After several months of work, the Senate Finance Committee produced a bill and proudly announced today that it has neither reduced the cost of healthcare for Americans, nor achieved universal coverage. They crafted a 1,300-page bill that effectively increases the cost of healthcare for the majority of the 83% of Americans who currently have health insurance and reduces services to many Medicare recipients, while providing more affordable healthcare access to approximately half the uninsured. If you need financial help, then consider getting these cash loans.
The initial stated purpose of healthcare reform was to reduce healthcare costs for Americans. Politicians stated that increased insurance premiums have prevented real wage growth and American businesses can’t compete because of the high costs of healthcare. Americans were told that the current situation is unsustainable, that healthcare is in crisis and we must act now. Doing nothing was no longer an option. As the debate evolved, the crisis shifted from controlling the high healthcare costs, to overall healthcare reform, to health insurance reform, while all the while any astute observer understood that the only real goal was to achieve universal coverage. It appears that the Senate took its eye off the ball and became more interested in achieving universal coverage than reducing the rising cost of health insurance to all Americans, which is the very crisis they claimed they set out to address. In the end, the Senate bill neither reduces the cost of healthcare for the majority of Americans, nor does it provide universal coverage.
To be clear, cost is and remains the central problem in healthcare; controlling costs is the essential first step to providing better healthcare and access to more people. Unfortunately, the government has once again elected to spend more money and not control costs. In fact, the stated cost of their reform efforts is 829 billion dollars, and this is somehow justifiable because it is budget neutral? It is only budget neutral because the government elected to raise the revenue it needed to cover the new costs by imposing new taxes and fines. It’s hard to see where in these bills the cost of insurance or healthcare has been reduced for anyone except the uninsured. Total health spending in the U.S. is currently > 2 trillion dollars; 16% of GDP or $25,000 per family and $7,000 for every individual and this will increase, not decrease as a result of the recent legislative efforts. Instead of wasting all the time and posturing to create these bills, if the goal was to provide insurance to half the uninsured, they could have crafted a simple one page piece of legislation that taxed everyone with health insurance a fixed amount. This is essentially what they have done and this will undoubtedly create one more government bureaucracy to administer the taxes and fines. If you have not been able to get financed, then check out these payday loans.
Fixing any one of the following problems that contribute to the highest healthcare costs in the world would have gone a long way to improving access for the uninsured without reducing benefits or increasing costs to the rest of America. Malpractice total direct costs are estimated to be 7 billion and up to an additional 80 billion in indirect costs. The total impact is estimated to be 5% of total health expenditures and none of the current bills seek to reduce these costs by one cent.
There is and continues to be an absence of real competition in the healthcare marketplace; providers simply don’t compete on price and from what we can tell, nothing has changed with the proposed legislation. Insurance reduces the concerns of beneficiaries about costs and consumers and payers have little leverage in controlling expenditures. When the government dictates what must be covered by insurance, and Medicare creates an artificial price floor which is followed by the insurance companies, all market forces that could reduce the cost of a mammogram of CT scan are effectively eliminated.
The lack of malpractice reform, the insensitivity to prices, a near absence of competition and the presence of insurance all serve as a powerful stimulus for the growth of medical expenses. From what we can tell, nothing in any of the current bills address any of these issues. The Senate has answered their call to action to address the crisis because doing nothing is no longer an option. Unfortunately, they took their eye off the ball and focused more on improving access to the uninsured instead of reducing costs, which if implemented would benefit all Americans and ultimately improve access. Doing something can be worse than doing nothing, and it remains unclear how much more of doing something this country can afford.
Charles H. Weaver MD, Executive Editor