If Terrence Wall thinks health care ain’t broke, he should think again

Back in September 2009, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Terrence Wall opined, “We have the best health care system in the world,” in reference to the American health care system, and while the American health care system certainly isn’t terrible, it’s far from perfect. Putting aside the millions of Americans who don’t have health insurance coverage – and therefore don’t benefit from the system – there’s also the issue of skyrocketing health insurance premiums. I’ve already noted the effort by Anthem Blue Cross to jack health insurance rates up by 39% in California, and here in Wisconsin (and 13 other states) Wellpoint, the parent company of Anthem Blue Cross, is implementing double-digit rate hikes. The fact is, our health care system isn’t fine as it is; it’s in need of some serious fine-tuning.

Oh, and someone ought to tell Terrence Wall that while the statement “‘Health care for all’ is really rationed health care” makes for a great talking point, we don’t need a “government takeover” of our health care system to have rationed care – we’re already there. While Terrence Wall and his fellow conservatives are fond of the “government bureaucrat making your health care decisions” bogeyman, our current system isn’t much different, with the exception that the bureaucrat making your health care decisions now works for a private insurance company and isn’t motivated by what’s best for the policyholder, but rather what’s best for the insurance company’s bottom line.


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7 thoughts on “If Terrence Wall thinks health care ain’t broke, he should think again

  1. Our health care system is the best in the world at treating problems. The problem is we do not focus on prevention. Perhaps, it is because someone else (insurance, medicaid, medicare) pays for treatment but individuals pay for the disease prevention (e.g. healthy eating, lifestyle choices).

    1. Not to mention, it is the “some one else is paying” that is one of the biggest contributors to the out of control costs. When someone else pays for anything, it’s guaranteed to inflate the cost.

      1. Exactly…. when folks without health insurance use the emergency room for their medical care, no matter how serious or inconsequential their issue might be, that cost gets passed on to the rest of us in the form of a rate hike.

        1. Agreed. Same also goes for individuals who have coverage – be it an HMO through their employer, medicare or whatever who do similar. Or base their medical decisions on wants rather than needs. And doctors prescribe or do unnecessary test because the patient isn’t paying for it. And actually, as much as everybody hates co-pays, there probably one of the few things that have had any success helping control costs. In particular, the difference between emergency & regular office visit co-pays is a very effective way to make people take a minute to make a good decision. We’ve done this a number of times: “Is this really something that needs immediate attention or will it be OK to wait?” The higher emergency room co-pay meant skipping the ER on a weekend when I blew out my ACL because there was nothing an ER doc would do that couldn’t wait for my regular doc to do & she would just refer me on to an Orthopedic Surgeon anyway. On the other side, when I split my eyebrow open, saving the extra money wasn’t worth it when it needed a dozen stitches to be closed up.

          Any health care reform that doesn’t reward/nudge/force people to be good, informed consumers of health care will be a failure.

      2. Locke,

        Not many people know what you seem to realize. The problem with healthcare could be easily fixed. If we remove much of the third party payer system than patients will think twice before unnecessarily using healthcare. For example I have a $6k deductible for my family and a health savings account with is tax free.

        See, I would not take my children to the ER for a cough which is very common esp among patients with government coverage. They do not care who is paying the bill! They have no skin in the game.

        Zach, your point about people not having insurance and using the ER is valid but overblown. Those patients still are charged but never pay. If they would just wait (most cases are not emergencies) and see a primary doctor the next day not only would that save the system money the patient would receive better care. And yes many systems, including the one I work for will see patients who do not have coverage.

        I am not trying to single out poor people. This goes for everyone, even people using Medicare need to have some financial input. If they had to make choices based on $ we could turn this healthcare ship around in a month. Government run healthcare is not the answer. Medicare already has $40 trillion in unfunded mandates!

        1. Kent, what you don’t seem to understand is that the reason most folks without insurance visit E.R.’s instead of primary doctors is because they 1.) don’t have a primary doctor because they lack insurance, and 2.) can’t be refused to be seen by the E.R., while they can be refused by a primary doctor if they don’t have the financial means to pay for services.

          I don’t know what “system” you’re in, but my wife works in the medical field, and she can’t think of a single system in which primary care physicians will see individuals who don’t have insurance and can’t afford to pay for services.

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