augusta free press news

Constance Birch: Health care costs

Who should pay for health care? How can we bring down the cost of health care? If your employer pays for your health care, I am happy for you.  If you think that each of us should pay for his/her own health care, you need read no further.

Fewer employers are offering health care and those that do are asking employees to pay higher costs each year. The cost of individual health care is beyond the  reach of most individuals and families. The cost of health insurance for public employees is a very big item in state and federal budgets.

So it is in the interest of most of us to reduce the cost of health care. I believe that there are two reasons for the rising costs of health care. First, more treatments are becoming available all the time, and some treatments are very costly. Perhaps because of the threat of malpractice and the cost of malpractice insurance, doctors order more tests and treatments rather than trying to be cost effective.

Second, our health care system is for-profit. Health insurance companies are now profit driven and pay their executives and lobbyists exorbinant salaries. One would expect the proliferation of health insurance companies would provide competition and drive prices down. This has not been true.

The delivery of payment for health care is very inefficient. Regulations vary from state to state and between companies. Health care providers often do not know what services are covered until bills are submitted. Patients often have primary and secondary insurance coverage and health care providers often submit claims multiple times. (Thank goodness! Few patients could handle this alone!)

If there were a single payer and fewer lists of covered items, there would be efficiency of health care payments, which should reduce the costs. For this reason, I support single payer health care. The so-called Obama Health Care does not end the role of the many for-profit health insurance companies. And it does not address the cost of health care which is rising faster than the cost of living, except by rationing. I believe a single agency paying for health care should be able to negotiate lower costs. I believe that the medical profession could better police its own profession,  thus reducing occurances of malpractice and the cost of such insurance. I hesitate to limit the ability of the injured to sue health care providers, but unreasonable settlements could be restricted.

I propose that health care be available to all at a nominal cost.

I propose a simplified delivery system with the ability to negotiate lower costs.

I propose that goverance of a not-for-profit health care system be by a board without conflict of interest in the health care industry.

Such a health care delivery system should have incentives for healthy lifestyles.

I believe that in America, no one should have to declare bankruptcy or have fundraisers because of health care costs.

Constance Birch resides in Staunton,

augusta free press
augusta free press