Thursday, December 10, 2009

OPINION: We Want Good Health Care

By Doug May

Health care is a very personal thing and we want to have good choices. I want to be able to choose my doctor. I don’t want to be told by my medical insurance company that I can only go to certain doctors and specific health care facilities. I want competition among the insurance companies so I can choose what is best for me and my family. I don’t care if my doctor makes as much as a basketball coach. If he is good he deserves it. I don’t want his income to be regulated. I want my doctor to be free from the dictates of insurance companies so we can decide together what is the best treatment for my situation. I don’t want my doctor to fear malpractice law suits that force him to prescribe certain tests of questionable value. The doctor and patient should talk over the pros and cons of various procedures and not be under pressure from outside forces.
Health care insurers should be free to set their rates according to the risks for each person. The one who does not smoke and drink, is not overweight and not involved in some other risky practice should pay a lower rate. Auto insurance varies according to varying risks.
I want the really needy to have health care. Not all of the 31 million without health insurance are really needy. That number is closer to 7 million. The State or County should run health care clinics to provide care on a sliding scale according to one’s ability to pay. This should not be a federal program. Counties and states have a better understanding of the needs in their areas. Emergency rooms in hospitals should not be used for health issues that can be handled by clinics and other emergency care facilities. Catastrophic health insurance should also be provided on a sliding scale on the basis of one’s ability to pay.
I will have more choices if I can pay into a medical savings plan instead of paying Social Security taxes. Such savings should not be taxed. There will be greater freedom if each employee purchases his own insurance rather than it being provided by the employer. This would eliminate the problem that arises when one looses his job or takes another. I want to be free to buy what ever kind of insurance I think is best for me. The government should not fear that people will not properly take care of themselves. All of us will have to seek information and advice from others to make good choices and that advice will be available from many sources, including labor unions, employers, AARP, insurance companies, and others.
All of the federal health programs need to be phased out gradually. Even the federal government admits that there is much fraud and corruption in the system. This would take time, but now is the time to start. This alone would save us billions of dollars each year. Most Americans want less government, not more. Why are our senators and representatives not moving in that direction? I believe there are three main factors. They are not listening to the people, they are influenced by the lobbyists and the party leaderships that pressure their members to fall in line.
Changes will not come until the people pay closer attention and speak up, individually and collectively. If our representatives are sure of our active support for doing the right thing, then they can resist these other pressures in Washington. Forego watching the first half of that football game and write Senator Bingaman and Senator Udall and Representative Teague.

Doug May is a retired Lutheran pastor and his views do not necessarily represent the Mountain Mail.

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