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Arthur Schaper: MA’s Health Care Most Costly: Duh!

Friday, December 27, 2013

 

State-sponsored health care is always more costly, as well as wasteful, and ultimately unethical and corrupted, believes Arthur Schaper.

Last week, Go Local Worcester reported: “Massachusetts Healthcare Spending Highest in the Nation ”.

My first reaction when I read the headline: Duh!

State-sponsored health care is always more costly, as well as wasteful, and ultimately unethical and corrupted.

I have spoken with British residents, those who live there as well as repatriated to the United States. With a jingoist mentality all the way, one British citizen asserted that the National Health Service was superior, yet at the same time he acknowledged owning private insurance policy. British residents are taxed to pay for the NHS, so why would some choose to pay for their own, too? Another gentleman, born in Birmingham but living in Southern California, exposed the two-tier system which inevitably emerges in government rationing. Check out this clip to learn that the NHS has denied offering a life-extending drug simply because of the cost.

Back to Massachusetts, and we have RomneyCare, a bad idea from the outset. Any law with the blessing of Ted Kennedy is automatically bad news. When the press pictured him patting Republican governor Mitt Romney on the back, the same one he had savagely defeated for the 1994 US Senate race: that’s enough to send anyone to the psych ward with a thorazine drip!

Back to the Go Local piece, which starts out with:

“There's no question we have to get our costs under control,” said John O'Brien, distinguished professor of higher education at the Mosakowski Institute for Public Enterprise at Clark University.

Last year, “Mister Governor” Deval Patrick signed into law price controls on health care. Bad news all around for the health care industry. Guess what? Prices went up even more. Government control never controls cost, yet no one should expect anyone on Beacon Hill to learn this lesson. They actually thought they could add the forever provision to raising the gas tax without any fanfare. Instead, they fanned the flames of populist dissent in the Commonwealth.

Dr. O’Brien then outlined other factors driving up health care costs in the Bay State. The large number of teaching hospitals has contributed to rising health care costs, he claims, plus the growing number of people using hospitals.

The first charge, the high number of teaching hospitals, is a meaningless cause. In fact, a larger number of teaching and training would produce more qualified professionals, broadening access, and even lowering costs.

Yet ObamaCare, the federal version of RomneyCare, has discouraged people from pursuing medicine as a career, while hastening the retirement of already harried and busied medical professionals. The stories I hear from friends and acquaintances are sad indeed. PolitiFact labeled President Obama’s “You can keep your health insurance and doctor" under ObamaCare “The Lie of the Year.” California faces an unprecedented doctor shortage, and Behold! Massachusetts’ doctor shortage has only gotten worse. The Boston Globe reported earlier this year that finding a primary doctor and getting an appointment is as likely as snowflakes in September, or as likely as a Republican legislator in Boston. Moreover, graduates from medical school avoid primary care because of lower pay and all the paper work (now even more because of ObamaCare).

Indeed, the increasing number of people seeking medical care in Massachusetts cannot be ignored:

The commission's report finds hospital utilization is high throughout the state, with inpatient admissions 10 percent above the national average and outpatient visits (excluding emergency care) a staggering 72 percent above average.

“Thank you, RomneyCare!” is the right response. 96 percent of Massachusetts resident possess health insurance, according to Julie Kaviar, from the state Office of Health and Human Services, all because of those reforms, yet O’Brein rejects the argument that those initiatives have expanded costs. The laws of supply and demand do not stop at the state border between Smithfield, Rhode Island, and Wrentham, Massachusetts. Just because the government grants everyone health insurance does not guarantee health care or quality access. In fact, now that more people can run to the hospital on someone else’s money, they can expect ration, delays, and long lines to be the rule, not the exception, as well as higher costs for those who do not or cannot wait.

Libertarian-leaning journalist/consumer activist John Stossel outlined the dark side of health insurance in general, exposing that those who pay less will end up paying more. Pushing past the drama and propaganda of the Canadian health care system, Stossel investigated the long lines and the diminished access to adequate health care, even those with life-threatening illnesses denied care.

Yet O’Brein holds out hope for the long-term:

“I don't think reform by definition is contributing in a significant way to increased costs,” O'Brien said. Instead, he sees state and federal reforms helping to control costs as the system turns to incentivizing healthy outcomes.

Such wishful thinking is not only dysfunctional, but dangerous. As long as individual consumers of health care do not absorb the direct costs of hospital visits, as long as hospitals and doctors ignore weighing costs because of third-parties paying every bill, Massachusetts residents can only expect health care to cost much more. Duh!

