Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Fixing a broken system

Our economy is broken. Everybody is aware of this fact. Unemployment is rising because people are not buying as much as they used to, businesses are sinking; lay offs and hiring freezes are inevitable.
Rising taxes are also inevitable, but the tax system itself needs a major overhaul. Loopholes that enable the very wealthy to avoid paying an equitable share of taxes must be closed. Wasteful government spending must be addressed and dealt with.
This is the legacy Barrack Obama has inherited. He is doing an amazing job, but to be fair, he doesn't have a magic wand to wave over the nation to fix everything that has been breaking down for many years.
Think about the government and the economy as if it were a car. If you maintain that car, changing the oil regularly, replacing worn belts, adjusting brakes and changing break pads, checking and adding fluids when necessary, it will run smoothly, without the expense of major repairs. It will cost a little to maintain, of course, but you will avoid high cost repair bills. Putting a fresh coat of paint on to pretty it up isn't going to make it run better. It will just be a nice, shiny hunk of junk. Our leaders have been putting fresh coats of paint on our system and ignoring the internal problems for so long that the repairs are going to be costly, with no guarantee that the government engine will ever run the way we hope it will.
We have entered a new age and what is broken may have to be entirely replaced with something that works better. That's scary, but change comes with a price.
I predicted back during the Reagan administration that if healthcare was not fixed, we would be facing what we are now.
Insurance companies and the medical business have created a monster. Here is an example that hit me directly. When my doctor prescribed a wheel chair, the insurance company decided that it should be a rental. The original cost of the chair was just under $2000. To date, the medical supply company has received over $6000 in rental costs, three times the original cost of the equipment. Medical billing must be addressed. Insurance companies are passing these extra costs on to consumers. It is not individuals who are the problem. It is the medical business and the insurance business, who, in their greed have forgotten that everything has a price. Wasteful spending is wrong. It costs us all. If you have been hospitalized, the cost of everything used during your stay is far above the cost to the medical facility.
Socialized medicine would curb the out of control billing by the medical community.
It is not communism or socialism. It is simply the right thing to do. When people are victims of uncontrolled medical costs, it ends up costing us all in the long run.
I don't believe we all should be receiving free, unlimited medical care. I do believe that a low cost, government run system would ultimately put insurance companies and the medical community in check, and end the profiteering that we have all faced for so long.
Should the medical community be allowed to profit and prosper? Certainly~but isn't a 300% profit a little steep? Should private insurance companies be allowed to profit and prosper? Certainly. But shouldn't they be made aware of the costs they incur on our behalf and made to address over billing more equitably? Insurance premiums are rising rapidly and the benefits are shrinking. We need to join the rest of the civilized world and end the joy ride of the medical/insurance industries.

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