Healthcare is the political football of the midterm elections. But unlike the game of football, there are no rules. And the goal is to win -- not for the benefit of the team (the voters), but to gain status and power. Politicians are looking for a sound bite that catapults them into the spotlight. Spartacus was a dud. People like free stuff. Let’s try Medicare-for-All! Of course, the ads won’t mention that taxes will be doubled and private health insurance is essentially outlawed.
As I physician, I proudly recited and adhere to the Oath of Hippocrates, which commands physicians to “use treatment to help the sick according to [their] ability and judgment … and [to] abstain from all intentional wrong-doing and harm.” Physicians don’t all think alike—medically or politically—but when a patient’s health is at stake, we find a way to work together for the patient’s best interest.
Senior citizens, don’t be fooled. The federal government asserts that Medicare sets a high bar for medical care and we are lucky to have it. Not so. It does, however, claim a virtual monopoly on health insurance coverage for all eligible persons.
The goal of the recent, sometimes-unruly protests over the election of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States of America is unclear. Is it to make President-elect Trump preemptively resign? Is it to ensure that he never takes office—by any means necessary? Is it to exercise the protesters’ self-defined right to vandalize the property of others?
These days, in order to keep costs down the vast majority of insurance plans use the model that limits the hospitals or physicians from whom patients can get medical services. The “covered services” are determined by the insurer. The plans involve contracts between the insurer and the patient, and the insurer and the “health care providers.” The parties agree upon and know in advance who must pay for medical care—with the amount to be determined by the insurer.