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The operation was a success, but the patient died

I do not believe that we have a health care crisis in the United States.

I do believe that we have a serious problem with the financial aspect of the health care industry.

I also believe that the biggest contributor to the health care financing crisis has been lawyers.

Personal injury lawyers like John Edwards, who can claim a large portion of the credit for crippling the obstetrics field in his home state.

The cost of health care has skyrocketed in the last few decades, while the actual income of physicians has not kept pace. In some cases, it's declined tremendously. That means that a lot of money is going into the system is getting sucked out before it reaches those who actually provide the services.

Some of it is leeched out by the personal injury lawyers, both directly (through lawsuits) and indirectly (through malpractice insurance premiums).

Some of it is sucked up by the tremendous bureaucracies instituted by the insurance companies, whose purpose is to minimize how much money gets through them to doctors and other health care providers.

Some of it goes into the increased overhead of doctors, who have to comply with zillions of regulations from health insurance companies and the government.

I have no idea what the solution is, but I have a fairly solid notion of what will NOT work.

It's been a tenet of mine that if you want something done in the most inefficient, most ineffective, most cumbersome, most expensive, and most unproductive way, have the federal government do it. (Line lifted from this posting, when I 'teased" this one.) And I do not think that our health care funding crisis is so bad that anything would be an improvement -- especially getting the federal government involved.

So when someone talks about getting "the government" to fix the health care crisis, remember the last time you dealt with the DMV or Social Security or the IRS or Immigration or any other government bureaucracy -- and imagine them being responsible for your health care.

Thanks, but I'll pass.


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Comments (55)

Liability reform will help.... (Below threshold)
kim:

Liability reform will help. These days, the practice is so regulated and supervised that an error is a systematic flaw rather than an individual one, with exceptions.
=======================

Those unlucky millions that... (Below threshold)
mantis:

Those unlucky millions that make too much money to qualify for government health care, but not enough to buy their own would probably be glad to have the government responsible for their health care.

Those lucky to be poor enough to qualify already have the government responsible for their health care, and I doubt they would want to give it up just because the government is involved.

Oh, btw, administrative costs of the Social Security Administration? 0.6 percent.

My understanding in speakin... (Below threshold)
kevin:

My understanding in speaking with a couple doctors on the subject is that the malpractice coverage is a big part of the problem, but equally significant is the health insurance companies dictating the costs for procedures and the administrative issues associated with that.

So the health care problem is attributable to, in large part, the bureaucracy of a corporation. I fail to see how this will be improved by handing the reins over to a much larger, dumber corporation...

As for malpractice insurance, etc. if I were an entrepreneur, I would start a company providing reduced cost malpractice coverage to doctors who obtain malpractice waivers (except for malpractice for extreme negligence) from all of their patients as a condition of doing business.

The solution to the other problem is to start weaning people off of the concept of health insurance (except major medical coverage). Other than doctors on a wide scale stepping up and refusing to accept insurance for routine exams, etc. I don't know how this might be accomplished.

It isn't even necessary to ... (Below threshold)
Lorie Byrd:

It isn't even necessary to look at the examples of the DMV and IRS to imagine what state run health care would be like. Look at some of the countries that have it and the long lines and inferior care that many experience in Canada and the UK. Unless I just missed it, there aren't boatloads of people trying to enter Cuba for their great health care system -- just Michael Moore and a few 9/11 workers he used as props.

It is difficult to actually... (Below threshold)
kim:

It is difficult to actually accomplish letting people sign away their right to sue.
===================================

Kevin is on target. Insuran... (Below threshold)
GeminiChuck:

Kevin is on target. Insurance should be for large ticket health items - those of us with incomes should be able to handle "normal" health costs much like we handle pet food, beauty products, etc, ie: buyer shopping. One govt role that is useful: tax breaks for Health Savings Accounts to help us with the enormous expense of normal health care. Beyond that and helping the truly needy, Govt needs to get out of the way - we must trust the market place. Once people are paying for itemized care they will shop around for good deals. The problem with HMO's (thank you Ted Kennedy!) is that they get to determine the market prices and services. Once we get to a more free market place HMO's will relegated to major health care items only. gc

Michael Moore as poster boy... (Below threshold)
kim:

Michael Moore as poster boy for healthcare reform, is like Jack Kevorkian as advocate for rational suicide.
============================

100% agree with the post. P... (Below threshold)
Scrapiron:

100% agree with the post. Politicians see dollar signs in their own bank accounts or they would not 'care' about the average Americans medical care. How many 'non' lawyers serve in congress? Just more progress toward 'all lawyers are criminals'.

