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Medicare for all
Original post made
by Marvin and Alison Lee, Community Center,
on Mar 12, 2007
re Our recent discussion here of Medicare as a model for National Health Insurance consider this news item.
March 9, 2007
California Nurses Association/NNOC Joins AFL-CIO
following Endorsement of Single Payer Healthcare,
Affiliation Unites 325,000 RNs in Federation
The California Nurses Association, and its national
arm, the National Nurses Organizing Committee was
granted a charter Thursday to join the AFL-CIO, uniting
325,000 registered nurses into the leading voice of
America's working people. CNA/NNOC represents 75,000
RNs in all 50 states.
Significantly, the affiliation came two days after the
Federation adopted a sweeping new healthcare policy
statement endorsing a single-payer type system premised
on 'updating and expanding Medicare benefits' to all
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Posted by citizen
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 14, 2007 at 7:01 am
People seem to have no trouble using an occasional scare anecdote about other systems, but try to rattle off the vast majority who have great experiences, and suddenly the anecdotes don't count.
If you want to get educated about how much better and cheaper many healthcare systems are around the world now than ours, use Google, it's not hard. Anecdotes do have bearing, because statistics are one thing, but if you want to really get a sense of how far we have slipped, try talking to people from other countries about what kind of care they get and for how much, and you'll really wish we'd fix our system. People from other countries can't believe what is going on here.
The World Health Organization rankings in 2000 put the US at number 37, behind Norway, Austria, Japan, Singapore, Italy, France, etc., though not behind Australia interestingly (though I wonder if that would change now, seven years is a long time in the downward spiral we are on; probably their ranking also is affected by their not dealing so well with Aboriginal populations). We are #37 on that list in care, but we spend by far the most on healthcare. Web Link
As far as other people coming to this country for care, an article in Reader's Digest recently pointed out that our country USED to be the leader in "medical tourism" -- which USED to mean people coming from other countries for our better care. The article pointed out that we have all but lost that business to other countries like Singapore and Switzerland, where the care is just as or more advanced and cheaper. Now "medical tourism" means Americans going to other countries where they can afford the care.
There's a far more serious problem looming, and that is when we have lost our reputation as a leader in the rest of the world (and that is coming), we will suffer far more serious economic hits (in various medical product arenas, e.g.) that will be hard to regain. We have all but taken our reputation for granted, but the rest of the world does not see us through the same rose-colored glasses. At what point do we wake up and smell the roses?
Even by your statistics, 70% of Australians don't bother carrying any supplemental insurance, the vast majority. Your point says nothing about how many of the small percentage who do carry insurance actually use it. PLUS (more importantly), private insurance in Oz is not the same thing as private insurance here. They have tight regulation and insurance actually has to live up to its contract. In this country, insurance was deregulated on the federal level, oh, just coincidentally right before our system started going to the birds.
A Public Citizen study in 2003 pegged annual administrative waste in our system at around $300 billion annually, most of it because of private insurance. It's "waste" from the public's perspective, but insurers don't spend a dime they don't benefit from. They get a windfall from delaying and denying care, which they accomplish through the paperwork, so the efficiencies of the private sector are feeding the paperwork nightmare because there is no realistic competition when it comes to DELIVERY of insurance. The incentives are all wrong. It's an insane way to finance and administer healthcare. More frightening still, if they are spending $300 billion annually on administrative shenanigans for that windfall, how much more is that windfall costing us?
Meanwhile, we have half of all personal bankruptcies caused by health costs, the majority of those people had insurance at the start of the bankrupting health condition, yada yada.
That said, I'm not sure I'd like to see a single payer system. However, transitioning to a single-payer system has an advantage I think most people don't realize -- that is, once the racket (mainly private insurance) is gone from the health care system, the system will be far more amenable to change, gradual improvement efforts, and adjustment. Right now, every attempt to improve things for the public threatens the extreme profits of the racket. It's all but impossible to make improvements, because what is in our interests is at odds with those who are making the most money (by not providing care). If we had a single-payer system that needed tweeking to improve it for the benefit of the public, there's nothing stopping the private sector from bringing those improvements. Then the incentives would be to improve the system for the benefit of those is serves.
But, I think the odds of the above happening are about zero. Things will probably have to just continue to get so bad in this country that there finally is a "revolution." Those benefitting most from the conditions that spur a revolution almost never believe it's coming.