Kerry vs. Bush on health care

Kerry is gearing up to make health care a major campaign issue. From the St. Petersburg Times, August 8, 2004 (

Let’s debate this! Who has the better health-care plan, Bush or Kerry?

What’s the debate? It’s all glued to one’s perception of what government involvement in medicine should entail.

I feel that it should only go so far as to oversee and punish fraud or gross incompetence in the medical field. Thus Bush is just a slightly lesser of two inherently gargantuan evils in this department.

I’m paying for my own heath care right now for myself and my family.

Mr. Kerry proposes that I should also pay for someone else’s family - not out of a charitable voluntary impulse, but as a matter of law.

I would say that Mr. Bush’s plan is better, because he doesn’t want to force me to cover as many people that don’t have my last name.

Paladud is partly right, it is inherently tied to your underlieing perception of what our societal role in health care is.

From my perspective we:

a) Have a societal obligation to provide some basic health care to all, just like we do for education and policing.

b) Already pay for it in various other indirect ways now but in such an irrational manner that it costs us a lot more than if we approached it rationally.

c) The way in which we currently pay for healthcare for the uninsured cost us so much, that it does a lousy job for lots of money; Bush’s plan would help some, Kerry’s more; but decreasing the burden on business somehow is needed to keep us competitive in the world economy and to decrease the drivers to outsourcing jobs.

I just don’t think either is enough.

We need to get away from the employer model entirely. Insurance must become an individual’s obligation. Couple mandated individual coverage of some basic minimal package with an insurance company mandate to provide community rating (same rate for the same product all comers except for controllable risk factors such as smoking) and tax credits based on income with a safety net for the poor (similar to our current KidCare program for pediatric coverage but expanded).

BTW Bricker. You are paying close to full retail. A large company gets it wholesale. Their discount is passed onto your price.

Now if you couldn’t afford that full retail for the insurance package, then you’d pay full retail for the healthcare itself, which only those who can’t afford it are charged. Those office visit and hospital charges aren’t anything that any insurance company actually pays … they’ve all gotten huge discount packages negotiated.

Currently the less you can afford it, the more you are charged. So you end up not ever paying in large amounts and that cost gets built into the costs of everyone else. Go figure.

It would appear that unless the uninsured are actively denied medical services then the insured effectively pay for them anyway - what an insurance company loses when someone unable to pay for their treatment declares bankruptcy has to be recouped by increased premiums, after all.

The options seem to be:[ul][li]Carry on as normal, with the increasing number of uninsured effectively pushing up premiums for the insured.[/li][li]Start denying medical treatment unless the patient can show that they will pay for it instead of going bankrupt.[/li]Raise tax.[/ul]From this European’s perspective, the first two options seem to effectively make the US a more ‘Third World’ country.

FWIW, (some may be familiar with my recent medical post)

We have full health insurance. I’ll try to make this short.

We have Blue Cross/Blue Shield. But guess what? There is only one health care provider/hospital in the area. To go to another provider you have to go 70 miles south. OK, so the ER, Urgent Care, Family Practice, OB/Gyn, et al are run by the same “system” Namely “Altru Health Sytsems”. When they bought out United they purported the name was Altru because they derived it from “alruistic”.

My fucking ass.
I called the insurance company to find out how to get a screening for adult ADD. They said they only covered this shithole, and since the “systems” didn’t have a psychology dept, I’d need a referral. Did you get that? I region of over 100k people and the main center didn’t have psychologists. :rolleyes:

So I find I need to see an M.D. OK with me, I have insurance, dammit! I made the appointment and see a GP for the first time in almost a decade, specifically telling the nurse exactly what it was for, that I needed a referral for insurance purposes. The date is set.

I show up (4 weeks ago) and wait for him in the room. After a 20 minute…wait, let me rephrase that…20 MINUTE!..consultation, he wants a CBC, thyroid check, blood sugar test (parents were diabetic) and testosterone test. What the hell, I got insurance and maybe the problem is as simple as that.

Got blood drawn (little did I know) and I was out of there with a referral.

Next week go the appt and the doc I saw said he would tell the first doc that I should see a shrink (specialist, important to money later), then see first doc again to get a script.
Then the bill came. Remember the 20 minutes with the doc where I just needed a referral? $138. Those blood tests? $196. Out of that there was $8.62 for puncturing the vein. No not lab costs, not the woman that did it, it for the actual puncturing of the vein!

