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True HMOs could fix health care system

Thursday, March 20, 2008 | 10:00 a.m. CDT; updated 11:50 a.m. CDT, Thursday, September 3, 2009

Appalled: That is probably the nicest thing I can say about state Rep. Steve Hodges’ (D-East Prairie) proposal to force the insurance industry to pay for fertility treatments. This meaningless legislation is consuming the valuable time, energy and resources found under the Gray Dome in Jefferson City. It is yet more proof that our legislators are failing to take the brave initiative to develop a comprehensive health care program to cover all Missourians regardless of the economic or age criteria.

Knowing that there will be some who do not think I know what I am talking about, let me provide a bit of my authority. I spent seven years with the Colorado Division of Insurance, 15 years teaching and developing insurance professional development and consumer awareness programs, and I am author or contributing editor of more than a dozen textbooks, many on health insurance. Enough said.

I had the honor of listening to former governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee last week speaking to the roles of the individual and government in wellness and health care. For those who didn’t attend this Columbia College lecture series, you would have been amazed that Huckabee sounded as liberal as he did conservative. And though I did not agree with everything he said, I came away with a smile, knowing he too sees the crisis with clear and open eyes.

Let me start with an issue that is bound to fray some nerves: universal health care. Huckabee supports universal health care — he said so. I am a fan of the idea, a single-payer plan with supplemental insurance available for those who wish to keep a distance from the “riffraff,” not the plans being promoted by the current political candidates requiring individuals to work with the insurance companies but real universal health care allowing individuals to work with their doctors.

Huckabee also opened the door as to why universal health care will not work — the lifestyle we demand as our “right” and the belief that we can live anyway we want and expect others to pay for our high-risk lifestyle. We smoke, drink to excess, eat portions that make us border on gluttony, do not exercise and show no care for the consequences. We are not taking responsibility for our own lives and are wasting taxpayers’ money. Until we do take responsibility, the cost of health insurance will continue to soar and, as Huckabee warned, our life expectancy will falter. Our children will not live as long as our parents.

Health insurance is not a social program, it is a business. Yet insurers have lost the vision of the “new” type of health coverage begun in the 1980s — Health Maintenance Organizations and the idea that it costs less to get and stay healthy than to fix the problems once and if discovered. Today, insurers promote treatment, not health or lifestyle changes, forcing an ever-accelerating cycle of health care costs. Mind you, it is not the only reason, but it is one of the primary reasons.

Our legislators need to re-establish true HMOs, addressing healthy lifestyles and habits, health checkups and preventative care, while requiring insurance premium discounts for participating. Our legislators need to address the obesity problem in the lower economic tiers by, as Huckabee suggested, restricting food assistance programs to healthy choices and less useless calories and returning physical education to our schools. Our legislators need to establish a universal health care claim forms and classification system so that the majority of workers in a doctor’s office are not there to complete paperwork. Our legislators need to establish universal access to basic medical care, regardless of age, economic status or any other criteria, while addressing the ever-decreasing number of health care providers in Missouri.

California and Massachusetts have established forms of universal health care. It is now Missouri’s turn and our legislators need to take the risk. It is for the health of our citizens and the state.

 

David Rosman is a business and political communications consultant, professional speaker and college instructor in communications, ethics, business and politics. He welcomes your comments at ProfDave1011@netscape.net.

 


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