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Nothing New: Same Old Story Spun Slightly Differently: Part 1


Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

President Obama’s speech on healthcare reform to a joint session of congress added nothing new to the healthcare reform debate.. It was just spun differently.

He did give a tepid nod to tort reform. Defensive medicine results from a defective tort system. The defective tort system generates between $300 and $700 billion dollars a year in excessive diagnostic testing. Lawyers and insurance companies make large sums of money from the malpractice system. The tort system adds little value to the health of citizens.

President Obama said he will set up a few demonstration projects. Government demonstration projects have not worked in the past. His tort reform projects are too few and will have little effect. Everyone knows the problem as well as the solution. Our healthcare system needs significant tort reform immediately. The President is protecting the plaintiff attorneys because he doesn’t want to take them on. They have been large contributors to Democratic Party member election campaigns.

President Obama said the “Public Option” is the best way to control costs. However, he will not have a Public Option if he gets a bill passed. He is going to try to sneak a single party payer system through the back door as Barney Frank has stated.

The President said no one will have to spend more than $5,000.00 a year in out of pocket expenses.

Who is going to pick up the costs after consumers spend $5,000.00? I assume the government will. Consumers have to buy government mandated and approved healthcare plans.

Consumers will have to pay for policies that have a 40% deductible with after tax dollars as opposed to the 20% deductible with pre-tax dollars. The Obama administration has been convinced by the healthcare insurance industry that it needs the increase in deductible percentage in order to produce a lower “affordable” premium.

Consumers, by paying with after tax dollars, will be paying 35% more for their healthcare policies and 20% more in deductibles expenses. If the tax rate goes up to 40% they will pay 40% more for both. This is a hidden increase in consumers’ taxes and a government increase in revenue.

The big winner is the healthcare insurance industry, not consumers. The healthcare insurance industry will have a greater number of people insured on its roles because of a presidential mandate that he had promised to avoid.

President Obama said he will subsidize businesses and individuals who cannot afford healthcare insurance.

Who is going to make that judgment? The government will make that judgment. He asks us to stop being skeptical and trust his administration. He will take care of consumers in the spirit that made our country great.

President Obama, how can we trust your administration with our healthcare needs when we have had experience with so much false hope from your administration in the last 8 months?

He is leaving the control of the healthcare dollars in the healthcare insurance industry’s hands. The healthcare insurance industry provides administrative services. Can we trust the healthcare insurance industry to be fair and look out for the well being of consumers? No!!

President Obama said there are almost 400 insurance companies in the nation. He claims his plan will force them to be competitive. There are only five major healthcare insurance companies (Unitedhealthcare, Aetna Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Cigna, and Humana). Most of the other healthcare insurance companies are subsidiaries of those five major companies.

There will be no competition. The administration says a “Public Option” is the only effective way to lower the costs of healthcare. It will make healthcare insurance companies compete. However the insurance industry will define the costs and the price of the government’s public option. It has done so for Medicare Part D at the expense of taxpayers and it will do it again.

Medicare Part D is another failed government entitlement whose monthly premium has gone from $14 to $37 in three years. The patient deductibles have increase and the onerous donut still exists.

In addition to increasing the premium price the government subsidizes Medicare Part D with of billions of dollars a year. I predict the premiums for the “Public Option” will slowly escalate at tax payers’ expense.

The only creative way to break this healthcare insurance industry stranglehold is to institute a system with Medical Savings Accounts. The government or employers, as providers, should give consumers first $6,000 for their healthcare needs and teach them how to spend it wisely. What consumers do not spend they keep. The second $6,000 would be used to buy high deductible first dollar healthcare coverage.

This is the only way to reduce the healthcare insurance industry’s influence and grasp on healthcare spending. Medical Savings Accounts will provide consumers with incentives to use their healthcare dollar wisely. It will also provide incentives for patients to comply with medication and treatment prescribed. America might even make serious progress combating our obesity epidemic.

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