Socialized Healthcare is bad for us

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by _randy_, Nov 3, 2007.

  1. _randy_

    _randy_ New Member

    I know there are varying opinions on this, so I thought I'd open up the dialog and start with mine.

    I think we know more than anyone else that there are a lot of problems with health care. A lot of people have no idea how bad it is because the only time they go to the doctor is when they have a simple problem like strep throat. They pay their $25 copay, they get the antibiotic they needed, and they're completely cured within a week. Unless you have a more complicated illness like we have, you'd probably oblivious to all of the incompetence.

    Among the many problems I've noticed, these are a few worth noting:

    -Doctors don't crave our business. They don't work hard to keep us satisfied and happy customers in order to keep our loyalty. In fact, have you ever tried to make an appointment with a particular doctor and the receptionist tells you he's not accepting any new patients? A company turning business away? This is ridiculous. Here's an experiment: next time a doctor tells you you really don't have a serious problem and it's all in your head, threaten to take your business elsewhere. See how quickly you get laughed out of the office. Try this at a restaurant and the manager might come out and give you a free meal and apologize. They realize your business is how they make their living.

    -Doctors get paid pretty much the same amount per patient whether they're a very good & caring doctor who's up-to-date on the latest research, or they're someone who barely got by in medical school and could give a rat's ass about you. This does 2 things: it gives NO incentives to doctors to work hard for their patients, and it sets up a system for where the only way a good doctor can make more is to increase his patient volume. What happens is, all of his patients then suffer because they have to wait 6 weeks to even get in.

    -Patients do not do comparison shopping among doctors. They don't price shop and they don't have much means for shopping on quality either. Let's face it, most people have no clue how much a doctor actually charges for a visit. Patients know it just costs them $25, and that's all that matters. Keep in mind, that's $25, whether you're going to a good quality doctor or one who shouldn't even be in business. There is barely any price differentiation among doctors because nobody cares, co-pays take care of this for us and we don't even think about it.

    This whole insurance business actually keeps health care costs elevated. Imagine for a moment that health insurance didn't exist and that everyone paid cash for doctors visits. Doctors would notice a drop in business immediately. People would be more wise about how often they go to the doctor because they see the dollars coming right out of their pocket. Now, this is somewhat bad, because if someone has a problem, they should be going to the doctor. However, what will happen in response is Doctors will be forced to lower their prices in order to keep their businesses sustained.

    Patients will be a lot more conscious of the prices doctors charge, and in turn be a LOT more conscious of the quality they're receiving. Plus, doctors will be a lot more competitive. And when doctors compete, the patients win. New doctors just opening their practice will have very low prices in order to build a patient base. This will have a lowering effect on the rest of the market.

    The way good and bad doctors get equal pay right now is ridiculous. Good doctors should be rewarded for their efforts, and bad doctors better be getting their act together, lowering their prices, or be forced to go out of business.

    Just like any market you'd have different price and quality points, as well as different niches. People would be able to compare, and that would force doctors to get their act together because it would be much more apparent that their livelihoods depend on our business.

    Now, when people start talking about socialized healthcare, I don't see that as a solution to our problems, but I see that as making our problems much much worse. We need to get back to giving power to the patient, giving options in the market place. We need doctors to be held accountable and we need to be demanding as hell, given the amounts they charge us.

    Imagine if it was all free (not really free, EVERYONE would pay). Just how demanding can you be when you're getting a service you didn't even pay for? Just how much does the doctor care about you when his business depends more on government money than it does you? If you had a serious problem you needed to take care of and were willing to put part of your life savings towards it, shouldn't you have that option? Or would you rather wait in line along with everyone else for sub par medical care.

    Competition creates innovation, lackthereof curtails it. I find it really interesting that the same people who think our government is ineffective at running this country are often times the same people who think the government should be running healthcare.

    Comments welcome!

  2. elliespad

    elliespad Member

    I couldn't have said it better myself. Doing it your way would also likely make people take more responsibility for their health. The consequences of poor lifestyle choices would have an obvious impact on you pocketbook, eventually.

    The downside is, that the poor, or lower incomes, may not have access (money) to even BASIC healthcare. And even middle/high income patients lack the ability to afford costs with catestrophic health care costs.

