LETTER: Real health care reform needed

Monday, July 13, 2009 | 1:36 p.m. CDT; updated 11:17 a.m. CDT, Thursday, September 3, 2009

Many Americans are uninsured or can only afford such minimal health care coverage that they are either going broke and having to declare bankruptcy or they die as a result of failing to get needed treatment.

We need a plan that reduces the costs by providing efficiency and investing in preventative care, to catch problems early before they are life threatening and so very costly.

The current situation is too costly for everyone — individuals, small and large businesses included.

Torte Reform is not the answer; allowing insurance companies to decide care plans instead of doctors is not the answer either.

We need Congress to pass real health care reform in 2009.


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John Schultz July 13, 2009 | 4:49 p.m.

Is your idea of "real healthcare reform" getting the government more involved?

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro July 14, 2009 | 12:12 a.m.

("We need Congress to pass real health care reform in 2009.")
What's so "real" about it?
If you want to get "real," the government should not be in the insurance business, insurance companies should not be using medical care as an actuarial device for a necessary commodity, and the AMA needs to get us back to a physician-based culture when family doctors visited homes carrying their little black bags.
Obama has it all wrong. His plan is not "reform." His plan is government control.
I suggest some "real" thinking outside the box on this one.

(Report Comment)
Peter Hinshaw July 14, 2009 | 10:05 a.m.

We've given the insurance companies plenty of time to figure out how to run the health insurance industry. They figured out how to make it profitable, but they forgot about taking care of people, and they deserve some credit for putting the economy into the ditch. The government certainly won't do any worse a job than the insurance companies are doing now. Medicare and medicaid have fewer complaints than the insurance industry.
Spending 1 of every 6 dollars of the total economy on health care is not sustainable, especially with the cost of health care sky rocketing. The US spends more on health care than the Chinese spend on ALL goods and services (including health care, food, shelter, energy, clothing...). If the French can have a system that provides basic care for everyone, then why can't the US?

(Report Comment)
John Schultz July 14, 2009 | 2:34 p.m.

If profit is so bad, should the government also offer public options for auto and home insurance?

(Report Comment)
Tim Dance July 15, 2009 | 5:12 p.m.

Bad analogy John,

If someone is denied auto insurance, they can't drive. If some is denied home insurance, they can't rebuild. If someone is denied medical care, they can die. It is immoral to profit off the sick and suffering. So yes, when denying someone lifesaving coverage to improve your loss numbers is BAD. Yes, the government should offer people health care coverage.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz July 15, 2009 | 6:33 p.m.

How many people do you know that have been denied major procedures by their health insurance provider? Personally, I don't know any and I don't think arguing based on emotion and morality is the way to go.

I've seen quotes for HSA plans (high-deductible, but low premiums) of just a couple hundred dollars a month. That's a cell phone plan and satellite/cable TV price point as Mark has pointed out here several times. Why shouldn't we expect most people to carry their own or employer insurance when it can be acquired for so cheap? Why MUST the government be involved? Government makes insurance MORE expensive by demanding companies offer more and more procedures (witness the recent kerfuffle over autism insurance in Missouri). From this recent Cato op-ed at

"New Jersey, for example, requires insurers to cover a wide range of procedures and types of care, including in-vitro fertilization, contraceptives, chiropodists and coverage of children until they reach age 25. Those mandated benefits aren't cheap. According to a 2007 analysis by the National Center for Policy Analysis, the cost of a standard health insurance policy for a healthy 25-year-old man averaged $5,580 in the state. A standard policy in Kentucky, which has far fewer mandates, would cost the same man only $960 per year.

Unfortunately, consumers are more or less held prisoner by their state's regulatory regime. It is illegal for that hypothetical New Jersey resident to buy the cheaper health insurance in Kentucky. On the other hand, if consumers were free to purchase insurance in other states, they could in effect "purchase" the regulations of that other state. A consumer in New Jersey could avoid the state's regulatory costs and choose, say, Kentucky, if that state's regulations aligned more closely with his or her preferences.

With millions of American consumers balancing costs and risks, states would be forced to evaluate whether their regulations offered true value or simply reflected the influence of special interests. Rep. John Shadegg (R-Ariz.) has a bill in Congress that would allow consumers to purchase their insurance in other states."

(Report Comment)
Ibelieve innewspapers July 15, 2009 | 10:49 p.m.
This comment has been removed.
kate July 16, 2009 | 3:13 a.m.

