Health care system needs major overhaul |

Health care system needs major overhaul

It does not matter what your age — it is too expensive to be sick these days.

Despite the fact that an Internet search turned up 50 bills containing the words “health care” for the current congressional session, no one seems to be tackling the issue with an serious thought.

It is such a contentious subject, that it is all but ignored by our lawmakers. The debacle that occurred when President Bill Clinton put his wife in charge of revamping the health care system seems to have scared off any further debate. This is a pathetic. We elect leaders to lead. No one is leading the charge to put some life into our health care system.

In a Tahoe Tribune story last week we reported on the skyrocketing health care costs that local businesses are facing. This in turn is meaning more money out of the pockets of people working on the South Shore.

We are not the only community to have this problem. Unfortunately it is a nationwide trend.

In today’s paper we report on people needing to leave their current health plans because health maintenance organizations are fleeing Medicare. Prescription costs are depleting senior citizens’ retirement accounts. Pharmaceutical companies appear to be getting rich off these people’s needs.

The thought of socialized medicine sets most people into a rant. But what we have is not working either. We need to look beyond our borders to investigate the success of other countries. Canada’s approach has shown weaknesses in the past few years. However, there some government run programs in Europe that are worthy of inspection.

Free enterprise may be what drives this country, but as long as we rely on government for oversight, we need to hold lawmakers accountable. We need to force the issue no matter how difficult it is.

Health maintenance organizations seemed to be answer to our problems as their popularity escalated in the latter part of the last century. Now HMO seems to be letters with such low-regard as IRS and DMV. Insurance companies are making decisions that doctors should be making. They are deciding what procedures are covered, essentially overriding what a doctor believes is the best course of action.

There are even health plans out there that do not pay for preventative checkups, prenatal care or early childhood immunizations. There is no logic in any of this. Prevention is going to cut the costs of medical care in the future.

There needs to intervention on our lawmakers’ behalf to bring the drug companies, HMOs and other insurance providers, doctors and other health care providers, as well as the general public to the table to begin a productive discussion on how best to provide everyone with affordable medical coverage. Our country cannot afford not to make serious changes in the way we handle health care.

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