 

Arthur Christopher Schaper is a teacher-turned-writer on topics both timeless and timely; political, cultural, and eternal. A life-long Southern California resident, Arthur currently lives in Torrance. Follow him on Twitter @ArthurCSchaper, reach him at arthurschaper@hotmail.com, and read more at Schaper's Corner and As He Is, So Are We Ministries.

 

Related Slideshow: New England’s Healthiest States

The United Health Foundation recently released its 2013 annual reoprt: America's Health Rankings, which provides a comparative state by state analysis of several health measures to provide a comprehensive perspective of our nation's health issues. See how the New England states rank in the slides below.

 

Definitions

All Outcomes Rank: Outcomes represent what has already occurred, either through death, disease or missed days due to illness. In America's Health Rankings, outcomes include prevalence of diabetes, number of poor mental or physical health days in last 30 days, health disparity, infant mortality rate, cardiovascular death rate, cancer death rate and premature death. Outcomes account for 25% of the final ranking.

Determinants Rank: Determinants represent those actions that can affect the future health of the population. For clarity, determinants are divided into four groups: Behaviors, Community and Environment, Public and Health Policies, and Clinical Care. These four groups of measures influence the health outcomes of the population in a state, and improving these inputs will improve outcomes over time. Most measures are actually a combination of activities in all four groups. 

Diabetes Rank: Based on percent of adults who responded yes to the question "Have you ever been told by a doctor that you have diabetes?" Does not include pre-diabetes or diabetes during pregnancy.

Smoking Rank: Based on percentage of adults who are current smokers (self-report smoking at least 100 cigarettes in their lifetime and currently smoke).

Obesity Rank: Based on percentage of adults who are obese, with a body mass index (BMI) of 30.0 or higher.

Source: http://www.americashealthrankings.org/

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6. Rhode Island

Overall Rank: 19

Outcomes Rank: 30

Determinants Rank: 13

Diabetes Rank: 26

Smoking Rank: 14

Obesity Rank: 13

 

Strengths:

1. Low prevalence of obesity

2. High immunization coverage among adolescents

3. Ready availability of primary care physicians  

Challenges:

1.High rate of drug deaths

2. High rate of preventable hospitalizations

3. Large disparity in heath status by educational attainment

Source: http://www.americashealthrankings.org/RI

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5. Maine

Overall Rank: 16

Outcomes Rank: 25

Determinants Rank: 12

Diabetes Rank: 23

Smoking Rank: 29

Obesity Rank: 28

 

Strengths:

1. Low violent crime rate

2. Low percentage of uninsured population

3. Low prevalence of low birthweight  

Challenges:

1. High prevalence of binge drinking

2.High rate of cancer deaths

3. Limited availability of dentists

Source: http://www.americashealthrankings.org/ME

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4. Connecticut

Overall Rank: 7

Outcomes Rank: 15

Determinants Rank: 4

Diabetes Rank: 16

Smoking Rank: 4

Obesity Rank: 12

 

Strengths:

1. Low prevalence of smoking

2. Low incidence of infectious diseases

3. High immunization coverage among children & adolescents  

Challenges:

1. Moderate prevalence of binge drinking

2. Low high school graduation rate

3. Large disparity in health status by educational attainment

Source: http://www.americashealthrankings.org/CT

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3. New Hampshire

Overall Rank: 5

Outcomes Rank: 7

Determinants Rank: 5

Diabetes Rank: 16

Smoking Rank: 11

Obesity Rank: 22

 

Strengths:

1. Low percentage of children in poverty

2. High immunization coverage among children

3. Low infant mortality rate  

Challenges:

1. High prevalence of binge drinking

2.High incidence of pertussis infections

3. Low per capita public health funding

Source: http://www.americashealthrankings.org/NH

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2. Massachusetts

Overall Rank: 4

Outcomes Rank: 14

Determinants Rank: 3

Diabetes Rank: 10

Smoking Rank: 7

Obesity Rank: 2

 

Strengths:

1. Low prevalence of obesity

2. Low percentage of uninsured population

3. Ready availability of primary care physicians & dentists  

Challenges:

1. High prevalence of binge drinking

2. High rate of preventable hospitalizations

3. Large disparity in health status by educational attainment

Source: http://www.americashealthrankings.org/MA

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1. Vermont

Overall Rank: 2

Outcomes Rank: 12

Determinants Rank: 1

Diabetes Rank: 4

Smoking Rank: 9

Obesity Rank: 5

 

Strengths:

1. High rate of high school graduation

2. Low violent crime rate

3. Low percentage of uninsured population  

Challenges:

1. High prevalence of binge drinking

2. Low immunization coverage among children

3. High incidence of pertussis infections

Source: http://www.americashealthrankings.org/VT

 
 

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