I have been asked by numerous people about my view of the recently passed health care reform law.
First, as someone who tends to lean more to the conservative side, I have always been leery of a government-run health care system, because I feared that “big brother”’ would come between and interfere with the important concept of the doctor-patient relationship. I have very serious concerns about what could happen to the quality of medical care in such a system.
In reality, the government already provides health care for a significant percentage of the population in this country through Medicare, Medicaid and the Veterans Affairs health program. Whether these systems are the best they can possibly be is a matter of opinion.
Given the fact of the existing level of government-run insurance, I think the best scenario would be that the majority of us not covered by the government would continue to obtain private health insurance and that such insurance would be affordable and be made more competitive, compassionate and cooperative.
I am of the opinion that our health care system is one of the best in the world, but it has had its major problems.
One problem was that, although the majority of U. S. citizens had health care coverage, millions of people did not. This seems to have been remedied by the new law, which should really be called a “health insurance reform law,” because health insurance coverage was its main objective.
Another problem with our system is that the rate of national spending on health care is staggering and unsupportable. It cannot continue its pace without bankrupting our economy.
The new law has done nothing to lessen the rapidly increasing cost of health care — in fact, I fear it will increase spending, adding to the national deficit.
No political party until now has achieved this level of change in an attempt to improve our health care system, even when it was well-known that changes were necessary. I see this new bill as a step in the right direction, even with its flaws, because it will force us — patients, providers and government — to make important changes. Time will tell how well it works.
The things I like most about the new bill are:
• It provides expanded health insurance coverage for those who have none.
• It ends health insurance company abuses, such as denials based on pre-existing conditions or the ending of coverage after one becomes ill.
• People who are satisfied with their health insurance plans can keep them.
• It allows parents to continue coverage for their children up to age 26.
My concerns about the new bill are:
• The cost to implement this bill will be staggering and will be unable to be supported by increased taxes on the wealthy and the proposed “Medicare savings.” This will lead to increased taxes for all or a restriction of health care.
• Those who have health insurance, both private and Medicare, will pay higher premiums to cover the expanded care provided by the new bill.
• Although the law has provisions to increase the number of primary care doctors, there will not be enough providers for the millions of new patients seeking care.
• There is no provision to decrease the rapidly escalating cost of medical care, which, if not brought under control, could be disastrous for our economy.
The bottom line as I see it is that something needed to be done to shake up the health care system to provide for its long-term healthy existence. The new bill has major flaws, but it is a beginning to promote the necessary changes.
Now, what is absolutely imperative is to develop a plan to rein in the cost of health care. In my next column, I will share my thoughts on how to bring this about.