Health care reform "American style": Building on a flawed system


Will the health care “overhaul” promised and endorsed by the Obama administration and currently debated in several House and Senate committees eliminate financial barriers to medically necessary care for everybody living in the United States?

You would expect so, with the over one thousand pages of the “American Health Choices Act”, one of the possible versions. However, a recent investigation by the Huffington Post Fund indicates otherwise. The report is well worth reading (and their video clip well worth watching) and pondering about. It shows some remarkable scenes that one would only expect to find in a poor, war-torn country.

And the failure of this latest version of “health care reform American style” was confirmed by the Congressional Budget Office, that estimated a best case scenario of some 17 million uninsured (“only” 5%!) remaining under the system.

Why so?

Because the Democrats’ reform is built on the assumption that the only way to pay for health care is to build on a flawed system, and have people buy (or worse, force them to buy!) policies marketed by for profit insurers, whose goal is that of any other business, i.e., to make a profit selling a commodity — health insurance. So the proposals coming out of Washington, all of them without exception, leave for-profit insurers at the center of the system — hence require unbelievable contortions to make ends meet for all of us, even as they pathetically fail to do so.

Is there any alternative to this nightmare?

Of course there is. It is to pool risks and resources, as every other industrialized economy does, get profit out of the provision of medically necessary care, and create a social insurance, single payer system. Under this system, all medically necessary services, whatever Americans decide them to be, will be paid out of a single public fund, into which all of us will contribute a predictable percentage of our income (that will replace all our current health care expenses), while care will be provided by private, non-profit health care providers and establishments.

The steam for such a system is building. It is up to all of us to now allow legislators to take a peaceful summer vacation while millions of Americans are suffering. We can call them throughout the summer and demand that single payer be considered in the House (this was articulated in Representative Anthony Weiner’s amendment — only thirty pages! Click here for a video clip)

Yes, we can!

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11 Responses to “Health care reform "American style": Building on a flawed system”

  1. 1Lila Greene

    Claudia, (by the way, my name is Lila, not “Lily”)

    OK, you chose to reply. You could have ended the discussion, but you chose to reply.

    If, with all the advanced education under your belt, you would disagree that Obama and especially the individuals he surrounds himself with, not only in the White House, including many of his so-called “Czars” and those who influenced him early in life, you cannot recognize his ideology as radical-leftist, then you have been hopelessly indoctrinated and are clueless. Therefore, I take this opportunity to address you as you suggested: NAPOLEON. Your word, not mine. (Funny you mentioned that name. He’s heading for his Waterloo.)

    Meanwhile, my fellow conservatives and I will sit back and continue to watch as your Messiah (aka The One) self destructs. He gravely misjudged Americans like me. It’s only just begun.

  2. 2Claudia Chaufan

    Dear Lily,

    If this administration is “radical left wing”, then I am Napoleon (I am quite certain that I am not!).

    If you reject empirical, testable evidence, and rely only on your (or somebody else’s) personal intuitions to conclude your beliefs about the world, then I would suggest you ponder about the years during which humanity believed that the world was flat, relying on similar intuitions. With time and scientific thinking, we realized that it is not.

    Let me also suggest that when a doctor recommends a treatment, he or she relies, or should rely, on testable evidence, rather than on mere personal intuitions. Intuitions do not get FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approval. I am not saying that intuitions are worthless, but they have a place in human affairs, and health care is not one of them. And it is not intuitions that put humanity on the moon.

    Take good care.

  3. 3Lila Greene

    Claudia, I’m not so much disappointed in you as I am baffled.

    I’m not into “empirical (testable)” evidence and also don’t wish to engage in “mere discursive battles” (at least not at the moment). I am an everyday, middle-class American whose common sense and intuition is more valuable than any advanced degree could provide. And that common sense and intuition tells me that in this great healthcare debate, the last thing our great country needs to allow happen is for this radical left-wing administration to lead us away from our free market economy (choices) to a socialized, single-payer, government-run (call it what you will) healthcare plan. Eventually, that’s what we’d end up with. It’s undeniable, and you can’t refute it.

    Enough is enough. The administration is losing the debate. Look at the polls. Even read Paul Krugman today. How the Dem’s have damaged themselves. Obama has dug himself into a hole and has only himself to blame. Question is, how will he get himself out of this conundrum without compromising his own values? He’d be compromising himself and he won’t do that.

    This is more of a rant and I appreciate the opportunity. No reply is expected.


  4. 4Claudia Chaufan

    Lili, you did not at all hurt my feelings, so no need to apologize. I am just waiting for you to produce an argument, about the “dangers-of-socialized-medicine-in-communist-countries-like-the-UK”. What I mean by argument is simply what we all learn at school: a set of claims connected by good logic and backed up by relevant reasons and empirical (testable) evidence. Then I could reply to it, because that is what I enjoy and I am trained to do. And of course friendliness, i.e., a nice tone, never hurts — how could it.

    I have no interest in mere discursive battles, much less if they are unfriendly. One rarely learns anything from them and personally, I find them a waste of my time, which is scarce and very precious.

    Sorry to have disappointed you.

  5. 5Lila Greene

    I’m disappointed in you, Claudia. Once someone really challenges your ideas head-on, you retreat, because you don’t feel the conversation is “friendly” enough. I thought it was friendly. Did I hurt your feelings? If so, I apologize.

    Maybe you should limit your portal to “Members Only”.

  6. 6Claudia Chaufan


    When you are prepared to have a friendly conversation I will be happy to follow through. I am very eager to share my background in health care systems with anybody who sincerely wants to learn about this topic.

