Health care seems to be the major topic of the day so let me throw out a little history to see exactly how we ended up in this sinking boat. Some time ago schools required students to participate in gym class at least three days a week. They also encouraged after school sports. This was at a time when TV was so new that it wasn't on most of the time so kids would grab a football or baseball and head to the streets to play before dinner. In the summer it was out to play some more after dinner. Hide and seek, stoop tag and army were some of the favorites back then. All involved a great deal of running. Meals were different then too. Fast food was something that was relegated to special occasions when you went to the roller rink or ball game which wasn't very often. Soda came in either 8 or 12 oz bottles. If it was 12 you only got to drink half because you had to share it with a brother or sister. Milk or juice was the beverage of the day back then. No fried or high carb foods were served back then unless it was chicken or spaghetti and even then there was a salad or green veggie that went with it. Desert in summer was fruit. Schools had no vending machines and the only beverage they sold at lunch was a half pint of milk.
So now we contrast that with what's happened. Kids hunker down to watch their favorite cable movie or hit the web to IM their friends. And let's not forget the snacks. Grab a twenty four oz. cola and a bag of chips so you can eat with one hand and type with the other. That's three times the cola and about six times the chips (bags used to be 1 oz.) than were eaten in the past with no offsetting exersize to burn it off.
How did the health care system get where it is now. I may have mentioned this before but I'll repeat it. Our system back in the fifties was mostly non profit as were the insurance companies. And stop to consider this was at a time when we had a baby boom so hospitals were in the process of expanding. It wasn't until the coming of HMOs started by Nixon that there was any strain on the system. There were entire charity support groups who volunteered their time and raised money to help offset some of the costs. Doctors back then did something unheard of in today's market. They charged their wealthy patients a bit more to cover the costs for those who couldn't pay. There was also grants and special loans and payment terms. All you had to do was stop by the billing department and they would set you up with a payment plan (with no interest charges by the way). And that was true up through the 70s.
The cost of going to an ER wouldn't scare you to death like today. Even private hospitals back then would accomodate most people even if you weren't J. Gotrocks Jr.
So where do we go from here. At present this country spends $2 trillion dollars on health care each year. If we can get that figure down to $1.2 trillion then it would amount to about 10% of our GDP which is a managable figure. To do that we'll need to eliminate the many layers of administrators and bean counters who do nothing more than add to the cost. Patient info could be kept safely on a portable flash drive or card with biometric security. That would save a ton of money right there. A copay by working people of $50 for a doctors vist or $100 for emergency room visit would help pay a bit of the costs.
At present we pay well over $6000 per year per person for health care. It's Obama's hope to get that down to $4500. Here's an idea. Have the employer pay 1/3 of that which would cut his costs by 2/3. All workers would be charged 1/3 as a payroll deduction much like medicare and social security and that would cover him when he out of work as well as covering the uninsured. The final 1/3 could be covered by a small federal sales tax. That would fill in any gaps. It works out to $30 per week for a worker and I don't know where you could get any type of insurance for that little right now.
There should be a public option and if it works out right unions just might switch to it if the insurers they have now don't become more competetive.
Well it's a thought.