Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A cartoonist's view of the health care reform hoo-hah

Peter Dunlap-Shohl, former editorial cartoonist for the Anchorage Daily News, has a new blog on health care issues and reform: Gurney to the Dark Side. Check it out: he takes a grim subject and puts a bit of much-needed levity into it while skewering the absurdities of our current health care system with that pen of his.

Monday, May 18, 2009

An example that Alaska should not follow

In the May Dose of Reality, Neil Davis examines the results of the Massachusetts Health Reform Law of 2006. In short, the reform has failed.
There is of course a reason for the failure. The framers of the Massachusetts legislation refused to address head-on the major problem with American health care: the control exerted upon it by the private for-profit health insurance industry. They did not just ignore the problem, they exacerbated it by giving the industry even more power than it had before to dictate to many more Massachusetts residents who gets health care and how much.
Davis warns that this may be relevant to Alaskans' health care future because
Despite the failure of the Massachusetts health insurance reform, Alaska may find itself led down the same garden path to higher health care costs and decreasing access to health care. An attempt to push the state in that unfortunate direction was made in the 2008 legislative session by the introduction of SB 160. The sponsors emphasized that the bill was patterned after the Massachusetts legislation enacted earlier. Senate Bill 160 failed to pass the senate, but Senators Hollis French and Johnny Ellis, both Democrats, resurrected it as SB 61 (short-titled Mandatory Universal Health Insurance) during the just-concluded 2009 session. Although SB 61 went through several hearings, it was in committee when the session ended and is still alive for consideration during the next legislative session.

Friday, May 15, 2009

A comparison of single-payer and multi-payer systems

The United States uses a multi-payer, for-profit health care system, with some elements that are not for profit, such as Medicare. Our system is administered privately, and operates from a market-based view, i.e., that health care is a commodity. Canada, on the other hand, uses a single-payer system that, while still for-profit, is administered publicly, and operates from the assumption that health care is a right. Our system is financially out of control, and incredibly wasteful and complex. Canada's is fairly simple, and far less expensive. Not only that, Canada's system is rated as better by the World Health Organization than is ours.

The recent hearings in Congress on possible reform measures, headed by Senator Max Baucus, have one striking feature: proponents of instituting a single-payer system in the US have not been invited to participate. Thus, protestors, representing organizations such as the California Nurses Association and Physicians for a National Health Care Program, have taken to interrupting the proceedings to make their point.

Below are two graphic representations of just why our system is so expensive and Canada's is so much cheaper, and yet still outperforms ours. These are taken from Neil Davis' book.