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Monday, October 15, 2007

Wyden health care plan makes national splash

It isn't exactly news, but the attention it's getting may be. This description of it is pretty sketchy, but it sounds as though you wouldn't be insured through work any more, and you'd be guaranteed at least a minimum level of coverage. It looks from this as though Earl the Pearl and Hawk Baird are also behind it.

Some of the heavy fine print is here.

Comments (7)

I think Ron has devised something that may represent a practical compromise. It's hard to argue that private insurers' involvement is beneficial to a comprehensive health scheme (given that insurers' administrative costs are as eight or ten times as high as the government's cost of administering Medicare), but any effort to cut them out of this lucrative market is bound to be difficult and maybe impossible at this stage. I have some disagreements with Ron Wyden as my senator, but I think that on health care, foreign policy and (now that he's given up the elimination of the estate tax) tax policy, he's pretty much on target.

You bet Allan, get ready for all the benefits of the Canadian Health care system INCLUDING all the long waiting times. Think of medical care with all the efficiency of the DMV (or maybe combining it with the post office will bring to mind what it will be like).

However, I did see one escape clause for me - something about I can get around it for religious reasons - now where did I put my copy of the Catechism ... if I interpret certain sections like some judges interpret the law, I just might get around this pig.

Kidding aside, national health care is a disgrace when it comes to real health care emergencies and needs. It does great if all you are talking about is preventative medicine - personally, my concern is when I NEED it, not necessarily just to keep me healthy.

Yes, the Canadian system would be much better for the U.S. over all, judging by general health outcomes. The DMV analogy is good -- our DMV is pretty efficient, allowing most transactions to be done on line from one's desk, and involving (in my own experience, which admittedly is limited) reasonable waiting times and competent service. A Medicare analogy is even better. Putting to one side the Bush give-away to the pharmaceutical companies and insurers, Medicare has been a cheap and effective system for delivery of health care to those over 65, costing only a tiny franction of what insurance programs cost to administer. Some younger people also get very good health care in the U.S. but at ridiculous expense and considerable risk. My own experience with the current system (and I have reasonably good health and coverage) is mostly unsatisfactory (I'm speaking of the system, not the doctors and nurses and technicians). native oregonian, your panicky objections seem to be all emotion and no facts.

Allan - do a google search using 'Canadian Health care wait times' (without the quotes) as your search words and see what you come up with? Article after article regarding how long the wait times are. There are even wait times to get on the waiting list.

My experience with health care in the US (and I'm in good health with a fair health insurance coverage) has been very good. My wait times are more in line with a few hours, the Canadians drool over statements like that. I had some very urgent, but not life-threatening surgery that needed to be done, I was in getting operated on the next day. Try that one in Canada, the UK or any other socialistic country - it don't happen.

If you like socialistic health care, then instead of changing our system, maybe moving to one of those countries would be easier and more to your liking (until a serious operation on you was needed that is).

No, it's not just emotion, it's some serious looking up of facts.

Hey all... Wyden's plan has very little in common with the Canadian health care system.

I'd suggest a little reading at Wyden's site.

Full disclosure: My firm manages the site for Senator Wyden, but I speak only for myself.

Kari -
I did read the link that Jack had to Wyden's plan. Bottom line was YOU WILL HAVE INSURANCE AND THIS IS THE MINIMUM IT WILL CONTAIN !!!!! When the 300 lb gorilla (ie the government) with it's money sits down at the table, how many 'private' companies will be able to compete? When employers start looking at the fact that rather than dealing with insurance companies to get the best plan/deal, we don't really have to - just have everyone go on the government plan and I'll have complied with all the government mandates. There is little incentive EXCEPT to go the way the government wants it. And looking at it from that point of view it (the government mandated system) will become overburdened like it is in all socialist systems and there you go. There are other ways to get healthcare to people, but Wyden and others are too committed to having us become socialists for them to see anything but government, government and more government. As President Ronald Reagan once said, "Government is not the solution, it is the problem."

native oregonian is wrong on several counts. First is that overall satisfaction among Canadians with their healthcare and healthcare access (including waiting times) is FAR higher than U.S. satisfaction.

native oregonian makes it sounds as if there are extensive waits for time-sensitive medically necessary care in Canada. This is false. The comparatively longer waiting periods are for non-urgent elective care. Some of these can involve substantial inconvenience, discomfort or pain, e.g. joint replacements, and such classifications are always subject to debate. But it's not like we don't face similar classification issues in the U.S. private system imposed by private bureaucracies.

Further, "waiting times" in the U.S. depend very much on what insurance you have at any given time. Canadian emergency room waiting times are much shorter on average because the system doesn't misdirect people to emergency rooms as our system does.

My daughter had an allergic reaction to a peanut cookie on a weekend when her regular doctor's office was closed. We took her to the peds ER at Emmanuel & waited for a couple-three hours. By the time we saw the doc, her symptoms had gone away, so he could only give us retrospective advice, which was to keep Benadryl on hand. Fortunately she had a regular appointment a couple of weeks later and when her pediatrician heard her breathing had been compromised she referred us to an allergist, from whom we discovered that her level of allergy was potentially fatal (anaphylactic shock). If the ER doc had seen her sooner, we might have got this information sooner. If we didn't happen to have good insurance for pediatric care, an appointment coincidentally soon, and a vigilant pediatrician, our daughter's possibly fatal allergy might have gone undiagnosed. A Canadian type system would have made our discovery depend less on luck.

A whole hell of a lot of people in the U.S. in effect wait forever because they don't try to get treatment at all, because they aren't insured. Others wait far too long before seeking treatment because of high deductibles or pre-existing condition exclusions (some of which are not absolute but exclude you for the first six months or year you are on a plan) resulting in more complex, more costly & less effective treatment. Others wait for HMO approval and/or appeals of HMO denials of approval. Others don't get the "elective" treatments some Canadians complain about waiting for because they aren't covered at all under the less expensive of private plans in the U.S.

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