THE WORST, NOT THE BEST

If you think this country has the best health care system in the world, you’ve been played. In reality we have the worst system if you judge it by its effectiveness and efficiency. Ours is undoubtedly the most technologically advanced, but it is also the most expensive and the one under which millions of Americans have no insured access to health care. It is the only one that allows people to go bankrupt over medical expenses. It is the one that says, “Let those without coverage use emergency rooms and then force those with coverage to pay more to meet the expense.”

If you look at our national health vital statistics compared with those of other developed nations, you will find we are at the bottom of that list in terms of such basics as longevity, infant mortality, and much more. Forbes Magazine reported this last June. Our standing in the world is 37th among 190 nations according to the World Health Organization. That puts us just below Costa Rica and just above Slovenia.

We are the only developed country in the world without national health care. The national health care was created by that flaming liberal Otto von Bismarck back in 1873. He was absurdly accused by his political opponents of being a socialist. In fact he was in fact a practitioner of realpolitik, which means he did not use ideology or even ethics, but relied on practicality.

Our nation’s refusal to adopt national health care is based on an almost mystical belief that market forces and the profit motive are always the most efficient and fair system. There are a lot of reasons why that is not true for everything. At the top of that list is human nature. Where profit is the only motivator one sets oneself against everyone and everything else no matter the cost to the public interest. In the case of medicine add the economic principle of elasticity of price. That means that the market will set prices at the highest level that the public will spend on a good or service. It does not take a genius to figure out that people will pay anything they can for their health benefits.

Despite, not because of ACA, our system is getting even worse. My story tells you how. As I write this my primary care physician, who has treated me through very serious illnesses for the past nine years, was declared “out of network” by AARP’s United Health Care. They have a new policy under which they will cover only hospital-affiliated physicians. I do not understand how, but it seems most likely that this is a way for UHC to increase its bottom line and AARP is going along with it. Reportedly (Consumer Reports On Health newsletter) thousands of Americans are affected.

This is the insurance program advertised as the only one approved by AARP. In fact it seems that United Health Care and AARP are joined at the hip. This program continues to advertise in print and on TV that there are no networks and any physician who accepts Medicare patients is covered. These are obvious lies.
Ever since I was first informed that UHC had assigned me a new physician I have been trying to find a way to continue being covered by the physician who actually knows my case. It took me several weeks to find anyone at either AARP or UHC to discuss my case. Until then I was talking to people who were obviously reading from a script and had no authority to do anything and supposedly no phone number for me to call someone with some authority.

By this time I do have a couple of numbers to call, but call backs take a very long time.
Meanwhile the deadline has passed, my physician is no longer covered, they regard a doctor I do not know at all who is affiliated with a hospital I would never willingly go to is now my physician according to them, and, if I need hospital care, it will not be covered because my physician is not hospital affiliated.

This is the best system in the world? I don’t think so.

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