I'm curious. Where in the U... (Below threshold)
TR19667:

I'm curious. Where in the US Constitution or Bill of Rights does it say "free healtcare for all"? Where does it say the govt will take care of you cradle to grave?

A sole payer system as Hillary etal envision doesn't exist today, regardless of how "poor" you are. The current medicaid system piggybacks on a competition-based system. This will disappear if socialized medicine is adopted and the good, free care many currently get will also disappear.

The point is the healthcare system is remarkable, yet the healthcare financial component is broken. If you decide to "fix" the financial component via "sole payer" aka socialized medicine, you'll destroy the healthcare system itself by eliminating competition. This technic has worked SOOOOO well everywhere else. Suppose that's why they come here for help? Maybe they just got impatient in Canada having to wait 2 months for that pesky angioplasty. Imagine an elderly person in the UK being upset they couldn't receive a life-saving heart bypass because they were "too old"? How DARE they want to live!

I've got a better idea. How about taking responsibility for your own healthcare and insurance? Sssshhhhh, it might be a secret but MANY OF US ALREADY HAVE! (my wife and I quit smoking and the money saved pays for our premiums) I know this wouldn't make many of you "feel good" by helping others, but actually might make them "feel good" helping themselves.

btw, I'm glad the admin costs of the SSA are so low. When it takes them 9 to 12 months to process a disability claim I'd hate to see them cost anymore than that.

So now Mantis can speak for... (Below threshold)
Kat:

So now Mantis can speak for 'millions'? Wow, color me impressed. /sarcasm

Jay Tea,The gov't ... (Below threshold)
Imhotep:

Jay Tea,

The gov't is already setting tighter controls for future healthcare. A policy of P4P (pay for performance) is being instituted and if your hospital or physician does not meet the "guidelines", then their re-imbursement is decreased by a set percentage.

This will in fact lead to the elderly not getting a procedure, because it may have a negative outcome, thus decreasing re-imbursements for hospitals and physicians.

I was just in a meeting discussing this very issue earlier today.

I think one of the ways to ... (Below threshold)
brainy435:

I think one of the ways to get more insured people is to gut the tax breaks for employers who provide these services and let people shop for health care the way they shop for other insurance... i. e. the free market. If I have an employer-sponsored program, I get to pick whatever insurer I want... as long as it's the one my employer has contracted with. If there was an actual market where I could get my health care through an "Allstate" or "Geico" of insurance, I would have more choice and a better chance of getting a plan that fits my medical and financial needs.

Course, then we'd have to listen to that damn gecco prattle on about THAT, too...

mantis get your old man's o... (Below threshold)
kim:

mantis get your old man's operative and pathological reports and see if there is a condition there that was not pre-existing.
================================

mantis:<... (Below threshold)
_Mike_:

mantis:


Oh, btw, administrative costs of the Social Security Administration? 0.6 percent.

What's the average rate of return on Social Security ? I've seen estimates that put it around 1.5%/year.

The expense ration of S&P500 ETF ? 0.08 percent... less than 1/7th of that which you've quoted for SS.

If the goal of SS was to provide a return on invest or to minimize over head expenses, it fails on both counts by comparison.

John Edwards, in his bid to... (Below threshold)

John Edwards, in his bid to keep his malpractice lawyer pals in business, wants to make it mandatory for you to carry health insurance. All of you. No choice.

Lawyers and lobbyists gave more to his 2000 Senate campaign than all other contributors combined. All the way from NY to California. $1.3m from lawyers and lobbyists and $.78m from all others. The healthcare industry itself gave only $76k and insurance companies of all types contributed a paltry $18k.

That should be enough to tell you where his interests lie even though his rhetoric is all couched in language telling us that it's for the American people. You know, "Two America's" and all that.

Yes there is a health care ... (Below threshold)
Paul Hamilton:

Yes there is a health care crisis. I read last week that the number of uninsured Americans has risen to 45 million. And while some will argue that even *they* will get emergency cars if it's absolutely necessary, the costs of their care are passed along to those who can pay.

The result was like something that happened to my wife several years ago. She got food poisoning and had to go to the emergency room. They gave her a saline drip to re-hydrate her and let her lie on a gurney for a couple hours for observation. Then they gave her a prescription and sent her home.

