The facts: Socialism and U.S. healthcare
As a physician practicing in the area for over a decade, I had to respond in conscience to the recent editorial referring to healthcare for the poor. In order to make any decision as a populace, we must first have the facts. There were many misleading statements and few facts in Mr. Timothy Parker’s recent essay.
I can start with just the title at first, “Poorest Entitled to Healthcare in U.S.”
First and foremost, no one is “entitled” to any benefits not listed in the Constitution. We may vote democratically to add benefits (Medicare, Social Security, housing) but no one is entitled.
Secondly, and more pertinently, we HAVE health insurance for the poorest. It is called Medicaid.
Many do not understand the difference between Medicare (elderly and disabled) and Medicaid (poorest). There are strict low-income caps on any who apply for Medicaid. It is exclusively designed for the poor.
As far as the rest of us,there is no doubt that there is a problem with healthcare in the U.S. However, to say that there are 50 million people without “healthcare” is misleading. There are 50 million without “health insurance.”
Anyone who is ill can go to an emergency room and receive care; and of those 50 million, how many are between the ages of 20-35 who would choose not to buy insurance even if they had the financial means?
A healthy 26-year-old can get insurance for about $150 per month. Would that person choose to pay for insurance, or put part of that toward his iPhone bill?
Looking at the numbers, there are about 25 million people who need health insurance who can’t afford it. That is about 7 percent of the U.S. population.
What the Affordable Care Act (ACA) did was revamp the entire system for only 7 percent of the population.
It put control of our personal health decisions in the hands of the federal government. Regardless of whether it is the government directly or the insurance exchange, the ultimate power of what health services are covered, how much is paid, and what services can be offered comes from the Secretary of Health and Human Services.
The U.S. Preventative Task Force is the federal government’s public health screening arm. Under President Obama this task force has recommended that NO man of ANY age should ever be screened for prostate cancer. They also recommend that no woman under 40 without risks should get a mammogram and after age 50 every OTHER year.
To most doctors this is unconscionable. What about those who agree with Obamacare? Do you follow those guidelines? Does Mr. Parker? The real question is what will happen in 2014 when the federal government takes control of those decisions for you and your doctor?
The ACA/Obamacare was not passed “with great compromise” as inferred. Not a single Republican in the House voted for it. It is modeled after “Romneycare” in Massachusetts, however, and this year the governor of Massachusetts is attempting to pass a $20 billion cut to their program because of the losses.
Last year Massachusetts tried to pull legal immigrants from the insurance pool, but they were denied by their own state supreme court.
Looking at socialized medicine worldwide, we see a similar picture. Most socialized nations have the same rate of increase in health expenditures as the U.S., they just have a lower starting point.
These starting points are falsely low as a result of their health insurance and retirement systems not being included in expenses because the governments are responsible for retirement.
It would be similar to United Healthcare or Blue Cross Blue Shield not having to pay for a human resource department and 401k plans.
Most importantly, we have to look at quality of care for those who are sick. In Canada, the death rate from breast cancer is about 10 percent higher than in the U.S. For colon cancer it is about 7 percent higher.
I have had Canadian patients inform me wait times for elective hip replacement is 13 months. Right now I have a patient whose sister has a herniated back disc and is on chronic medication whose wait time for surgery is 15 months. She is attempting to get a surgery here in the U.S.
Canada is worse than most of Europe, but not by much. In Britain they deny certain seniors dialysis, which leads to certain death. Longer wait times, less care — and this is before austerity measures.
What we all must understand is that there is no magic bullet. If we choose socialized medicine, it is not only the doctors and hospitals that suffer, but also the patients. Some bureaucracy that “knows best” will decide what is right for us.
On the other hand, if we choose a market-driven system, there will be those who fall between the cracks of care. For those there is charity care — free medication and free services with a little investigative work.
All major pharmaceutical companies will give free medications to those with low incomes, including the working poor.
Right here in Fayette there is the Fayette Care Clinic and the Take Care Clinic for low- or no-income persons. There are often delays and changes in charity care but those are not much worse than we see in socialized care elsewhere.
Medicare is available for those who become disabled at younger ages.
If we say we are following Judeo-Christian beliefs, will we be able to live up to our responsibilities with donations of time and money? If not, will we choose “forced conversion” where the taxes of ACA/Obamacare are used against our will to fund second-tier healthcare for all? This is what this next election will decide.
I have presented hard facts and personal experiences. Mr. Parker has provided vague facts and innuendos. Whom should you believe?
This is the information age. I challenge everyone to research these facts using reputable sources. Please educate yourselves — your life depends on it.
Anthony F. Lawson, M.D.
[Dr. Lawson is associated with Starr’s Mill Internal Medicine located on Ga. Highway 74 just south of Peachtree City.]