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Revamp health care

Posted: August 8, 2009 6:50 p.m.
Updated: August 9, 2009 4:55 a.m.
Corky Cooper's letter in The Signal ("Health care needs public option," July 30, 2009) prompts me to try to clarify some serious misunderstandings.

First, everyone on America has access to health care. We either pay for a service, have private insurance, have Medicare, have Medical, are eligible for VA or rely on going to the Emergency Room.

Second, every taxpayer pays the cost one way or another. Bashing big business as "big and very, very rich" is a foolish misdirection.(On average, it costs a pharmaceutical company $1 billion to bring a new drug to market.) Insurance companies awful profits may in some part come from vigorous fraud control. The government's record here is dismal.

Third, before you throw out the baby with the bath water, look at what the public option will cost you. The present House bill will reduce the take-home pay of a worker making $70,000 per year by $5,600.

And if that worker doesn't buy the high-priced health insurance the government will mandate, is will cost that worker another 2.5 percent or $1,750. Total wage hit - $7,350. That's more than a 10-percent cut in take home pay.

Fourth, we must stop claiming that it's essential to help the 45 million to 47 million "uninsured." The number is bogus.

Sixteen million can afford it, but chose not to pay, 8.4 million are ages 18 - 25 and think their good health will last forever, 12.6 million are illegal, 9.4 million are just in-between jobs and only temporarily uninsured, 8 million children are eligible but their parents have not signed them up and 3.6 million are eligible for government programs but failed to apply.

Ninety-one percent of Americans have insurance. Eighty-four percent of those are happy with their coverage. The bill now in Congress just covers the 12 million people unable to buy insurance; that's 4 percent of our 305 million population.

Fifth, every case we can examine for confidence that our government helps shows just the opposite. Look at Canada, the U.K. or even Massachusetts. Costs grow and results shrink in every case.

Here's what we need (but Congress will never approve).

1. Allow clients to purchase insurance across state borders.

2. Cap malpractice claims to reduce doctors/hospitals costs (which are 10 percent of what we pay).

3. Do not force insurance companies to ignore pre-existing conditions. Why encourage people to wait until they are really sick to buy coverage?"

4. Set up a series of steps to allow the consumer to select their degree of coverage.

The general population should not be required pay for people who opt for sex changes, liposuction, face lifts etc.

5. Incentivize people to minimize health risk by weight control, smoking cessation and sensible preventive actions. (Safeway has a great model to do this).

Finally, never let Congress tell you taxpayers how cheap their bill will be. Medicare grew 85.5 times from 1968 to 2007; Medicaid grew 105.9 times. Back in the mid-1960s, Congress estimated that outlays for Medicaid in 25 years would be $10 billion; they actually were $107 billion.

Congress estimates were off by a factor of more than 10. Is that kind of forecasting do you as a taxpayer want?


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