When I started my blog I promised myself I wouldn’t talk about politics. However, since then, the heatlhcare debate went into full swing. This is an incredibly important issue to me and therefore, hard to ignore. I’ve blasted out several tweets and written some previous posts on why I think we need reform and what changes healthcare reform will bring to medical staffing. This has put me in the middle of a few debates with some people.
This week I spent some time in Canada and wrote a post about how healthcare staffing works with our northern neighbors based on the conversations I had with some people on my trip. Gregg Dourgarian of TempWorks and the staffing blog – Staffing Talk wrote a rebuttal to this post. I was going to comment back on his blog but my response grew past an appropriate length for a comment. Therefore, below is my response to Gregg’s post.
Of course it’s easy to find examples of inefficiently run government healthcare systems as Gregg’s post talks about. And yes, there are several stories of unsatisfied Canadian’s coming to the states for care, just as there are several stories of unsatisfied American’s who turn to Canada for care and cheaper medications. But lets be honest, you can also find the same inefficiencies in the private sector. It’s
fair to say that both solutions are imperfect. However, according to the stats, the vast majority of Canadian’s are satisfied with their system of care.
What about the current government run healthcare programs in this country such as Medicare, Medicaid and the V.A.? If you asked people receiving healthcare from one of these sources if they want their “government healthcare” taken away to be given private insurance instead I’d be surprised if you found any takers. When I left the military I received care from the V.A. for several years. It was some of the best, most efficient, cost effective care I’ve received to date. Everything I’ve done since with my private insurance has been a costly hassle.
In regard to my comment on “unnecessary for-profit medical centers.” Often times, private hospitals, clinics and imaging centers will establish their entities next to competing medical centers creating a shortage of staff and a glut of beds or imaging equipment such as MRI’s. This equipment and these facilities are expensive. Their cost, as well as the increased demand now created for staff increases our country’s overall healthcare costs. In addition, many of these private facilities get money from the government to start their new operations which comes from tax dollars.
These facilities are unnecessary in terms of needing more beds or care options in a particular area that already had a lack of demand. This situation has happened several times here in the Portland market causing situations of vacancy in the newly established medical center, as well as exacerbating those in the centers with which they’re competing. These new centers exist for one reason – to create profits for the individuals that establish them. While often times the newly established medical center offers lower prices and different medical options in order to compete, (thereby providing “the consumer with choice” as it was put in the Staffing Talk post), the greater cost of healthcare to society as a whole increases from these situations. You may personally save a $1 today but you’ll pay $5 tomorrow.
There’s no question that having a privately run healthcare system in the U.S. has led to major advancements in healthcare and medicine for the world as a whole. However, what good are these innovations if the vast majority of Americans (or people in the world) can’t afford them and therefore, are denied access to them? I am a big believer in keeping things private and also believe that government creates bureaucracies and inefficiencies in most things it touches. However, the private sector has been running things for years and that is why we are now in this mess. If the private sector could deliver on its promise in healthcare we wouldn’t even be having a debate.
The costs of healthcare are simply too high, the system is broken and we need a new solution. Here’s what private companies and a private healthcare system have produced for us over the last 8 years:
- Average family incomes are lower now than they were 8 years ago.
- What employers paid for workers increased by 25%, all due to healthcare costs. These costs are expected to rise by another 10% in the next year alone.
- The average cost of a health insurance policy for family of 4 from 2000 – 2007 more than doubled – from $6,000 to $13,000.
- 62% of all bankruptcies in the U.S. are caused by healthcare costs.
- We spend 50% more on healthcare than any other country and yet:
- The U.S. is 45th in the world when it comes to infant mortality – behind Cuba.
- When it comes to life expectancy the U.S. is 50th – behind Bosnia and South Korea.
- The U.S. is the only industrialized country without healthcare for its citizens.
- 47 million Americans are without health insurance, 8.7 million are children.
I appreciate the debate Gregg. And, while although I agree that most things in this country should be run by private enterprise, healthcare is not one of them.