    There is NO WAY the costs of HIGH TECH treatments are going to come down to where the average Joe could afford a round of testing with CT scans, blood labs, chemo treatments, radiation, etc.

    Now, I personally believe there are many ways besides chemicals and radiation to treat cancer, and other acute and chronic health issues for example, but the average JOE lacks the motivation or brain power to research alternatives.

    So, in your and my health care world, mainstream docs and alternative docs would be competing for our business with each offering what they believe to be the best treatment. May the best man win. And there are probably MANY BEST MEN.

    Perhaps instead of a National health care insurance, the government would issue health care vouchers, or credits with an absolute yearly limit. Just force the population to do their homework, research their health issues, reseach their doctors. You'd better make darn sure to need/want their services cause theres not a never ending fund to draw draw from.

    An example which comes to mind, is the cost for Diabetic testing strips? Do you know the cost for those little bottles of test strips? I'm not diabetic, but my aunt was and it's something like $50 or $60 for the little test strips. She didn't pay a DIME for them, they were sent to her for free because she had Medicare and private insurance. But, IF they weren't covered, how many people would continue buying them at that price? I bet the cost would drop right quick.

    It is a complicated issue to be sure, and I like your ideas.
  3. _randy_

    _randy_ New Member

    Thanks for the comments elliespad. You bring up some good arguments, and I'll be honest I haven't thought of a way to deal with those problems if it was a truly free market without any government intervention. About the costs of diagnostic equipment and cancer treatments, I really haven't looked into it enough to know.

    The market of that equipment very well could be very competitive, but despite that costs or still high. Not sure. But look at how quickly the cost of computers has come down considerably (along with increase in quality) in the last 10 years. I read that Walmart is about to start selling a PC for $200 and it's probably a decent computer - probably 5 times better than the top of the line model 10 years ago.

    I've thought it might be good to get rid of insurance for regular doctors visits, but still have insurance for emergencies (I guess you could include Cancer treatment in here). This would be sort of like with auto-repair. We pay out of pocket for normal repairs but we have auto insurance for wrecks. (although for some reason auto repair is still pretty expensive!)

    [This Message was Edited on 11/04/2007]
  4. _randy_

    _randy_ New Member

    Oh by the way, prices for test strips vary all over the place, I used to work for a distributor that sold these. Check out "Uni-Check" test strips. They are generic for One Touch Basic strips. The wholesale price for these were about $10 for a box of 50, if you check around on the net I think you could get them for $16 retail.

    Another kind is True-Track strips. We didn't sell these, but I had pharmacists telling me about how good of a deal it was (maybe more for them than the patient though I'm not sure). Apparently they're really cheap and you get free meters with them.

    Sorry I kind of missed your point on this. And you're right, prices would most certainly drop. If the makers of Uni-Check can sell them for $10 and still make a profit, that tells you that the makers of Accu-check and One Touch Ultra have a lot of room to lower their price and still be in business. They probably have reps going around pushing these brands, and for the brand name alone it's an additional 20% in markup. [This Message was Edited on 11/04/2007]
  5. bikology

    bikology New Member

    Want to know why the cost is so high? FDA approval and R&D.

    Do you want a surgical robot operating on you that was designed by the high school robotics team, and they forgot to put an emergency stop button on it and made it so that it was impossible to sterilize and unreliable?

    No one wants that near them. The FDA sure doesn't like it either. So they have to do a lot of quality control on medical devices. This inspection is time consuming and expensive for the device company, and they have to spend lots of money on scientists and lawyers because of it.
  6. Catseye

    Catseye Member

    Hi randy,

    you are so right about lack of incentive. Crisis management is one thing, but you can't totally trust an industry that is supposed to watch out for our health but is "free market system" based and makes more money when we are not well. This is scary and what's even scarier is people accusing other people of "doctor bashing" when they remark on the hilarity of this and try to point it out to people.

    There are basically 2 kinds of people: leaders and followers. People who like to find solutions and people who wait around for others to find the solutions. Socialized medicine is almost necessary for the followers because they won't take responsibility for their health the same way the leaders will. They need guidance and direction while the leaders can find the knowledge they need to get well.