Most people are not aware that insurance policies have a lifetime maximum. While $1 to $5 million dollars may seem like a lot, it can be exhausted by one serious hospitalization and/or a chronic health condition.

I have known people who have survived cancer who have been denied coverage based on their previous health history. I have also seen many people who have come close to or exceeded the lifetime maximum. If you are poor or elderly or fit very specific criteria, you can get health care coverage through the government. If you are middle class, however, you are screwed.

Another problem we are facing is the lack of accountability for our own health. Obesity is at record levels. People elect to take chances with their health every day (smoking, excessive alcohol, unsafe personal practices). Even with education, people don't truly realize the impact of their choices until they have developed a serious health condition. Tackling these issues is just as important as ensuring access to care.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr July 16, 2009 | 5:19 a.m.

Thank you Ibelieve innewspapers for that commentary I agree with you totally. I see every month those who have to decide between food,meds and health care. It is sickening.

(Report Comment)
Tim Dance July 16, 2009 | 2:58 p.m.

John, thanks for the quotes. But I soon as I say DIABETES or some other pre-existing condition. I am DENIED coverage in a profit driven health care system. John, the market failed, sorry my condolences

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Ayn Rand July 16, 2009 | 4:46 p.m.

Kate, you are spot on about the lack of accountability for our own health. Unfortunately so far I've seen nothing in the proposed legislation that would address that problem. Unless universal health care forces people to take responsibility, costs can't be contained. For example, people who choose to be obese, smoke or abuse alcohol must either quit or pay a higher premium that reflects the full cost of their choices.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz July 16, 2009 | 6:28 p.m.

Tim, I know a few people that have diabetes who are covered by private insurance. Has this personally happened to you or are you relating something another person told you? Usually if one is covered by health insurance and switches to another plan, pre-existing conditions are covered via the HIPAA bill that was passed a few years back.

(Report Comment)
Peter Hinshaw July 17, 2009 | 12:41 p.m.

Profit is fine, but when 1 dollar out of 6 in the entire economy is spent on health care something is drastically wrong. The insurance companies own cost management in our current system and they obviously aren't getting the job done.
If the insurance industry was taking care of business health care reform would not be a national priority. Anybody who thinks the health care industry is doing fine needs to explain why 16% of the entire economy is required for health care, especially when other developed countries get it done for half while having better broad metrics of health care.
The morality of health care coverage is very important when many people (47 million) are left out because the system is geared to profit.
The health care carriers are responsible for a large part of the emotional aspect of the debate on health care. They're spending fortunes to spread fear of government health care management because they're afraid to compete with the government. They claim the government will botch the job, but that is just another fear tactic.

(Report Comment)
Tim Dance July 18, 2009 | 11:15 a.m.


COBRA is a joke. The market failed. Profiting off the suffering is immoral. Are libertarians so rigid on market based solutions that they are blind to any ethically issues?

(Report Comment)
John Schultz July 18, 2009 | 11:35 a.m.

Libertarians believe in private charity instead of government healthcare. Reduce the waste and number of government programs (especially those at the federal level that are not mandated by the Constitution), reduce income taxes accordingly, and people will have more money for their own health care and to donate to various charities as they see fit. Wonderful thought, huh? For instance, I pay extra each month on my Boone Electric bill (Columbia has a similar option as well I believe) that goes into a fund to help pay the utilities of those who are unable to and request assistance.

Did the market fail last summer when gas reached $4 a gallon? Would you have advocated for free gasoline for those people who couldn't get to work? Was that profiting off the suffering? Can you show me where the federal government is authorized to pay for someone's healthcare? In Missouri's constitution, free public education is explicitly mentioned and thus I have no problem with that. But when the federal government keeps poking its nose in various areas and spending money it (and you, and I, and my kids, and their kids) DO NOT HAVE, I get a bit perturbed at these politicians essentially buying votes.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr July 18, 2009 | 11:56 a.m.

The main problem is that private charities and 501c3's can hardly hold their own now and have had hard times in the past too.

Your logic of wanting them to pick up everything is totally flawed by the above mentioned fact.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz July 18, 2009 | 1:38 p.m.

Your ignoring my comment about lower income taxes providing people more money to donate to chairty (as well as being able to support themselves better with that extra money) is your fault, not mine.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr July 18, 2009 | 3:34 p.m.

John Schultz I do not know what world you live in but it sure is not the reality of the world as it is today nor the self centeredness this world we live in has become.