The bill -- over $1200!

Obviously that bill did not accurately reflect the services she received and so we had one of two things at work.

The first is that most folks have their insurance as part of their compensation package. They never see the money and don't know just how much it is. But those policies cover a lot, and so providers can charge just about whatever they want and the insurance companies won't complain -- they'll just keep raising their rates.

The other possibility is that she was not only paying for her nap on the gurney, but also for several of the people who were with her that night in the emergency room.

Both of these are wrong and both explain why healthcare costs continue to rise at several times the rate of inflation.

You can argue either way whether or not nationalizing healthcare would help this situation, but there's no argument that the current system cannot be maintained. More and more people will be uninsured, more and more will find themselves bankrupted by an illness or accident, and more and more will die prematurely simply because they won't get the treatment they need but cannot afford.

The US is virtually alone among advanced nations in failing to provide at least basic care or a medical safety net for it's citizens. And it's about time we caught up with the rest of the world.

A problem we've experienced... (Below threshold)
T.G. Scott:

A problem we've experienced here in West Tennessee in the past few years and just recently are physicians (usually surgeons) who have long-established practices getting busted by the feds for Medicare/Medicaid, and insurance fraud. The most recent one caught is facing prison and a $250,000 fine. I'd say it's about time. I help litigate workers' comp cases and I've seen post-op itemized bills before. $10 for a band-aid? Oh, Puuu-lease!

Paul Hamilton:<blockq... (Below threshold)
_Mike_:

Paul Hamilton:

The other possibility is that she was not only paying for her nap on the gurney, but also for several of the people who were with her that night in the emergency room.

Both of these are wrong and both explain why healthcare costs continue to rise at several times the rate of inflation.

Paul Hamilton:

The US is virtually alone among advanced nations in failing to provide at least basic care or a medical safety net for it's citizens. And it's about time we caught up with the rest of the world.

Who is able to spot the contradiction in the two statements made by Paul Hamilton made ?

From the first statement, Paul H. stated that it was wrong for one person to pay for another's healthcare.

From the second statement, Paul H. advocate government pay for everyone's healthcare. From where shall government get the wealth to pay for one person's healthcare if not from another person ?

To paraphrase a really good... (Below threshold)
DJ:

To paraphrase a really good column I read a while ago:

People seem to believe "insured" means free.

Health insurance insulates a consumer from the real cost of medicine, nearly all of us have gotten so used to having "other people" pay for most of our health care, that we demand insurance with little or no deductibles.

If car insurance worked that way, you'd be mired in paperwork everytime you did anything to your car. Fuel and maintenance prices would rise because you as the consumer wouldn't care about the price, because insurance covered it. It would invite waste, as you only end up footing a fraction of the real costs.

Insurance in general, burdens us with paperwork, invites cheating, and creates a moral hazard that distorts incentive. The first question people ask a doctor recommending tests is not "Do I really need that?" but "Does my insurance cover it?".

This isn't to say we don't need insurance. It should be there to protect against financial catastrophes that could result from something like a heart attack. HSAs, which cover smaller expenditures, paired with high-deductible catastrophic insurance is what is needed.

_Mike_, there's no contradi... (Below threshold)
Paul Hamilton:

_Mike_, there's no contradiction there. In the current system, a LIMITED number of people pay the bills for everybody. In a nationalized system, everyone who pays taxes contributes to the pool of funding that covers everyone's basic healthcare needs.

TR19667, nobody is saying t... (Below threshold)
Paul Hamilton:

TR19667, nobody is saying this is "free" healthcare any more than the system we currently have is "free" just because you don't pay for it out of your pocket, but rather have the money deducted from your salary to cover the cost of insurance.

As for it not being in the constitution, you're right. Social Security isn't in the constitution either, but it's there because the vast majority of Americans support the idea. What we need to watch out for are un- or extra-constitutional measures which take away the rights to which we are entitled, not a system of benefits.

And my wife and I are self employed. We know exactly how much we pay for health insurance and it's obscene.

While I am in no way justif... (Below threshold)

While I am in no way justifying the practices of personal injury lawyers (whom I abhor) or some insurance companies, I think Doctors bear another aspect of responsibility for health care costs that isn't directly addressed in an otherwise excellent post, JayTea. Having worked in a hospital for five years, I saw it often enough that it bears being mentioned.