    You can't believe the health stuff you hear on the news because it's all biased. For example, remember the egg/cholestrol scare? Your liver makes cholesterol while the miniscule amount you obtain from an egg after your digestive system dissolves most of it is inconsequential. Plus, your body needs cholesterol: it's used by the adrenal glands to manufacture crucial hormones.

    If socialized medicine was not profit dependent and they were really interested in our health, then it would be a great thing. It will probably be like that in another 200 years. But for now, it is profit based and so they will only look for profitable ways to alter health, not necessarily even for the better. Take new drugs for example. The fact that a drug is new does not mean it is a "new and improved compound" designed to do the same thing as the old drug, it merely means the patent ran out on the old one and they have a new one to make money on. It might not even be as effective as the old one, but that certainly does not make headlines. The people who bring us our "headlines" are also the people selling advertising time to drug companies and others who profit more from us being sick.

    As I've said before, this is why treatments for cfs and fibro are so elusive: because they are diseases of deficiencies of vitamins, minerals, metabolites, enzymes and amino acids. And none of these things are patentable and therefore, none of these things are profitable. Yes, supplement companies are out there and they are making money. That's NOT the same thing. Let's say a company wants to do a study on coq10 and have doctors start prescribing it. First, they have to be an "accepted scientific body" according to the FDA. Then, they have to go through all the clinical trials and studies according to the FDA. You can imagine how many millions of dollars this is going to cost.

    If they could patent coq10, then they could sell it and make a good bit of money on it. But they can't patent it and it is already avaiable on every street corner. So many companies are selling it and making a meager profit on it. If the company that did the studies can't patent it and sell it for a high price, they cannot recoup the millions they spent on the study. That is how drugs happen. They test something, they patent it, they make their money back for the study and even more for profit afterwards, until the patent runs out and then any company can make it - that's generic drugs, when the patent ran out.

    And the jargon they use is designed to mislead people, even doctors, into believing things that are not true. Like when they say "there is no evidence that coq10 helps with lack of energy". Okay, that really means that "no scientific body of knowledge" has performed any "FDA outlined clinical trials". That is not the same thing as "no evidence" - it merely means the drug companies have not done any studies. And "no evidence" is a big, fat lie anyway. There are other countries that are doing studies on things that help us, like Germany and Italy. So they should really say what they mean: no studies have been done in America by any American drug company to look for evidence of coq10 helping anyone with cfs because the drug company cannot patent or make any profit on coq10 and if they can't make a profit, they certainly aren't interested in helping anybody just because they are suffering and need it.

    The free market system is our economic system and this is how it works. Before I get accused of "doctor bashing" once again, which is ridiculous, please try to google "economy" and try to understand how it works and why it is important. If you can't believe that the medical industry is only interested in profit and you think it really cares about making people well rather than covering up symptoms, then you don't understand "economy", "profit" or "free market system" and you need to do a little research. Did you know they can make razor blades that last for months? Do you know why they don't? Because if they last a short while and they are disposable, people will have to keep buying more and more of them. The technology, the knowledge and the science is there, but if it is hurting profits, it won't be used. This important point applies exactly to the medical profession as we know it in this country.

    Coq10 is not patentable since it is a natural product - it is in some foods and it is also something the body makes itself. It's very important to many metabolic processes in the body. You need it to live. So why aren't there studies being done on it? Well, in America there aren't because it isn't profitable enough to warrant a study. But in Europe, lots of these substances are tested, especially in places like Germany and Italy. You won't hear about it on the news because the natural product (coq10) which helps you and which you need desperately is in direct competition with several useless drugs that can sometimes help mask the symptom of the coq10 deficiency.

    So our healthcare is really just "drug sales", it is not based on "health care", but on "crisis management". If I break my leg, I will go to the doctor. But with CFS, I rely on dr. google. He is going to tell me what I need to know to get well, not try to find a drug that will be indicated based on certain test results. For example, for infections like strep throat, I can just eat some raw garlic for a couple of days. I don't need a doctor and I don't need to help create superbugs by using antibiotics when garlic is much more effective, much cheaper, and has no side effects. Garlic is very powerful and you probably have some in your kitchen. But what doctor is going to prescribe it? None. Not because it doesn't work, but because it hasn't been studied because it is not patentable and because there is no way for anybody to make a profit on it.

