Showdown?

Today, Washington DC goes on display. The occasion is the televised meeting between Congressional Republican and Democratic leaders and President Obama. It is very difficult to imagine this event as “purposeful” unless your definition of purpose is to upstage the other side.

The Republican pre-meeting points are,  start over, and work on costs step by step. And to add emphasis, they say that the American people are against President Obama’s proposals. The Democrats counter “unless the Country reigns in abusive private insurance companies practices and mandate every one to have coverage, there is no way to get control of costs”. And Democrats add, each part of President Obama’s plan polls very well and are favored by most Americans.

Confused?

First, both of these positions are reasonably defensible (assuming Republicans would really work on cost control and then later move to include everyone, or that Democrats would eventually work to reign in costs). Second, a majority of Americans also favor a single payer system and that is not even on the table for discussion. Health care reform is a complex subject.   With so many people making so much money and so many other people depending upon health care services, fixing the health care ship, that is about to sink, is still a task Congress seems afraid to seriously address.

Some what lost in this confusing discussion is the simple question, “why do we need private, for profit, insurance companies anyway?” What value do they add? Could not non-profits provide the same service?

Think about this. You go to the doctor, present your insurance card, get seen, maybe pay a co-pay or deductible, and hopefully get better. What value add has the insurance company provided? Why could you not pay an annual fee (maybe supplemented by an employer or the government tax credit) and simply use a “credit” card to charge your doctor’s (or hospital’s or pharmacy’s) fees.  (The health care provider would then receive their payment from your health care account.)  Where is there anything other than a nominal book keeping and accounting value performed by private for profit insurance companies?

The Republicans do have a solid point (in my opinion) with malpractice limits. This type of reform coupled with a fee schedule that covers each incident and not per service would cut substantially into one of the causes for high health care cost.

Dreaming.  This won’t happen today but I wish it would. Agreement on moving to non-profit private insurance, significant malpractice limits, universal health insurance mandate, no exclusions or right to refuse coverage, and agreement to “global benchmarking” in order to ensure that Americans are receiving the highest quality of health care at world competitive prices.

I can dream, can’t I?

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