When a insured Patient comes into the E.R. for treatment, the doctor (often an Intern) will often consult with the Attending Physician to make sure his or her assessment is correct. If the Attending or Consult determines that the insured patient's case is "interesting", he's going to bring in a whole bunch of other M.D.'s to get a look. Each of these M.D.'s will, in turn, charge a fee simply for having indulged their curiosity. At the end of the day, regardless of the consult of these additional M.D.'s, the assessment of the original Intern will remain the same.

That's thousands of dollars charged to the Patient's insurance company (or Medicaid or Medicare, for that matter). If the insurance company balks, the hospital will still have to pay out the fees of all of those M.D.'s. Gee, I wonder who's going to end up paying for that?
This practice needs to be reined in by the hospitals and physician's groups, and such consults need to be done on a pro bono basis. I won't hold my breath waiting for that to happen!

DJ said:>>The first ... (Below threshold)
Paul Hamilton:

DJ said:
>>The first question people ask a doctor recommending tests is not "Do I really need that?" but "Does my insurance cover it?".

EXACTLY! The current system is designed for such abuses because the insurance companies feel no pain and the providers just make higher profits.

My grandmother had bone cancer and it became obvious early on that it was terminal, but she also had very good insurance and the hospital did all sorts of procedures on her, knowing that she was dying and that none of it would make any difference.

She could have been moved to hospice and given pallative care for much less cost and given a less painful and more dignified end of her life, but that's not the way the system works. It's all about maximizing the profits.

Sorry, Paul. The contradic... (Below threshold)
_Mike_:

Sorry, Paul. The contradiction still exists, even in your revised statement.


a LIMITED number of people pay the bills for everybody

In a nationalized system, everyone who pays taxes contributes

You still have a LIMITED pool of people who will be paying for everyone's healthcare. Witness that in 2004, 32.4% of filers in the U.S. had ZERO income tax liability. Of the remaining 67.6%, a significant percentage will not pay enough in taxes to cover the cost of their healthcare, which shifts that burden over to those remaining. Any way you cut it, there's no free lunch. A LIMITED number of people are still paying for everyone's healthcare cost.

In the current system, ... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

In the current system, a LIMITED number of people pay the bills for everybody. In a nationalized system, everyone who pays taxes contributes to the pool of funding that covers everyone's basic healthcare needs.

Posted by: Paul Hamilton at June 27, 2007 01:01 PM


"..everyone who pays taxes..."
So in a nationalized system, only a LIMITED number of people pays the bills for everybody. Except that now the gov't gets to decide who gets what kind of care, when they get it or if they get it at all.

How the hell is this the gov't's business? Should they have a say over everything we do?

Heh. Didn't see your... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

Heh.
Didn't see your last post _Mike_. Sick minds think alike.

Mike, right on.... (Below threshold)
Jo:

Mike, right on.

Mike, is the "32.4% of file... (Below threshold)
Paul Hamilton:

Mike, is the "32.4% of filers" a greater or lesser number than the 45 million who are uninsured? I suspect it might be lesser.

I agree there's no free lunch. Whether you're talking about the current system or a nationalized system, healthcare MUST be reformed. We cannot set up a system where providers bleed every possible penny out of every patient. I personally believe that in a nationalized system, there would be more accountability because people get more excited about the taxes they pay than the portion of their salary that goes for insurance. Furthermore, we could establish guidelines for care which would put a huge dent in the sort of practices which make costs so high.

PH - you're nuts if you thi... (Below threshold)
GeminiChuck:

PH - you're nuts if you think having the govt pick up your health costs will be better then we have now. You just want everyone else to pay for your personnel costs so you'll have more spending money and you think you'll come out ahead.

Note: 1) 45 million without ins is not a proven number; 2) like the minimum wage, not having ins is a temporary situation for most; and 3) whatever the number is, many chose to not have ins (arent you libs supposed to be for choice?).

Also, we DO have the best health care in the world because: 1) people are not dying looking for or waiting for health care; 2) foreigners come here when the best care is needed; 3) we develop the best health care solutions from medicine to devices of all types. How dare you denegrate our medical care that saves so many human lives world-wide? gc

"The first question peop... (Below threshold)

"The first question people ask a doctor recommending tests is not "Do I really need that?" but "Does my insurance cover it?"."

"EXACTLY! The current system is designed for such abuses because the insurance companies feel no pain and the providers just make higher profits."