I still haven’t gotten the 2nd doc’s bill and neither of them, despite 2 calls to both offices, have let me know when, who or if I’ll ever see a shrink for meds. I’m just left floating here with nowhere to go. And before you tell me to swallow the cost of another provider, those costs were after the insurance kicked in. I’ll never say a bad word about insurance companies again. It’s the health care providers that are raping us financially.

And I put it back to John Edwards and his ilk. If you think Kerry will help people like me out, think again. Of course, to the Dems I don’t count, I guess.

The question is: do we want to be the only major industrial nation without universal health care? If you think that is acceptable, then Bush is your man. If you think we can do better, then Kerry is your man. If you like the fact that there are two Americas, one in which you have a job with benefits and another where you do not, then Bush is your man. If you think that we can do better, then Kerry is your man. If you’re upset that some of your money may go to providing care for others, then I am sorry for you.

Could you expand on this? Why are John Edwards et al responsible for your high medical costs?

Please, please, please come up with something better than Kerry is a man for the common man. He’s worth more than Bush, Cheney and the vast right-wing-conspiracy.

BTW, Kerry, Bush or whomever else you want to mention can’t do a damn thing without support of Congress. :rolleyes:

Oh, do we need to kill helpless hampsters with cites of his lawsuits?

What do his lawsuits have to do with medical costs?

Personal worth of the candidates is a non-issue. Kerry and Kennedy may be wealthy, but they have dedicated their lives to helping the plight of the common man. The Bushes may not be as wealthy, but they have dedicated their lives to transferring the treasury to the wealthy. Cheney may not be as wealthy as Kerry, but Kerry is not a war profiteer.

Um, yeah, Bricker, do you have objections to the general concept of taxation for purposes other than your own direct benefit, or just with this particular use of them? If the latter, why single it out?

The uninsured generally aren’t denied service entirely; they get it when immediately necessary at hospital emergency rooms and with other services provided effectively on a *pro bono * basis. Those costs are borne by “the system”, and yes, that generally comes from increased insurance costs, paid for by the rest of us. But the uninsured don’t generally get the same preventive care, and generally have to wait until a condition progresses to the degree that an emergency room will admit them until they do get treatment. The total cost of treating the uninsured can actually be higher because of that - making a plausible argument that universal care would actually *lower *total system costs as well as spreading them more equitably.

The suggestion that government do some more governing, or that taxes would be involved, unfortunately invokes a visceral reaction among many Americans who simply aren’t interested in the accounting sheets or much else. Kerry’s proposals, just the latest version of many that have been mooted for decades, may seem pretty modest compared to the rest of the industrial world, but may in fact be all that is politically possible.

Reading about Kerry’s health plans makes me want to vote for Bush. Making me want to vote for Bush makes me mad.

Who is going to pay for Kerry’s munificence? I see it has prohibitively expensive. This country will almost certainly face serious fiscal woes in twenty to thirty year unless reforms are made to Social Security and Medicaid. Kerry’s plan would, as I see it, only exacerbate the problem.

I’m reading a booked called * Running On Empty * by Peter G. Peterson that stipulates that the Democratic and Republican parties are bankrupting America’s future by sidestepping important reform issues on Social Security and Medicaid for political gain with the voters. I don’t think an additional liability for a generous Health Plan is the way to go.

What’s so wrong with limited benefits for those with limited means to pay?

You are already paying for a large portion of it. The uninsured show up at emergency rooms for treatment, then default of the bill, which is passed on to your insurance company in the form of higher medical costs. You are going to pay, one way or the other.

Nothing wrong in any absolute sense - it just strikes the rest of the industrialised world as odd that the US would seek to become more like the Third World in this respect.

Are you saying that since uninsured patients will default on bills that medical treatment should be available without cost to them? That is a dangerous precedent, especially if applied to other necessities.

I think it is * odd * that you refer to lack of a generous public funded Health Care as Third World. If America only offered the kind of Health Care available in the Third World there wouldn’t be much of an issue or concern. But America has some of the best and most expensive options available that you will not find in the Third World.

Seems like he’s saying that’s essentially the case now, when they get to emergency rooms.

That’s not it either - those options exist, but are only generally available to about two-thirds of us. The *lack * of options for the uninsured are where the “Third World” comparison comes in.

Cue John Edwards on “Two Americas”, or Mario Cuomo on “A Tale of Two Cities”.

As Elv1s said, that those high quality options are not available to a large portion of the population was the comparison I intended to draw.