appendectomies?

Fifth, there are no health care consumers, there are only patients. This difference is crucial. A consumer buys services or products based on both need and want, is directly involved in the choice of the product or service and is in a position to bargain over price.
A patient is driven to the service by need. Many times the need is acute further reducing any choices. For example, when laying prostrate in an ambulance is a patient in a position to say, "Don't take me to St. Mary's, that place is too expensive. Drive me over to General"? A patient is told by a doctor the treatment needed that includes tests, medications, procedures, hospitalization, etc. The patient is not in the position to say, "Hey, Doc let's try a double bypass instead of the triple". Common sense and shared experience tells Americans they have very little control over the cost of their health care.

The market has made a health system that restricts access because of price. Around 50 million Americans have no health insurance and that number grows daily as people lose their jobs in the recession. Senator Carper's "trigger" proposal will only delay, once again, the long over-due reform of health care in America. Most of the world moved to universal health care plans after World War II.

We need real health care reform that includes access to a public insurance plan. You may wish to call Senator Carper and tell him so:
Wilmington 573-6291
Dover 674-3308
Georgetown 856-7690
Washington, D.C. (202) 224-2441

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