    So back to the original discussion. Is health care for everybody a good thing? Yes, if it was actual "health care", but it isn't - at least, not in its present state. Crisis management care for everyone would be good if people could be trusted to only go to the doctor when they needed to and could take care of themselves. But any sort of welfare system avaiable to everyone is going to be abused because right now, there are many more "follower" types of people than "leader" types. Whose fault is that? Parents and the school system, but that's a whole 'nuther discussion.

    Right now, I have more faith in dr. google. He has got me out of bed and made me functional once again. Twenty doctors and $30,000 paid to the medical profession did nothing for me except made me worse. How's that for lack of incentive?

  7. jef40

    jef40 New Member

    I am really torn on this issue. I work in healthcare, and I see a lot of waste and mis-management that could be refined.

    I also see the people who bring kids in the clinic because their nose is running - and they can do this because the child has Medicaid. I cannot do this because my child has insurance that I not only pay for, but I have a co-payment as well. They get free dental ( in some states ) and eyeglasses ( in some states .) They get no penalty for multiple visits that result in decongestant that they could get at the store, but if the doctor prescribes it, then there is a reduced cost or it is free.

    These children on medicaid get advantages such as speech therapy (that, although my child needed, my insurance didn't cover) for "free." (I'm not implying that they don't need it either.)They get the innoculations and immunizations free through the health department, but I have to pay.

    So, in effect, I pay for my insurance, and through taxes, I pay for their snotty noses.

    But in the last couple of years, I have seen another trend, and that is that the children in a family may have Medicaid, but the parents have nothing. No help whatsoever. If they are sick, they are sick . Most around here cannot even afford a doctor visit, let alone medication, so they "make do".

    What happens when that infection doesn't go away? Then they borrow money, go to the doctor, who recommends lots of tests and things they cannot afford, and then they are stressed and more ill. Now, they have had to borrow money to go have the doctor tell them they are sick and to get medication as it is, then what does the doctor do?

    In this sense, I think that the type of medical care that provides for everyone the same would be beneficial. I don't necessarily agree that the care would be any better, because hearing stories from friends in England don't give me much hope of that with waiting lists and such. ( Maybe they exaggerate ) The care indeed would be different in that treatments for rehabilitation and such would be less intensive and more patient independent. I suspect that other treatments might be the same.

    Living in a very low income area has given me greater insight into the problems that the low income families face. It isn't pretty at all. That is what the "government" is trying to help, I think. I'm just not sure that there is a "right" way to do it...
  8. Lichu3

    Lichu3 New Member

    I've commented on this issue in another post so I'll leave that discussion there.

    1) My public health professors talked about the free market and healthcare often in our discussions. One interesting point brought up was for a "free market" system to work well, consumers need to have both information and the willingness to use that information.

    As it is, first, there isn't great standardized data for judging care. Second, even when data have been provided in a friendly format for people, studies have shown (like others commented here) that people don't pay attention to this information. Many folks won't, don't, or can't (due to lack of education say) take responsibility for their own healthcare.

    Health savings accounts have been thought to be one way to make people take responsiblity for their own health and for employers to lower costs. But it needs to be done with caution. People may be less likely to go to the doctor for a common cold (since it's coming out of their pocket) but they may also be less likely to go for mammograms and colonscopies, things which have been shown to prevent cancer down the line.

    2) As it is, there may be a shortage of MDs in the near future, especially in primary care. Many MDs are retiring from the baby boom generation and new MDs avoid primary care due to the relatively low reimbursement, long hours, and complex patients. (The same amount of time, energy, and money put into an MD would translate into a greater amount of money and perhaps an easier lifestyle when used for an MBA.)

    In some states, due to malpractice costs, some practices have closed. Some areas don't have acces to a neurosurgeon or a high-risk pregnancy specialist. Overhead costs translate to it being more expensive and risky to see patients than to not see them.

