Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Responsible health reform - now

It is not the health care in America that needs changing. There are great physicians and there are terrible, horrible physicians. And, as I do with my dad, anyone who cares for a vulnerable, sick person must advocate.

It isn't even health insurance in America that needs changing. Our government has allowed health insurance companies to flourish and create monopolies.

What must change is the government interference into Americans' health care and health insurance.

As consumers of health care resources and left to our own capitalist system devices, we would:

(1) Demand transparency in medical costs. That means that I would know how much a procedure will cost before I consent to it. Right now, the government permits individual insurance companies to contract with medical care providers for reimbursement rates.

Patient A and Patient B are charged different prices for the same service because the medical care provider charges based on anticipated insurance reimbursements - not the actual cost of service. That is crazy. It also opens the question up: where is the contractual duty lie - between (a) patient and doctor or (b) doctor and insurance company?

(2) Demand that bad doctors be disciplined. Bad doctors exist. Bad doctors at Duke University Hospital have repeatedly made serious and unacceptable errors and worsened my dad's health. But state medical boards typically protect bad doctors. And professional associations (like the AMA and the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons) threatened doctors who try to testify against bad doctors with sanctions and lawsuits.

I was injured by a bad orthopedic surgeon (Chris Dangles, MD) at Carle Clinic Association in Champaign IL ("bad" in the sense he testified under oath that he did not know why he performed the surgery) in the year 2000. This past week (2009), I had the eighth in a series of surgeries to help me walk normally.

My dad was brought to near death conditions at least 3 times at Duke University Hospital by hospitalists who refused to communicate with dad's Duke Clinic treating physicians. He remains at Duke because the real, Duke Clinic physicians and surgeons are phenomenal.

But all of these doctors who hurt me or my dad should receive at least a hand slap by the state medical boards. No one wants to sue a doctor or hospital. Injured patients really want to know that others will be safe at the medical facilities.

(3) Demand that state insurance commissioners stop providing a monopoly situation for the insurance companies. Each state has an insurance commissioner and each commissioner mandates certain standards and coverages from the health insurance companies. Why do the state insurance commissioners let me purchase auto insurance from a lizard and demand that I purchase health insurance within the border.

I wonder whether medical care providers, doctors, state lobbyists are responsible for the difference between purchasing health and auto insurance. BCBS of North Carolina wants everyone to be insured - by private insurers and not beyond the state borders. BCBS explain that state insurance regulations would prohibit inter-state purchase of health insurance.

But I am in Chicago and just underwent surgeries. My North Carolina based health insurer will pay on the claim for the Illinois medical services. That is inter-state.

(4) Maintain our own medical savings accounts. Why are these accounts so regulated by the government? Leave us alone and let us self insure, save for high deductibles.

The best resources for the fight against government take-over of health care:
* http://www.responsiblehealthreform.com/
* http://www.cprights.org/

This does not have to happen - we are not Europe yet!

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