Ocean City Today

Getting government out of health care

Aug 03, 2017



printed 08/04/2017


If there is one thing to be learned from a discussion with Atlantic General Hospital CEO Michael Franklin, it is that Congress had no business trying to establish a health care plan and should leave the planning aspect of it to experts if they revisit the issue in the future.

The simple reason is that health care is too complex for the average person to understand, and if there’s one thing that many members of Congress have demonstrated, it is that they are average. They are just as prone as the rest of us to make decisions based on personal opinions, questionable information and politics.

Developing a health care policy according to political or philosophical beliefs is like painting a portrait with a roller. The devil is in the details, as they say, and the health services equation has far too many of those to assume that they will sort themselves out on their own.

As Franklin noted this week, the cost of health care in this country is zooming toward an unsustainable 20 percent of the Gross Domestic Product — it was almost 18 percent in 2015, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Defense spending in this country, by contrast, was 3.6 percent of the GDP last year.

The skyrocketing cost of health care isn’t because some people are getting a free ride or are gaming the system. It’s because of  thousands of pages of labyrinthine regulations, favors and exceptions that few people, or members of congress, have read or understand. And, of course, there’s Medicare.

That alone ate up 15 percent of the federal budget in 2016, because of the country’s aging population. The graying of America, as it’s called, also has to be factored into the calculation of medical expense, as does the declining productivity of older workers, its effect on the GDP, publicly held insurance companies’ responsibility to investors and … and …

In other words, the chances that the solution can be found in committee meetings of reelection-minded members of Congress are no better than they would be at the kitchen table at home.

A body of health care professionals, accountants, insurers, legal advisors and citizen advocates would do a better job. And, as Franklin said, get government — and politics — out of it.

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