    3) In many nationalized health care systems, you can still use your own money to pay for private/extra care but the nationalized system is there for everyone.
  9. goldengoddess

    goldengoddess New Member

    Our current system is all about $$, and who's getting it? Not the doctors, the insurance and pharmacutical companies!!! Socialized medicine is scary, but anything is better then making 30,000 a year and having to shell out $600 a month for your family to recieve a crappy benefits that don't even cover the specialist your son needs to figure out why he has had enlarged tonsils for the last three years. Oh yeah, the tonsilectomy is only covered partially as well!!

    Anything is better then having to listen to my step-son snoring and waking from nightmares because he can't breathe in the middle of the night! It would also be grand to not have to pay out of pocket for a psychiatrist, (about $145 each visit) because they don't cover mental health because it's too costly! Oh yeah, they cover mental health, it's just no p-doc will take that coverage because they end up dening it anyways!

    I welcome Socialized Health Care. Heck, we've already talked about moving 90 miles north to Vancouver, BC!
  10. wyattsmom

    wyattsmom New Member

    and flies home every couple months to be treated for MS. They put her on a waiting list for 2 years in London....ridiculous....We do not need socialized medicine, it will hurt us who need so much care!
  11. tansy

    tansy New Member

    and that's why we are having problems in the UK. A lot of the money is being wasted because the Govt has set targets and the system requires too much expensive admin.

    I spoke to a friend who now lives in France; she cannot believe the difference. Although they are having problems due to rising costs France's socialised health care is an example of how well it can work.

    Good socialised health care is morally right but its success varies from one country to another.

  12. GinnyB

    GinnyB New Member

    I've been on Medicare for 5 years now. During that time I've been in 4 different hospitals, had 6 surgeries, and saw about 20 different doctors. I chose my doctors, changed them if I disagreed with them, and needed no referrals to do so. My total medical bills during those 5 years was $60 for a tetanus shot that I get once every 10 years.

    Because I have too much income to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to pay for my medications, I got in the state (PA) PACENET program. I now have co-pays of $15 for brand name drugs and $8 for generics.

    Insurance premiums for me and my husband are slightly under $6000 a year. Not cheap, but I've already used over $7000 worth of drugs this year. I have fibromyalgia, asthma, coronary artery disease, a pacemaker (paid for by Medicare), collagenous colitis, osteoarthritis, and neurally mediated hypotension.

    Every year several thousand Americans die because they can't afford private health insurance, but have too much income to qualify for Medicaid. We desperately need a national health plan that would cover everyone. I like one proposal that would give everyone the choice of going on a plan much like Medicare, staying with the plan offered by his employer, or, if his employer doesn't offer health insurance as a benefit, going on Medicaid. If, after a few years, most people prefer the government plan, then Medicare would be extended to cover all Americans.

    Since Medicare operates with a very low overhead, the overall cost of health care for all Americans would drop dramatically.

    Hasten the day.

    [This Message was Edited on 11/04/2007]
  13. wrthster

    wrthster New Member

    The current system which is not socialiazed is a huge disastor. And it is not only because of profit margins good and bad doctors make. There are a lot of bad doctors, I have seen the ones that do take insurance, don't , and some who only take Medicare. In fact, if you want to talk about Socialized Medicine, than I will pose the question why do doctors who will except no other insurance accept Medicare? There are many specialty labs as well who will not take anything but Medicare.

    Medicare is socialized yet a lot of doctors seem to prefer it to many of the private insurers. The other thing is many on the board are on SSDI. They have no other choice. Even with Medicare add in Part D and supplemental and it is a ridicoulous amount of money.

    I think the biggest problem here is the Drug companies. The insurance companies seem to be able to regulate everything else but the pharmaceuticals. That is because for 14+ years they are not allowed competition and are under complete patent protection. That is where I am willing to bet the biggest cost to insurance companies comes from. That is why there is a donut whole in Part-D.

    Unless this issue is addressed, and Pharmaceutical companies are controlled the way doctors and other services are no matter what type of system you put in it will fail. The Pharmaceutical Drugs are what needs really to be looked out to get things in line. Someone needs to take on the big drug companies and put a cap on the amount charged.