Hint: The ideal world does not exist nor will it ever in our life time.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz July 19, 2009 | 3:37 a.m.

Chuck, aren't you the one railing about complacency all the time? What is wrong about possibly moving to a better world? I didn't say that a perfect world existed (no political philosophy can do that), but I think it can be better than what we have now.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr July 19, 2009 | 4:45 a.m.

John Schultz sure it can be better but I highly doubt we will see it in our life time no matter who is in office and driving the country. That is just the reality of our society as a whole. There is far too much greed by all of the needed entities all around to make it happen John.

(Report Comment)
Tim Dance July 20, 2009 | 12:24 a.m.


Why do you keep bringing in irrelevant analogies? If I don't get gas, okay, I don't drive. If I don't get lifesaving treatment, I DIE!

Profiting off the suffering of others is immoral. Period. Your blind devotion to profit clouds your thinking. You keep giving examples that have nothing to do with health care. The market has lost the health care battle. No amount of tax cutting is going to help. We will have health care for all and I will call out each and everyone who puts profit over people as immoral.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz July 20, 2009 | 12:49 a.m.

Tim, you are the one whining about the failure of the free market, that is why I made the point I did. If you are such a good and moral person, I hope you are paying for someone else's health insurance with your own money, not tax money. Seems this discussion is over with your blind following of that specific talking point.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz July 20, 2009 | 1:14 a.m.

Hmm, after a little further thought, I guess we can put Tim in the Roy Blunt bucket as also wishing Medicaid and Medicare had not been created since there may be some evil, nasty doctors making a small profit off the reduced reimbursement rates from the government.

Tim, is it OK for ServPro and similar companies to profit off the suffering of those whose homes have been damaged by fire and smoke? Was it OK for MasterTech (and I do wonder if our local liberals boycott that company) to profit off the burst water heater I had last year? Was my former neighbor, a widow, done wrong by paying a for-profit home insurance company years and years of premiums, only to receive a new roof after the massive hailstorm from a few years back? How deep is your morality system?

(Report Comment)
Allan Sharrock July 20, 2009 | 6:18 a.m.

Shouldn't our congress enroll in the same program? I think it should be mandatory for them if it is mandatory for us.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr July 21, 2009 | 6:57 p.m.

One problem with this health care reform is how are they going to reform those who are over charging Medicaid/Medicare for things like services,walkers,canes,crutches,powered wheel chair/scooters and more.

If you go online to price these items you see the actual retail price but if you have ever looked at a bill from one of those companies charging Medicaid/Medicare you will see the price often times doubles plus more.

There is your serious fraud in the over all system that needs to be nipped in the seat of the pants first.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro July 21, 2009 | 7:57 p.m.

The health care industry needs to be reformed.
Obama is not reforming the health care industry.
He is becoming an insurance salesman.
Insurance is just another bureaucracy.
Government workers push paper. Insurance companies dole out benefits, (aka entitlements). It's a perfectly understandable fit, but highly flawed.
True changes to improve health care accessibility could look something like this:
1. Eliminating health care as an insurable commodity from insurance companies. Eliminate malpractice premiums to insurance companies as this too puts a financial burden on the industry.
2. Shift most of the responsibility of accessibility to the AMA. The AMA, directly or through Medical Schools can work out the "malpractice" issue with their accountants and attorneys concerning "risk-management."
3. Government employees manufacturing medical supply/equipment can offset the expense of health care "accessories."
4. Government employees can manufacture most medications.
(Research and development can continue with the "inventors.")
5. The government and the AMA can work together to reduce/subsidize the schooling and certification of physicians and key medical professionals.
6. Remove the military from the management of VA hospitals. Assign these hospitals to Health and Human Services and afford accessibility to vets and the indigent.
These are just a few ideas I've made up off the top of my head. I could come up with more. So can other people. It amazes me that politicians see orchestrating an insurance industry coup as their only option.
The feds already have too much debt and overspend on everything. Their current plan will only cost the taxpayer and corporations more money and heart ache.
When it comes to "reforming health care" they should be looking outside the insurance box and focus on the psyche of doctors, nurses, medical technicians, counselors and physical therapists and patients more so then on their own agenda for an all encompassing bureaucracy.
Obama is wrong on this one.
His ego, and the power crazed efforts of other political left liberal progressives, prevents him from seeing anything but that agenda.
We are all doomed.

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