Dublin Saab

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Friday, June 17, 2005

Timely medical care: Against the Law

Amongst us this topic pops up from time to time. As always I will happily admit there are failures in our current healthcare structure but I also feel the need to warn against the seductive call to “nationalize”. Canada is often used by the staunchest defenders of socialized medicine as a shining city, an example to be admired and carbon copied. Hopefully with this little tidbit, Canada will become instead a cautionary tale of the dangers of simply handing over your medical care to bureaucrats in Washington.
But the universal health-care system - while considered one of the fairest in the world - has been plagued by long waiting lists and a lack of doctors, nurses and new equipment. Some patients wait years for surgery, MRI machines are scarce and many Canadians travel to the United States for medical treatment.

In most Canadian provinces, it is illegal to seek faster treatment and jump to the head of the line by paying out of pocket for public care. Private health clinics have sprouted up even though they are technically illegal, though the provincial governments tend to look the other way.

How fucked up is that? I thought the idea was to make sure the “poor” had care and not compelling everyone, by law, to wait an exorbitant amount of time for that care. I guess I was wrong. As for those in Canada concerned that this ruling that will allow private insurance will lead to a two tier system they are either idiots or lying to cover up some agenda as Canada in fact already has a two tier system. Tier one are the Canadian waiting around in Canada for slow, outdated sub par care and the other tier is all the Canadians that go to the US for care.


At June 17, 2005 4:18 PM, Blogger Nightcrawler said...

I love that! I can see the "reason" behind the law. They want to make sure that the rich have as much time to die from their illnesses as the poor. The richer people can seek faster treatment, leaving the gutter trash to die while awaiting a referral to a specialist. They consider this "levelling the playing field". Amazing, isn't it?

It ignores the fact that allowing wealthier people to seek outside treatment will remove them from the line, thus speeding up the process for the poor. Besides, when you have the means to handle your own medical situations, how compassionate is it for the government to prevent you from doing so?

Can I outsource all of my "Socialized Medicine" writing to you? You seem to be able to tolerate reading/writing about it much better than I do.

At June 17, 2005 7:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Socialized medical care doesn't work, if you consider Britain and Canada. And our system has its share of flaws. I'll admit my ignorance and say that I have no idea, now, on whether there is any chance to rectify the situation.

At June 18, 2005 11:05 AM, Blogger Nightcrawler said...

fixing the system is as simple as doing away with health insurance companies.

At June 19, 2005 2:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

With all sincerity, please elaborate, NC. Again, I'm probably not well-versed enough in this field to comment, but it seems to me other problems include capitation, outrageous costs for doctors to become doctors, frivolous lawsuits, and (I know I'll step on some toes here as we are, after all, in a capitalist society) doctors who are able to make money hand over fist affording yachts and beach houses etc. while they claim they can't afford malpractice insurance and some of their clients can't afford their care.

Too bad doctors weren't required to do pro bono work, as the ABA requires/suggests all attorneys do. The AMA isn't doing its part for the people, and instead works for its membership, which I guess is fair if you're a member.

At June 19, 2005 6:06 PM, Blogger Nightcrawler said...

Fixing the problem of frivolous lawsuits is important, but the most important step in fixing our health care system is eliminating the insurance companies. I'm an insurance agent, licensed to sell life, health, property & casualty and annuities. The incestuous relationship between health care providers and the insurance companies is the chief cause of skyrocketing costs.

Hospitals and other providers charge insurance companies outrageous fees because the insurance companies have qualms about paying them. To recoup their losses, they just raise premiums. They don't dispute charges of $5.00 for a bandage or $4.00 for a bar of soap (hotel size, of course) because it makes little difference to them. They simply pass the costs right down to us.

Health Savings Accounts are the way to go. Couple these with Catastrophic Illness Coverage, and you have a great health care system. If you get sick, you pay for minor stuff like doctor visits, etc. out of pocket. This is going to reduce the amount that the doctors will charge by subjecting them to free market economics. For major occurrences, you can fall back on your catastrophic illness coverage to pick up the tab. Most of these policies are dirt cheap if you take larger deductibles.

At June 22, 2005 2:29 PM, Blogger Natalie said...

The only thing I have to add to the health care debate is that it should somehow become not-for-profit. I think when you have the motive of profitting from other people's sickness (or wellness) or misfortune, the system is likely to be corrupted. This could be through more patient loads, less attention to details, more tests, not enough tests, not explaining medication, cramming the surgery schedule, releasing people too soon, admitting them too soon, etc.

I don't know how this will ever happen though, and NC's comment about the incestuous relationship makes it seem even less likely.

At June 22, 2005 2:44 PM, Blogger Nightcrawler said...

Actually, the motive of profit will make people want to be more effective in curing disease and making people comfortable. Those who are best at it will profit most, while those who kinda suck will have to drive something like a Saab for the rest of their life.

At June 23, 2005 1:56 PM, Blogger Natalie said...

I don't think most people in healthcare are motivated by profit. And from what I can understand about medical insurance reimbursement, it doesn't sound like doctors are making the profits that they used to.

I can see your argument for research and pharmacueticals, but each person giving care only has a limited amount of time to care, so there's a ceiling to how much care they can give and also how much profit they can make (although it still may be a lot.

And, I'm not sure I even mean doctors here. I don't begrudge them high salaries since they have heavy responsibilities and lots of schooling. I think it's more the insurers that get me. What are they doing except creating more paperwork between me and my doctor and my hospital (system.)

I don't really know much about this, but one of my parents works for the Cleveland Clinic, which is non-profit, which means they have to reinvest all the profits back into the hospital. So they make them, but it goes into new facilities and technology and staff. That seems better to me, but like I said, I only know the theory of how it's supposed to work.


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