And government controlled healthcare will not suffer the same abuses?

"In a nationalized system, ... (Below threshold)
brainy435:

"In a nationalized system, everyone who pays taxes contributes to the pool of funding that covers everyone's basic healthcare needs."

Except it never sticks to covering just "basic healthcare" for long. Soon you're covering sex changes and breast implants, etc.

HMO's started with Kaiser d... (Below threshold)
nogo postal:

HMO's started with Kaiser during Nixon...their premise was simple..they can charge more and provide less..maybe it is true that we are so pitiful a nation that we are incapable of doing what most other recognized industrial provide...

I do have a bias.. ten years ago my sister Carla donated a Kidney to my sister Linda. When Carla switched Universities to teach music...she was unable to get medical insurance because "of a pre-existing medical condition."

Health Care should not be bottom line business..
But hey keep paying higher premiums combined with higher deductible..
Do you think the time a woman is in the hospital after giving birth has gone from 4 days in 1985 to 24 hours now because today's woman is stronger?

I am glad all my Meds are from a govt agency ...the V.A. $10 a script a month..


Gemini: If we had the grea... (Below threshold)
Paul Hamilton:

Gemini: If we had the greatest healthcare system in the world, we shouldn't have mortality rates which are so far down the list compared to nations which do have nationalized systems. It would be more accurate to say we have the best FACILITIES in the world, but not everyone can afford to take advantage of them.

Oyster: I think that taxpayers will be a lot more likely to demand accountability for the system than the current system does. And hopefully we will establish standards of care which will limit hospitals insisting on treatments that are of very limited or no value to the patient just so they can make more money.

Brainy: Good point. We need to make sure that the national plan covers necessary treatments and responsible preventative measures, not purely cosmetic surgeries.

Someone in your family goin... (Below threshold)
noo postal:

Someone in your family going to become a parent..
Remember the HMO bottom line trumps mother/baby

By: Anna May A. Selga,MD
Department of Pediatrics

The Problem and Its Setting

Hospital stays for newborns and mothers after uncomplicated vaginal delivery have decreased steadily since birth in hospital setting became common.3 From a standard hospital lying-in period of between 8-14 days in the 1950s 20, length of postnatal hospital stay for an uncomplicated vaginal birth is now 2-3 days or less. In the United States, hospital stays after vaginal deliveries gradually decreased from an average of 4 days in the 1970s to 2 days in 1992.3 In 1995, the mean length of stay, vaginally delivered, and routinely discharged infants was 1.1 days. In the Western United States, stays of 12 to 24 hours after uncomplicated vaginal birth is now standard.2 Locally, the Philippine General Hospital and Saint Luke's Medical Center observe their babies at no less than 24 hours. Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital discharges newborns as early as 12 hours post partum."

One (of many) problems I ha... (Below threshold)
engineer:

One (of many) problems I have with a national health care plan is that I'm paying for somebody elses irresponsibility. I'm 46 and reasonably fit, don't drink, don't smoke and don't engage in reckless activities. If I wanted insurance, my rates would be lower than somebody who smokes, drinks or skydives. A national plan means I have to subsidize their activities.

It reminds me a neighbor that I once had. He didn't have money for insurance. But he had money for two packs a day, a case a week and golf a couple days a week (not risky there.) If he didn't smoke and drink and play golf, his rates would have been lower and he could have afforded the insurance. So with a national health insurance plan, I will be able to subsidize his drinking, smoking and golfing! And since I make lots of money, I'll have to pay more in taxes, take less home and I won't have money left over to play golf (if I want to. I don't) I'll have to curtail some of my activities to pay for his.

Hamilton,It is wro... (Below threshold)
P. Bunyan:

Hamilton,

It is wrong to blame the mortality rates in the US v.s. socialized nations on the health care system. There are many other factors.

You have to be able to understand concepts like freedom, personal responsibility and choice to understand that though.

Since you brought up the su... (Below threshold)
Robert the Original:

Since you brought up the subject of babies and deliveries:

John Edwards made 50 million plus suing the doctors and hospitals of cerebral palsy victims in North Carolina. In each case Edwards would parade the young victim about the courtroom and explain that his condition was due to a failure to perform a cesarean.

As his line of successes continued, more and more Obstetricians and Gynecologists left the State or switched specialties due to the threat of lawsuit and the mounting cost of medical malpractice. Those remaining started performing many more cesarean sections.

