My Facebook friend Mike posted a link to a Snopes article titled: Senior Death Warrants that responds to a viral email message that uses actress Natasha Richardson's death to proclaim that she would still be alive if her accident happened in the United States instead of Canada. Snopes speaks to the inaccuracy of that email message concluding that it contained inaccuracies and speculation. That viral email goes on to denounce President Obama's healthcare proposals saying that senior citizens would suffer under it. Here are a few of the Snopes responses to the email:
  • Obama wants to have our healthcare like Canada's and England's.

    Although the health care initiative proposed by President Obama (commonly dubbed "ObamaCare") is often characterized as the adoption of a medical system identical to that used in Canada and/or the UK, that characterization is not accurate. The President's plan calls for providing Americans with the option of government health insurance (which will compete with private insurance plans), not for replacing the entire U.S. medical system with a single-payer, government-funded system. (Critics maintain, though, that a public insurance plan would inevitably drive private insurers out of business, thereby setting the U.S. on the road to government-run health care.)
  • In England anyone over 59 cannot receive heart repairs or stents or bypass because it is not covered as being too expensive and not needed.
  • We could find no documentation supporting the claim that Britain's National Health Service (NHS) absolutely denies all coverage of "heart repairs or stents or bypass" to patients over the age of 59. The NHS did not point us to any such policy in response to our inquiry, and many readers from the UK have told us that they (or someone they personally knew) have had such procedures performed on them despite their being older than 59.
  • If this does not sufficiently raise your ire, just remember that Senators and Congressmen have their own healthcare plan that is first dollar or very low co-pay
  • As federal employees, members of Congress are eligible for the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP), which is not a single health care plan but rather a collection of many different private health insurance plans from which enrollees can choose. In general, the FEHBP offerings are similar to Medicare (with prescription drug coverage), although even supporters of a national health program have criticized the FEHBP for having the "same problems of private plans generally: administrative waste, restrictions on health care providers, inequities, and inadequate cost control."

I am pretty concerned about the federal government expanding it's control in this area. What the government does is usually bureaucratic and pretty wasteful. That said I do think that reform in healthcare is needed. Many people who really need healthcare either cannot afford it or are denied coverage because of preexisting conditions.. and, as I posted about earlier this year, many people are forced to declare bankruptcy because of medical bills.

I think that the issue needs to be addressed. I wish that the AMA or some other private group would take it on but I don't think that they will. I think that we will be left with whatever congress gives us. Of course.. in ten years most of America will be on Medicare as us baby boomers sail into our senior years :)


  1. Bob,

    This is an issue of major concern to me as I watch my own health care costs spiraling with no ceiling in sight. I hear a lot of people saying they fear government control or even intervention. But, I have not spoken with a single person who thinks our system does not need to be fixed nor have I heard anyone with a great play for the private sector to fix it on its own.

    I don't think we can get there from here, there being a system like they have in England or other countries. However, I think a government run (or at least regulated) national insurance plan as an alternative to private insurance is a great start. If it's terrible, it won't put private insurers out of business because it'll be optional and no one will opt for it if they're happier with their own plan. If it does put private insurers out of business should all the people who worship at the altar of Capitalism and economic Darwinism be happy? It'd be survival of the fittest.

  2. I see the Congress as a giant committee that is lacking persons of special education and experience in the field of medical health care. With all of my experience of committee-run program development, it causes me great fear to see Congress trying to put together a health care reform package. The only truly successful committees I have ever been able to observe are ad-hoc. They are assembled by selecting properly qualified people in the field of development for which the committee is formed, and they are not serving as an open-ended bureaucracy. Their service ends when they have completed their task. I should think there is a group of specialists in this nation who could form such an ad-hoc committee, and it certainly isn't to be found in our Congress.

  3. One thing that needs to be addressed, but doubtful they'll do it is tort reform.

    If they could get the cost of liability insurance to go down as a result that would likely decrease the cost of healthcare.

    Looking to the system similar to Canada and the UK has is not the way to go.

  4. Agree Shane.. tort reform is a huge issue.. just ask the lawyers who advertise on TV about class action suits against drug companies :)

    But don't expect anything to change at a federal level.. not sure civil suits are even a federal issue.. probably more needs to happen in the states.. but I am not sure.

  5. Something has to change because what we have and/or how it is managed is unaffordable for many and the number is increasing.

    I had good medical benefits through Pepsi-Cola until I retired. Since then the cost of the coverage goes up each year and the maximum coverage has decreased. Still, I have insurance and it is affordable.

    My son is 25 and married with two children. He works for a one of Penske's Honda dealerships. His wife works for state of CT. They get insurance through Penske and the annual premium is $9,600. Which is about 20% of their net income. Penske paid a larger percentage of the premium until sales fell off with the economy.

    While doing business in Norway and Germany in the last 12 months I discussed the healthcare programs in those countries with some of the residents. They all spoke very highly of their programs. I heard from them none of the complaints that I hear from those that oppose making changes to our private healthcare system.

    I think opposition to healthcare reform consists of (1) people that oppose government involvement of any kind, (2) members of the healthcare/pharma/insurance industries whose profits may decrease and (3) people that believe all the negative propaganda from the first two groups.

  6. Agree with you Joe and think that the healthcare/pharma/insurance industries are the main critics of healthcare in other countries. Interesting feedback from Norway and Germany.. I have heard others say something similar about their experiences with Canadian healthcare.

    I think that we all long for the days when companies like Pepsi provided great healthcare benefits for their employees.. we need to wake up.. those days are long gone.


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