I have chosen you randomly, from my book of business, to help me in an upcoming speech I am committed to give late next week in Chicago. With the impending Health Care Reform debate raging on in Washington, the Heartland Institute has been bringing the dialog and conversation to different cities to try and make sense of it all. Obviously, I favor a free-market approach to the problem and they (the Heartland Institute) want to hear about what I do and, more importantly, about you…my clients.
I am asking you to take a few minutes and answer the following five questions and reply back as soon as possible:
1. What is the deductible on your high deductible health plan (HDHP)?
2. Roughly, what is the balance in your HSA?
3. Do you regularly use HSA dollars to buy healthcare?
4. Besides rate hikes, do you like your HSA (policy and account)?
5. Do you think you have saved quite a bit of money through the years by going to this model (HSA)?
Here was my reply:
- Not regularly.
- I think my HSA performs as I would expect. To me, that’s much like asking an AIDS patient if he likes his drugs; yes, they are working as expected, but I would prefer not to need this solution.
- Again, given the options that I had available in the US, I think using an HSA probably has saved me money; but I am one of the people in the privileged group who has been able to take advantage to do so. As I just found when I tried to switch insurance and was denied by another carrier because my doctor prescribed Vitamin B pills for me for a month, it is very easy to slip from privileged status to no healthcare status at all.
As for the Heartland institute, I’ve seen some of their ‘discussions’ and if you’ll forgive me, they are not interested in anything but finding new ways to support their free market mythologies so they can continue to get paid by businesses to help them keep gouging consumers for ridiculous profits. I mean, how can anyone take them seriously; these are people that are still desperately working day by day to come up with excuses to deny climate change. If it was thirty years ago, they’d be in the front lines assuring consumers that cigarettes had no proven health risks and were an important part of the American spirit. The only thing “Heartland” about their institute is where most of their victims are.
But hey, maybe they are different now, so I went to their site to see what “information” they were going to provide to the public. Needless to say, their new ad campaign is the same tired lies that they tried to use for the last several decades:
- "The doctor won't see you now. . .maybe next month" – The most ridiculous lies about how the evil government is going to start rationing care once the good and kind private insurance companies have been driven from the land. Nothing showing a hint of fact. No discussion about the current rationing of care by private insurance companies. No facts or figures about how Canada or Britain is ‘rationing’ healthcare or how these poor government controlled patients manage to still have far, far better medical outcomes than US patients.
- "Meet your new doctor (clown)" – And on to the next secret conspiracy myth: Once your ‘protectors’, companies like Kaizer Permanente, have been swept aside, the government will follow through on their next super-double-secret plan to “replace your doctor with a government employee…take over hospitals and private medical practices,” which apparently means that the wonderful people at Heartland feel our soldiers, intelligence agents, mail carriers and other public servants are best characterized as clowns. Disgusting.
- Single Payer – Here of course, they really don’t have any wiggle room to fudge statistics or frame the debate, so the Heartland Institute just out and out lies: “The problems with single-payer health systems are many. They violate the freedom of consumers to choose doctors and treatments. They fuel unnecessary health care spending and price inflation, which can be stopped only with rationing by waiting. They create massive new government bureaucracies and increase administrative costs, waste, and fraud. And their costs destroy millions of jobs.” When you look at the facts, (like with global climate change) there really is no debate, which is why they can’t even come close to telling the truth.
- Single payer offers more freedom to choose doctors and treatments than patients currently have with HMOs, PPOs and even HSA plans, all of which limit choices of doctors and hospitals.
- Health care costs have grown astronomically in the US under private insurers, while costs have been maintained under single payer plans around the world.
- Patients every day in the US are kept from treatment while their doctors go through complicated claims procedures, in some cases, fatally. Where are the stories of patients from other countries that died because their healthcare system didn’t approve their treatment, or forced the patient to be shipped to another hospital for treatment, or because they had to wait due to emergency rooms clogged with the uninsured? I could list you a hundred from this country inside of an hour.
- The consolidation of medical insurance to a single payer who uses a single, consistent method of claims would reduce the current bureaucracy that almost every US citizen has experienced, reduce administrative costs by billions of dollars and reduce waste and fraud now conducted by those working in the chaos between the dizzying array of plans and procedures. Not only patient rights groups, nurses and doctors are claiming this, but the GAO studies themselves in black and white.
- Taking the crushing costs of healthcare off of employers backs will create jobs in every sector in this country, particularly for small businesses who statistically employ more workers in better jobs and have to pay far larger costs for healthcare. Not only would a single payer system benefit companies domestically, but it would make our corporations more competitive in the world market, where universal healthcare is a standard.
I wonder, with 60% of the country being in favor of a single payer, 'Medicare for all' type system, including a majority of dcctors; will the Heartland Institute have a proponent of it there to help them have an honest and open discussion of healthcare options?