The truth is that Edwards' medical basis turned out to be all BS - studies show that cerebral palsy victims get it earlier in gestation, not during delivery.

The problem is not only that so many mothers of North Carolina had to suffer a much more difficult recovery from all those cesareans. The problem is not only that the cost of health care and malpractice insurance went up, or that this type of care was unavailable in places due to doctors leaving.

The problem was that delivery by cesarean carries a higher risk to the mother. Without doubt mothers died and suffered serious consequences from the additional and unnecessary cesareans performed as a protection against lawsuit.

Edwards was killing and maiming the mothers of North Carolina for personal profit.

Now he wants to be in charge of health care for you.

P. Bunyan,He has t... (Below threshold)
Ennis:

P. Bunyan,

He has to understand that we are swamped with illegals with all sorts of fun diseases like Tuberculosis, Dengue Fever along with dietary ones such as Rickets. None of those things elongate life. Add to that the death rates from the Latino gang wars in border states which have had to deal with this immigration mess for decades. Another thing one has to consider is the fudging of the records in the LLL's holy nationalized health care countries-in some a child is not considered a "live birth" until it is a week old.

Anyway, you want to see how long you would wait under glorious Health Canada for what are considered here routine tests and procedures in the U.S.? Well, the government of Ontario has provided you with a handy little tool. http://www.health.gov.on.ca/transformation/wait_times/public/wt_public_mn.html#

Once you play with it ask yourself if you are going to tolerate a wait of months for something as simple as an MRI. Ask yourself if you can afford to wait up to six months for a bypass operation if you needed one. Then you will understand why they send out disclaimers on letters stating "If the person who was to receive this procedure has died please disregard this notice." You will also understand that everyone and everyone who can afford it buys supplemental health insurance so they can get AMERICAN style treatment in the lands of holy nationalized health care. Extra money on top of the 40-50% tax burden you will have to bear to fund the LLL holy nationalized health care.

My father was a MD. I had t... (Below threshold)
tyree:

My father was a MD. I had to pay my own way through college because his malpractice insurance went up by $20k in one year. Any "fix" of the system that does not include eliminating the lawyers outrageous profits is not fixing the system. The lawyers broke it, they should pay to fix it. "Windfall Profits Tax" on John Edward's millions would be a good start.

Jay Tea, to be concise: mal... (Below threshold)
jim:

Jay Tea, to be concise: malpractice costs have no relation to the cost of healthcare insurance.

This has been confirmed by several studies. Here's one below:

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/07/business/07insure.html?ex=1278388800&en=d612d8f3ea657b7d&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss

"From 2000 to 2004, the increase in premiums collected by the leading 15 medical malpractice insurance companies was 21 times the increase in the claims they paid, according to the study."

And as a couple of different studies this year found, malpractice insurers are charging more while payouts are ***decreasing****.

http://www.atla.org/pressroom/PressReleases/2007/may24.aspx

"Written by former Missouri Insurance Commissioner Jay Angoff...The report shows that these insurers artificially raised doctors' premiums and misled the public about the nature of malpractice claims - asserting that a so-called "malpractice crisis" exists. The report puts the lie to that claim."

" * The medical malpractice insurers saw losses and projected losses plummet by 48% over the period 2003-2006.
* These incurred losses have declined every year for the past five years.
* These insurers' 2006 surplus is 43% greater than their surplus in 2003 - five times the state-minimum surplus for insurer stability.
* Only three of the 15 leading insurers issued dividends to doctors in 2006.

"Medical malpractice insurance companies have been price-gouging doctors, padding their pockets with excessive premiums and driving up the cost of healthcare," said Jon Haber, AAJ Chief Executive Officer. "Cynically, these same insurance companies have been blaming high premiums on a so-called 'malpractice crisis' that doesn't exist. We have an insurance crisis, not a medical malpractice crisis."

http://www.tortdeform.com/archives/2007/05/report_shows_malpractice_insur.html

"...The Pennsylvania Supreme Court released their latest figures for medical malpractice filings. In Pennsylvania, there was a 38 percent decline in med mal filings from the base years 2000-2002. In Philadelphia, the state's largest judicial district, the decline has been over 50 percent. 2006 saw the fewest number of jury verdicts resulting in plaintiff awards."


As for the pain and terror of having a Fed. government agency involved - remember what it was like the last time you disputed a bill with your utility company; tried to get Time Warner to fix your cable issue; tried to get a warranty honored; or you tried to dispute an item on your credit report.

