Tuesday, August 11, 2009

"Death Panels" and Obamacare...

Democrats have their panties in a wad over comments made by Sarah Palin on her Facebook page. Here is the portion that resonated with me and many Americans:

The Democrats promise that a government health care system will reduce the cost of health care, but as the economist Thomas Sowell has pointed out, government health care will not reduce the cost; it will simply refuse to pay the cost. And who will suffer the most when they ration care? The sick, the elderly, and the disabled, of course. The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s “death panel” so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their “level of productivity in society,” whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.

I got a taste of this during my Father's final months on earth. Even at 91, almost 92, he was alert and sharp. He had slipped and broke his hip going to the restroom while in the hospital for a serious inner ear infection. They replaced his hip and he went on to rehabilitation and was preparing to move in with my sister.

The nursing home where he was doing the rehab continued to find things "wrong" with my Father. When I questioned why certain tests or medicine was necessary, I received a flippant response such as "don't worry, Medicare pays for it." That wasn't my question or my concern. My Father had supplemental insurance and would pay for whatever he needed. My question was more about the comfort and care of my Father. A man who had cooked and fed himself for the last 30 years was suddenly deemed a "choke risk" and given a feeding tube! Was this really helping him or the nursing home? I really felt the decisions being made at the nursing home were in the financial best interests and convenience of the nursing home and not my Father.

My Father got a bad case of pneumonia while at the nursing home and languished there before we insisted that they take him to the hospital. The nursing home had pushed all sorts of "what if" end of life scenarios on us and I did not trust them to give my Dad a fighting chance which is all he wanted.

In the hospital ICU, the staff was excellent, going above and beyond to provide care and treatment to get my Father back on his feet. But there was also the end of life planning always entering the equation. My Father was on a ventilator, but was sharp and aware. Aside from his lungs, he was remarkably fit for a 90+ year old. The first attempt to remove the ventilator caused my Father to slip. My Father decided that the next attempt would be the last, since the next progression would probably leave him permanently attached to tubes and wires, and he did not want to "live" that way.

The Sunday we removed the ventilator was awesome. For several hours the entire family visited and laughed with my Father who had seemingly defied the odds yet again and made a remarkable recovery. He started giving orders sending the grand kids back to school and his children back to work. We headed back to our hotel to rest when the calls came. He was slipping again. We hurried back as he drifted off to sleep and into the loving arms of God.

Frankly, I'm not sure my Father would have even received a hip replacement at 91 or a host of other treatments that kept him going strong during his last two decades with us. Under Obamacare, some bureaucrat would probably have denied him numerous times in favor of someone much younger.

I provide this story to illustrate how much government involvement is already encroaching on health decisions. Hospitals, nursing homes and care givers, are making critical life decisions based on how much government provides. How much Medicaid or Medicare pays factors tremendously in the type and quantity of care offered in any given circumstance. This is the ONLY way government can control cost - by rationing it.

Hospitals and doctors then have to charge insurance companies and individuals more to make up for the shortfall from government programs and/or losses from providing care to illegals or the poor who are not on government assistance.

This will only get worse as private insurers are forced out of business and more health care providers leave the field. Rationing is ALWAYS the result of socialized care along with the end of innovation as the profit incentive is removed.

The answer is more free market options not more government. A good start is heath savings accounts (similar to FSAs) that grow tax free, compounding for the life of the individual. They grow quickly during the young years when health care needs are minimal. By the time they are near retirement age, there is a nice nest egg to cover health needs for the remainder of their lives. I would also allow individuals who die young or live long healthy lives to pass their HSAs on to their children. Build "medical wealth" that can be used by the consumers to "shop smart" for their health care needs.

Catastrophic insurance would cover those really worst case scenarios and are a better, cheaper way to manage risk instead of HMOs and PPOs. You also have to address the lottery mentality of ambulance chasing lawyers and their clients suing for malpractice. This is a huge cost for the health industry and counterproductive for society.

The bottom line is government bureaucrats will never be better at managing your money or your health than you are. You would think after 60 years of government screw ups we would learn our lesson.

And for your edification, here are some articles on the subject. Enjoy!

Call 1-800-CHEST-PAIN -- The Great Mark Steyn

No "Health Care"? -- A Little Older But Still Relevant By Thomas Sowell

Sweden's Government Health Care -- Economist Walter Williams

A Real Free Market Health Care Solution -- Awesome piece by Frank S. Rosenbloom, M.D.

Open Letter On Health Care -- The Heritage Foundation

No comments:

Post a Comment