  7. 7Lila Greene

    It’s good to hear from you, Claudia ! Also good to hear you’ve been out in the field investigating other countries’ socialist government-run health care systems. Were you in Communist Cuba this time? Maybe the U.K. or Canada, where people wait months for routine, and sometimes, life-saving surgery. It doesn’t really matter whether it’s Canada or the U.K. Rationing is a disaster. And you would tolerate that here?

    It makes sense that you wouldn’t like Obama’s plan, as written, because of those greedy for-profit insurance companies and their so-called “failed product”. It appears that you’d rather see government guarantee health care for all. At whose expense, Ms. Chaufan? Higher taxes for all, especially the “rich” ones?

    Please cite your source for stating the “60%” who wish the government to “guarantee” health care for “all.” I’m not aware of that statistic; rather the opposite.
    Taiwan’s single-payer system as an example? Apples and oranges. If it’s so attractive, why hasn’t the media been all over it? I closely follow the issue and I’ve never heard or read a word about their system.

    America will sort it out and fix what’s wrong with our system without the heavy-hand of the federal government. Already lording it over the financial system and auto industry, they can’t wait to get control of healthcare. Then, what’s next? Energy, no doubt. Off to a good start they are, with companies like GE’s CEO Immelt in the President’s hip pocket.

    I’m familiar with Rep. Weiner’s amendment. It’s as dead on arrival as the public option and/or co-operatives (which are nothing but a trojan horse).

    Where are all the concerned citizens demanding single-payer? Not many showed up for the town-hall meetings around the country. Maybe they know they’re outnumbered. The President must be losing his touch.

  8. 8Claudia Chaufan

    Dear Lila,

    My apologies for not replying sooner (I am out of the country, in one of those “industrialized economies” that socialize insurance, pay a fraction of what we do, have the luxury of free choice of physicians — not “out of network” nonsense–, and will never, never allow you to go bankrupt or die because you cannot pay a medical bill).

    But, I must say that I could not agree more with you about President’s Obama’s plan: it is a recipe for disaster, but not for the reasons you offer.

    I do not oppose the president’s dream plan because it is a “step towards single payer”. Rather, I oppose it because it is a bridge to nowhere, for reasons that i have laid out elsewhere, and many others more competent than me have as well (Drs. David Himmelstein and Steffie Woolhandler’s have written excellent analyeses of this topic).

    The extraordinary complexity of Obama’s dream plan, that Congress is writing up, is, in my modest opinion, geared to keeping at the center of our system a proven failed product, for profit private insurance, at an extraordinary cost to taxpayers (multiple epicycles of subsidies, public program expansions, “connectors”, regulations, a mandate, and even “waiver” for those who cannot afford a policy despite all the epicycles).

    And his co-ops will at best keep some of us out of the water, yet sooner or later follow the way of the Blues in the mid 20th century, or of many early 20th century charitable hospitals in the UK, that were unsustainable. Put another way, his plan will be put to its knees, not by the opposition of some ordinary Americans (let me note that many other ordinary Americans like you, at least 60%, really want government to guarantee health care for all, not for “close to all”, as Obama’s plan promises).

    If you are really interested in knowing what happens in Canada, I recommend you talk to Canadians (I have friends or even family to recommend), or better still, check the World Health Organization for reliable health indices. I also highly recommend you read about Taiwan’s single payer system, that even pays for Chinese medicine at a mere 5% of your paycheck, with full free choice of doctors and no waiting lines (the Taiwanese were smart enough to copy the successes of others).

    And any time, I would be more than happy to offer further suggestions about reliable sources of information about health care systems, with fewer stakes in the matter than the National Post.


    Dr. Claudia Chaufan

  9. 9Lila Greene

    Dr. Anderson, Canada’s single-payer system is nothing to be proud of. Perhaps you missed these news items:

    The CMA’s incoming president, Anne Doig, said recently, “our health-care system is “imploding.” and acknowledges their current universal public system is “unsustainable”.

    You say you see the enormous problems caused by our current system? Perhaps you do. No system is perfect. Why you and your fellow progressives insist on rationing healthcare (which we already have, to a degree) is beyond comprehension.

    President Obama and fellow progressive democrats have been brought to their knees by the overwhelming opposition of everyday Americans (like myself) to the “public option”, which would eventually result in just what you espouse – a single-payer system run by the federal government. It will never happen here, even if it takes a revolt to ensure it. The president insists he will “fundamentally re-make America.” His vision of America (and maybe yours) is not mine.

    With all due respect, Dr. Anderson, if you so prefer and wish to work under the single-payer, government-run healthcare system, wouldn’t you be happier in one of those industrialized countries you referred to? And don’t say you want to stay here and change the U.S. system into one. Because we won’t let you and others like you.

  10. 10bronxdoc

    Dear Ms. Greene, It is possible that the idea of a single-payer system in the US is utopian. On the other hand, it is the system adopted by the Canadians. Most industrialized countries have some state-sponsored system to guarantee all citizens access of health care. The US is very much an outlier with respect to our health care system. In my daily work as a clinician I see the enormous problems caused by the current system and the damage it causes the people I care for. I feel I don’t have much personal choice except to advocate for a more humane system. Matt Anderson, MD

  11. 11Lila Greene

    My dear, your utopian dream of a single-payer system will never see the light of day. And any idea of a health-care co-operative is nothing but a Trojan Horse.

    Keep on dreaming. Better yet, why don’t you set up shop in one of those “other industrialized” economies? Think of all the “good” you can do.

    We’ll never surrender to your ideals. NEVER !

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