Corporations, like all bureaucracies, are models of efficiency when you're giving them money. When you might be costing them money, they suddenly turn into blank stubborn walls. And when you might be costing them money because you need an operation to live, someone will be paid a bonus for wiggling out of the costly obligation to save your life.

And actually, having the So... (Below threshold)
jim:

And actually, having the Social Security agency involved with my health care would be just awesome.

The US is virtuall... (Below threshold)
John in CA:
The US is virtually alone among advanced nations in failing to provide at least basic care or a medical safety net for it's citizens. And it's about time we caught up with the rest of the world.

Posted by: Paul Hamilton at June 27, 2007 12:40 PM

Another socialist from wizblues escapes his sandbox and comes and espouses that the United States be more like socialist countries.

As soon as the government starts providing for our health and medical care, they then have the power to dictate a good portion of your behavior.

If you don't believe that universal health care isn't the first step in the health nazi's plan to tell you what to do, then you aren't paying attention. Trans fats will be banned, you'll be told what to eat and how to eat. You'll be informed by the government that your BMI is out of limits - if you don't correct it there will be fines incurred.

Think I'm out of my mind? In NYC, couple of years ago, those who were receiving city funded health assistance had their labwork would get contact letters if their blood sugar, or cholesterol was too high, advising them to take action to correct those problems.

If you don't believe tha... (Below threshold)
Godwin:

If you don't believe that universal health care isn't the first step in the health nazi's plan to tell you what to do, then you aren't paying attention.

Health Nazis? What a moron.

As soon as the governmen... (Below threshold)
jim:

As soon as the government starts providing for our health and medical care, they then have the power to dictate a good portion of your behavior.

So, since the government providing for our police, military, firefighters and road workers, why hasn't that already made us a communism?

"I also believe that the bi... (Below threshold)
Jay:

"I also believe that the biggest contributor to the health care financing crisis has been lawyers."

It's rare, but you are actually mistaken. I know, how weird is that!

Biggest contributor is the government. There is nothing wrong that having never had Medicare exist wouldn't render moot. Which implies that a careful winding down of same would be needed to start to heal healthcare and the financing thereof.

Paul Hamilton: We're deman... (Below threshold)

Paul Hamilton: We're demanding accountability for immigration enforcement and now reform. What is it getting us? We're demanding accountability for the ever increasing money spent on education. What have we gotten? We've been demanding, all along, meaningful reform of our current healthcare system. What have they done? We've been demanding absolute transparency of government spending and earmarks. Where is it?

But somehow, this will be different?

The US is virtuall... (Below threshold)
The US is virtually alone among advanced nations in failing to provide at least basic care or a medical safety net for it's citizens. And it's about time we caught up with the rest of the world. Posted by: Paul Hamilton at June 27, 2007 12:40 PM

Crock, plain and simple. First of all, we do provide basic care for it's citizens. Second, a lot of citizens bitch and complain for having to even pay a $20 copay and nothing more. Thirdly, we have the best healthcare in the world, despite what michigan fats wants everyone to think.

I'm so sick and tired of this argument that WE have to somehow compete with the rest of the world in socializing as much of our country as possible, as if it that has worked to begin with.

Paul Hamilton, in regards t... (Below threshold)
Glyph:

Paul Hamilton, in regards to your post above about your grandmother, it is the PATIENT AND THE PATIENT'S family's place to decide if they want to decline care. All the expensive care your terminal grandmother received was not because the doctors/hospital want to make a buck, it was because you failed to let them know that your grandmother did not want desperate measures, but would have been happy to only have hospice and other comfort/pain measures taken. Now to be fair, the doctors should have brought this up to you, but it is your place to deny care, it is our place to provide it. And I agree, if things were as clear cut as you say (that grandma was overwhelmingly likely to die regardless of treatment), it would have made much more sense to put her in hospice. But most people do not look at end of life issues that rationally, instead wanting "all the stops" pulled out, which is an incredible cost that we all have to bear for a seemingly minute gain in lifespan and/or quality.

John in CA said:>>th... (Below threshold)
Paul Hamilton:

John in CA said:
>>those who were receiving city funded health assistance had their labwork would get contact letters if their blood sugar, or cholesterol was too high, advising them to take action to correct those problems.

