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The health care consumer/voter

On a plane yesterday I engaged in a brief conversation with a professional woman (accountant) working for ING Insurance about health care. An opinionated person, she was quick to tell me that employer-based health care was the only solution and that government based programs were bad due to waste and long waiting lines for treatment.
When I pointed out that Medicare was one of the highest-rated “health plans” in the nation, with administrative expenses significantly lower than any other plan, she stated that the only innovation would come from private insurers, and that the “Clinton plan would have been a disaster”. She then proceeded to complain about the one-year waiting lists for surgery in the UK, and about the problems w the pharma reimbursement system in the UK and it’s refusal to pay anything for “profits”.
Here is a very intelligent, educated, numbers-oriented person who likely votes and contributes and is active, who has some serious misconceptions about health care, and absolutely no appreciation for the trade-offs inherent in health care. As an accountant I would have expected her to argue the cost-benefit of procedures or financing mechanisms, but her arguments were more based on the Health Insurance Assn of America (a now defunct organization)’s famed “Harry and Louise” advertising campaign.
There was no time to engage, and it would not have been productive – her mind was made up. When asked about how to handle the uninsured, she said that doctors should be required to do pro bono work, and then proceeded to complain about socialised medicine. Leaving aside the thought that requiring workers to do something for no compensation via governmental fiat smacks of socialism or communism for that matter, I was amazed at the complete lack of thought given to these obviously firmly-held beliefs.
If this is the kind of voter we have, than we are indeed a long way from addressing the problems inherent in our health care system.
What does this mean for you?

Likely continued frustration…

2 thoughts on “The health care consumer/voter”

  1. This is indeed the kind of voter we have, and she has a cipher on the other side, someone who will reflexively vote for governmental control and against big business. There’s too much money to be made or lost for rationale debate.
    The problem is that this split prevents us from really assessing and making decisions on what’s best for the entire country for the future.
    I would think that American business would be interested making sure that it always an adequate supply of educated and healthy workers. Even if they go overseas to find that labor, they still need a consumer base to purchase their goods and services, and that will require Americans to have jobs that pay well. That requires… you get the picture!
    There is a balance of private and public interests and involvement that will allow us to give coverage to all Americans and yet retain the profit motive that will continue to push innovation and new product development in the medical field. We just need to the will and determination to find it!

  2. Having lived and worked in the UK – with a wife and infant/toddler – for 2 years, I can only say the nicest of things about the healthcare system there. Especially infant care. A homecare nurse (don’t recall her actual title) would come to our residence monthly to check in on our child and mother’s health and state of mind.
    Moreover, all the doctors who we came across during our time there couldn’t have been more helpful. Being an Expat, along with the Expat perks, we also had the ability to use the private system of healthcare that also exists in the UK. We might have used it once.
    Surely there could be some base level of care for all Americans and still allow the “have mores” to have access to Private, if desired. Is it fair that the “have mores” get better attention? Well, ask yourself whether it would be much different than it is now.
    As bad as our healthcare system is now, I can only imagine that providing basic healthcare to all Americans must be better.

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Joe Paduda is the principal of Health Strategy Associates



A national consulting firm specializing in managed care for workers’ compensation, group health and auto, and health care cost containment. We serve insurers, employers and health care providers.



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