View: GOP making errors with health care |

View: GOP making errors with health care

Steve Radcliffe
Guest Column

Republicans are making two fundamental errors in their attempt to address the problems with our health-care system. The first is thinking that changes in insurance can bring down the costs of health-care. The only thing that insurance does is to spread the cost of health care over a group of insureds. Premiums do not drive the cost of health care. It is exactly the opposite. There are a couple of ways to reduce premiums: you can limit what is covered or you can make the insured pay more when there is a claim. You could make up a policy that covers a certain cancer if it is diagnosed on a Tuesday. That would be a very cheap policy but it would be useless coverage. Our health care system costs too much. Our costs per capita are double that of any other industrialized country and we have poorer outcomes. It eats up one-sixth of our economy. Changing insurance won’t change that one bit.

The second error is trusting the free market system to drive down the costs of health care. Republicans believe that a “patient centered” system will lower costs. The system is so complicated that one person doesn’t stand a chance of making a good deal for their own health care. Just think of a person who is having a heart attack and looking for the cheapest heart specialist to take care of them. Even congress does not have enough leverage to address the cost of health care. President Eisenhower warned about the power of the military industrial complex. Nobody warned us about the health-care industrial complex. The lobbyists have way too much influence and a lot of money.

But, unless we do address these costs, we have no chance of fixing the system. Consider a couple of examples. First, have you noticed the unbelievable number of ads for drugs on TV? All those ad costs are in the price of drugs. Second, every time I have had any procedure, I am amazed at the number of people involved. There must be a more efficient way to deliver good care. There is a long list of these inefficiencies that should be addressed that are not even being mentioned in the current debate. Yes, it is hard and complicated we need to address and fix these problems. Even the Democrats share some blame. They focused solely on access to care. But access is meaningless if you can’t afford it.

We need to summon the guts to make the hard decisions to improve our health care system and make it more affordable. We can’t just blame it on the politicians. The Republicans need to stop what they are doing and start over. They need to work with the Democrats and focus on the structure and cost of our health-care system. Focusing on insurance and access to health care is not going to help anything. It might even make it worse.

Steve Radcliffe is a resident of Fraser. Submit a guest column via the Sky-Hi News website at

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