Thursday, March 28, 2019

The Reality of Socialized Medicine and Medicare for All

We've heard talk lately about "Medicare for All" - the most recent proposal in which the federal government provides so-called "free" healthcare insurance to all Americans. It's just another version of socialized medicine modeled after Canada's. 

Courtesy: Wikipedia
Previously, I've posted about my dislike for socialized medicine and why I feel the way I do. The question now is, what is the reality of socialized medicine? A recent titled "What Socialized Medicine Looks Like" answers that question by sharing details about Canada's program. I hope you will read that entire article. However, below are some of the highlights:
  1. Primary care doctors in Canada provide fewer services than their counterparts in the U.S. forcing people to go to ERs more often. Average Canadian ER wait = 4 hours.
  2. Number of Canadian women to never have a mammogram = double the number of American women. Has led to the breast cancer mortality rate in Canada being 25% higher than U.S. rate.
  3. Less than 20% of Canadian men have ever been screened for prostrate cancer. 50% of American men have. Has led to Canadian prostate cancer mortality rate being 18% higher than the U.S.'s.
  4. Canadian adults who've had a colonoscopy = 10%. American adults = 30%. Canadian death rate from colorectal cancer is 13% higher than U.S.
  5. Americans are more likely to get treatment for kidney failure (i.e. dialysis or transplant) than those in countries with socialized medicine - 5 times more likely if under 85 years old and 9 times more likely if over 85. People who do not get such treatment will DIE.
  6. Average Canadian wait time after referral from primary care doctor until get to see specialist = 21 weeks (over 5 months).
  7. Average Canadian wait time for CT scan = 4 weeks.
  8. Average Canadian wait time for MRI = nearly 11 weeks (nearly 3 months).
  9. Average Canadian wait time for ultrasound = nearly 4 weeks. 
  10. At 21% of Canadian hospitals, a woman must wait over 3 weeks for a biopsy to confirm a possible breast cancer diagnosis. Only 1% of American hospitals have a wait time that long.
  11. At half of Canadian hospitals, a 65 year old must wait over 6 months for a hip replacement. No American hospitals have wait times that long.
Additionally, in Canada, the powerful and rich have more access to specialists and services, more choices, and shorter waiting times. In fact, the poor, non-elderly white population is 22% more likely than similarly situated Americans to be in poor health.

The article also tells of problems within Britain's socialized medicine program. However, I chose to focus on Canada here primarily because it is our next door neighbor.

Some Americans support socialized medicine. Generally, the ones who do are healthy. However, one day each of them could fall victim to illness, accident, or injury they never expected. If that day comes, that's also the time they will fall victim to the pitfalls of socialized medicine as it's generally the sick and weak who have their care rationed in order to save money, because socialized medicine plans are expensive to administer. The cost is also the main reason socialized medicine plans usually fail.

So, knowing what you now know, do you really want socialized medicine and / or "Medicare for All" in the U.S.? 

Friday, March 8, 2019

Living Donor Protection Act of 2019

Last month, I shared with my readers (here) about a new, proposed Kansas law that would ban discrimination against living donors by health and life insurance companies. At that time, I also called on Congress and President Trump to pass a similar Federal law.

I've since learned that such a law is in process. Known as the Living Donor Protection Act of 2019, the legislation is sponsored in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D- NY) and Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA). It's sponsors in the U.S. Senate are Sen. Kirsten Gilibrand (D-NY) and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR).

The legislation will do 3 things:
  1. Life, disability, and long-term care insurance companies would be prohibited from charging higher premiums to, or denying or limiting coverage to living donors.
  2. The 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) will be amended to include living donation as a serious health condition. Therefore, employee absences for living donation at both public and private employers will now be covered under that law. 
  3. U.S. Dept. of Human Services will be instructed to update all it's materials concerning organ donation to reflect the new requirement. DHS will also have to encourage people to be organ donors.
I found the actual text of this legislation here, and I see one problem with it - it does NOT address health insurance. Health insurance MUST be included as part of #1 above. If it's not, living donors will get hammered by the health insurance industry. You say, "But ObamaCare's pre-existing condition clause has that covered." What if ObamaCare was to get "repealed and replaced" at some point? What then. I'll tell you what - living donors will get screwed by health insurance providers claiming "pre-existing condition". Mark it down. It's a safe bet.

Here is all the information about the bill on the Congressional website. 

I'm glad this law has been proposed. It's way past time. It needs to be passed into law promptly, but with the amendment described above. Once properly amended, it should be a no-brainer, quick vote. All 535 members of Congress should be able to vote 'yes' and President Trump then sign it. This legislation transcends party lines and politics, because it's simply the right thing to do.

Read More: article titled "American Kidney Fund Urges Congress to Make 2019 the Year Living Donor Protection Act Becomes Law"