Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Newt Gingrich's Saving Lives & Saving Money 2

What I liked in my latest reading of Newt Gingrich's Saving Lives & Saving Money: Transforming Health and Healthcare is that it differed from some of the usual conservative talking-points that I hear.

Many conservatives love to argue that there are long waiting-periods in Canada and other countries that have single-payer national health insurance, but Newt (although he does not favor single-payer national health insurance) points out that there are long waiting periods in the United States to see a doctor, in a number of cases. Many conservatives hold that the number of uninsured people in America is far less than 42 million, but Newt sticks with the 41.2 million figure, which is based on Census Bureau numbers. Many conservatives have maintained that the vast majority of Americans are satisfied with their health insurance and the U.S. health care system in general, but Newt highlights increasing dissatisfaction, and he contends that the quality of U.S. health care could be better. Some conservatives have said that health insurance should only be catastrophic and that its coverage of other things is what contributes to high premiums, but Newt acknowledges the importance of preventative care, in terms of both health and also the cost of health care.

Newt is still a conservative, for he criticizes the large role that the government plays in the U.S. health care system. Overall, Newt would like for the system to focus on the doctor and the patient, and he does not care for third-parties paying for health care. The result of third-party payers, as he notes, is that you have the insurance companies and the government, which want to control the amount of money that they spend on health care. In the case of the insurance companies, this is to maximize profits for the companies and the shareholders; in the case of the government, it may be to keep government spending for health care under control to prevent deficits or to allow money to be spent on other things. You have the doctors, who want to make more money. As Newt notes, if the government or the insurance company pays less per visit by patients, then the doctors will simply find ways to schedule more visits! And then you have the patients, who are dissatisfied with the care that they are getting.

I think that third-party payers are a problem, but I cannot think of any alternative, for the reason that these payers exist in the first place is that health care is expensive. I tend to trust the government more than private insurance companies seeking to maximize their profits, however, for I recall Howard Dean saying that, when he was a doctor, dealing with the government was much easier than dealing with private insurance companies, in terms of getting his patients the care that they needed. Perhaps there's more to the issue than this, though.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Search This Blog