Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Letter to congress about healthcare

I wrote the following but the New York Times passed. If you like the message, I encourage my US friends to send it to their legislators (www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm or http://www.house.gov/). Remember, our president is trying to really steer the future of healthcare in the USA.

Studying healthcare politics from the outside looking in has been absolutely surreal. As a 30-something Acromegaly patient and advocate, I am lucky to have a job with good insurance. Without insurance, I would spend more than $50,000 per year just on my medication alone, so it is fair to say that I have an active interest in the results of this fight. What I can’t decide is which side to root for. It seems like the political thinkers have divided into two camps with a huge chasm in between. The real issue for me is that I don’t think either side is totally trustworthy.

On one side of healthcare you have the national government. Let’s be realistic. Every method of federal healthcare currently available has is flirting with financial disaster. Moreover, federal insurance programs have left physicians floating in a sea of bureaucracy, paperwork, rules, and regulations. Politicians use federal healthcare to buy votes from the old and infirmed, using it as both a carrot and a stick.

On the other side you have private health care. Here you have bureaucracies that are equally overwhelming to the doctors, but the financial reality is far darker than ruin; it is greed. Insurance companies are looking for any reason to not cover medical expenses submitted by the very patients they actively recruit. Patients pay hefty premiums for years, never using their insurance for anything more than the occasional flu shot or random Emergency Room visit. But they keep paying just in case, hoping it will be there if they need it. Sadly, that is when insurance companies find a way to jack up their insurance rates or simply drop the patient from their coverage. And if they are lucky enough to keep their insurance, too many patients find that the company is seemingly more willing to spend money deflecting their claim than paying the bill. Moreover, healthcare companies happily pay disgusting sums of money to law firms-worth of lawyers, executives receiving 8-figure salaries, and lobbyists throwing influence all over Washington, DC. Why? All of this is in hopes of protecting themselves from having to set a precedent by paying an extra dollar for grandma’s aspirin in the nursing home.

So what’s our legislators to do? Force everybody onto national healthcare? Keep the status quo? I think there needs to be a third option? A more real option that will hopefully help everybody. The House and Senate need to create an advisory panel made up of legislators from BOTH sides of the aisle, medical leaders within insurance industries from both the government and private healthcare, medical practitioners, and especially patients familiar with healthcare issues. They need to meet seriously and come up with real strategies and options that provides quality healthcare to the weakest of our society without punishing private industry or the wealthy. This can be done if our leadership is willing to do it.

Wayne Brown
Founder AcromegalyCommunity.com


Magpie said...

In most countries in Europe we have national healthcare. Whoever wants it, pays for it via taxes and gets everything covered. Whoever doesn't want it, can have a private insurance (also payed by him/her). It is forbidden for national healthcare providers to deny healthcare.

What's the problem with that in the US? Besides, we pay less (monthly) than you do.

An acromegaly patient who never had to worry if the insurance was to cover the treatment or not.

Moge said...

Excellent letter Wayne. I hope legislators consider your words carefully.

In my opinion congress and senate members have bypassed some of the major strains on our health care system. Greed on the part of pharmacies and insurance carriers. Until we hold those who made gross profits by deceit and fraud accountable our health care system wil remain broken.

Brate said...

It doesn’t seem to me as healthcare cant be made to feel luxurious. My experience with the elite health care services defines a very different story. Right now, I am engaged in Elitehealth.com concierge wellness program which is designed for healthcare at concierge level. They are providing me medication with care at the highest level of comfort. Their wellness program allows me to have a direct access to my personal physician via phone and email, but also in the emergency situation which I had because of having a heart attack, physician came home and also were present in the emergency room to expedite my care. They provided me a patient care concierge who managed all my transportation and accommodation. All this meant a lot to me when it comes to health. So, a concierge level hospitalization is a boon to me, and many other who are desiring to experience.

polarchip said...

Great post Wayne! The hassles of getting treatment paid for has been one of the biggest stressors for me while dealing with this disease. As someone who almost went without coverage right before I was diagnosed, I shudder to think what would have happened if I had actually let my coverage drop. At the same time, I have often felt trapped in jobs because I was terrified of loosing health care.

Brate, I think it's great that you have this health care concierge- I've often wished for one myself. But 1) why should this only be available for those who can pay a premium for it, and 2) why is our system so complicated and frustrating that there is a demand for it?

I think the answer is that healthcare in the US is a profit motivated industry. It's not about the patient's well being, it's about making money off of patients. I know lots of people in the healthcare industry who do care about people despite the system, but overall the SYSTEM is still flawed and needs serious reform.