Monday, May 14, 2012

The Problem with Universal Access to Care – Access to What?
The international drive to provide healthcare for all is leaving America behind.
Noam N. Levey,  “Global Push to Guarantee Health Coverage is Leaving U.S, Behind?” LA Times, May 14, 2012
May 14, 2012 – There is absolutely no doubt about it.  Universal coverage guaranteed by government is an extremely seductive dream and a powerful political draw. 
Become ill, no problem.  The government will take care of you.  Need a doctor, no problem.  Government will provide one.  Need a life staving procedure, no problem.   Fear going bankrupt from paying a doctor or hospital?  Again, no problem,  Government will protect you under any and all circumstances.  
Don’t all those other advanced Western economies – Europe, Canada, Brazil,  Austrialia, New Zealand , Chile, and others offer universal  coverage at half our costs?  And aren’t even those economies  afflicted with poverty – Canada, Mexico, Thailand  among others – pushing for universal  coverage?
You bet they are.  Universal coverage and access has a political appeal few national leaders can resist. 
But  what are the unintended consequences beyond the good intentions?  
·       Access to what? 
·       At what human costs and inconvenieces? 
·       Long waiting lines? 
·       Denial of  coverage to expensive drugs and treatments?
·       Mind-boggling bureaucracies? 
·       Government experts making clinical decisions?
·        Lack of access to CTs scan,  MRI imaging, life saving cancer drugs, hip and knee replacments? 
·       Clinical decision making by experts in Washington rather than your own doctor?
·        Limited and narrowing choices of health plans and doctors? 

·       Economic stagnation and high unemployment  like that now being experienced in Europe due to the overwhelming  dead economic weight of social welfare programs that have overpromised and under delivered  because of lack  of funds?   
·       Unexpected consequences  of over-centralized federal control – rampant fraud and abuse, denial of high tech care,  employers saying  they can’t afford to place employers in comprehensive expensive government program.
·       States complaining  they can’t afford million s more Medicare recipients?  
·       Diminished choice of health plans and doctors?
·       Physician shortages coupled with doctors not accepting Medicare and Medicaid patients because they can’t  afford to care for these patients? 
What’s a citizen to do?  What’s a politician to do?  Who can your trust?
My answer?  Let the people decide.  That’s what elections are for. Then let's on with what they - the people - decide.
While you're waiting for election results or contemplating how to vote,  you might want to read The Truth About Obamacare, Canadian expatriate, Sally Pipe's,  harrowing downside tale of Canada's health system and why prominent Canadian politicians have fled South for life-saving care.

The U.S, and most other countries offer different levels of access to different products.   The U.S. offers immediate access to high tech specialized care for 85% of its citizens and universal ER care.  Most other countries offer delayed sometime rationed access to mostly primary but  less specialized care to all of its citizens.
Tweet: Rich nations with universal access can’t  pay for their programs, Poor nations are pushing  universal access.  Question is:  Access to what?

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