Dr. Oberheide is commended for favoring national health plan | SummitDaily.com

Dr. Oberheide is commended for favoring national health plan

Summit County is fortunate to have a physician speaking out in favor of a plan for national health insurance for all.

U.S. medical care is by no means the best in the world by any standard measure of the public’s health, and its present structure and policies are unsustainable. Everybody can expect to be gored by this ox.

I saw an itemized bill here this summer, from a local medical facility, showing charges of about $1,200 for treatment of an ordinary sprained ankle.

The patient reported that a physician did not see him, yet the coded charge for professional services was in excess of $500. More outrageous was a $450 charge for an ankle splint that probably sells wholesale for $20 or less. Clearly, there is a major gap between medical prices and costs of services. Where is the public’s outrage about prices?

The medical facility will not receive $1,200 for these minimal services because Medicare and insurance carriers negotiate discounts, but a patient without insurance would be expected to pay the full amount – in many instances under threat of collection agencies and legal actions.

There are data showing that up to 30 percent of our health care dollar goes for administrative service and paper work. By contrast, the same costs for Medicare is about 5 percent, despite commonplace delusions about the hopeless inefficiencies of government.

Dr. Jim Oberheide is correct in noticing that investor-owned corporations now control most U.S. medical care facilities and physician groups and that medical care has become a growth industry.

This transformation to corporate medicine from the small business model that preceded it began in the 1980s, and was a deliberate decision in national health policy. The stated confidence that competition among sellers of medical services would control prices was terribly mistaken.

I applaud Dr. Oberheide for going public with his concerns and opinions about the inequitable and fearful monster that U.S. medical care has become, and for supporting a plan to remedy its worst flaws.

About 9,000 physicians have committed themselves to this project, but other citizens must not remain passive. Summit County is to be commended for providing a volunteer-staffed community clinic for working persons who have no medical insurance, but volunteerism will not solve the big problems that Dr. Oberheide addresses.

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