And that's a problem? If a private HMO did the same thing, would you have a similar problem with that? Prevention is always cheaper than cure.

Oyster:
Good question about the accountability. All I can do is suggest that responsible citizens continue to work to inform the irresponsible.

Glyph, you are exactly right about the situation. My granddad was still alive at that time and when she was first hospitalized, he gave the doctors carte blanche to do whatever they could to save her and then, even when her condition deteriorated, he could not bring himself to change his mind. I think that some doctor should have had the morality to tell him that all he was doing was lengthening her suffering, but no one did. They gave her a transfusion the day she died, even though her vital signs were rapidly collapsing.

Ennis (@3:21),Whil... (Below threshold)
P. Bunyan:

Ennis (@3:21),

While what you say about illegals may be true and a contributing factor, I was thinking more about how Americans have the opportunity and the ability to choose unhealthy and potentially distructive habits and lifestyles much more so than in leftist-socialist* countries that may be "healthier". That in no way means they have better healthcare. The excellent healthcare we have here in America is one of the reasons so many choose unhealthy and potentially harmful habits and lifestyles. We have options, choice, and personal responsiblity (or irresponsibilty).

About third of the Adults in this country are obese, and I think it's even higher for children. The US ranks #1 in the world for calorie consuption per capita. Fat people don't live as long. In leftist-socialist countries like North Korea, Cuba, Vietnam, and in the western EU there are many skinny people who have to ride bicycles to get where they need to go. Skinny, active people live longer. It's a miserable life but it's longer.

But back to the original topic, Jay was right. While there are many problems with the healthcare system in the US, this is the biggest. And the Democrats will not fix that problem- ever. In fact, I bet they defend to the death the Right to sue themselves in to mansions and the rest of us into the poor house.

(*Even though Japan tops the list and I don't think they're leftist, but most of rest of the top are. An odd thing is that Japan also ranks #3 for heaviest smoking in the world and Switzerland, which is #4 healthiest is also #4 for heaviest smoking.)

I've often wondered how soc... (Below threshold)
Mike:

I've often wondered how socialized medicine would affect the personal injury law industry. After all, under socialized medicine government bureaucrats decide who gets what treatment, when it is given, and how much the government will pay for it, usually - as Imhotep pointed out - on a pay for performance basis.

Under such a system the doctors are simply employees of the state, doing what they are told to do by the government. As such, the personal injury lawyers would be left no alternative but to sue the federal government for malpractice.

How much luck do you think the ambulance chasers would have suing the government? And if the money isn't there, personal injury lawyers won't have any interest in malpractice lawsuits.

I think that means two things: one, the government probably will be able to get away with malpractice without any real accountability, and two, the ambulance chasers will simply look for another set of deep pockets to empty.

Never fear Mike,Th... (Below threshold)
P. Bunyan:

Never fear Mike,

The Democrats, who are the only ones who would ever attept to impose socialized healthcare on America, would never ever ever even come close to thinking about passing any legislation that in any way would even slightly have a infinitessimally small chance of reducing the cash flow from the pockets of all Americans into the hands of the trial lawyers.

Never gonna happen. It would be a sacrilege to them.

They'd figure out a way to socialize the system while still allowing themselves to sue the hell out of it and us. It would be a loose-loose-loose-loose-loose situation for everyone but the lawyers and perhaps a few professional extortionists, err, I mean union members.

...the government ... (Below threshold)
John in CA:
...the government probably will be able to get away with malpractice without any real accountability

So, pretty much like the rest of the government.

www.opinionjournal.com/edit... (Below threshold)
_Mike_:

www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110010266

WSJ piece about the 'success' of the 'nationalized' (read: socialist) health care system in Canada. The piece also notes that both Canada and Britain have been moving away from their socialist run medicine towards privatization.

Her client, Lindsay McCreith, would have had to wait for four months just to get an MRI, and then months more to see a neurologist for his malignant brain tumor. Instead, frustrated and ill, the retired auto-body shop owner traveled to Buffalo, N.Y., for a lifesaving surgery.
Please...the healthcare cri... (Below threshold)
Rich:

Please...the healthcare crisis is real but the suggestion the lawyers are a big factor is flat out wrong. A big study concluded it was a hoax but the fact remains we do need to reform the system using perhaps some sort of task force to truly study it. The problem is that it is such a big business I doubt true reform which benefits us all will come easily.
http://www.citizen.org/documents/NPDB%20Report_Final.pdf




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