By Susan Johnson
This is the second part of a report given on
Real Healthcare Reform: Power to the People,
hosted by Concerned Citizens for America, Aug. 3, 2009, at Stockholm Inn Restaurant in Rockford.
Guest speaker was Dr. Mark Kellen, president of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. He was accompanied by Dr. Errol Baptist, a Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Rockford.. He has been awarded the Raymond B. Allen Instructorship Award 23 times. In 1997, he received the U of I college of Medicine Distinguished Teaching Award, and in 2006 he was awarded the college’s Distinguished Service Award. He is a graduate of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Ceylon, Colombo, and received his pediatric training at the University of Medicine and Dentistry in New Jersey. Dr. Baptist is a Diplomate of the American Board of Pediatrics, and a Fellow of the American College of Pediatricians. He is widely published in medical journals and is the author of a textbook for medical students
For the last 10 years, Dr. Kellen has been a staff anesthesiologist and taught at the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Rockford. He is also active with Rockford Lutheran Schools Foundation.
Following the main lecture, Dr. Kellen took questions from the audience. We now continue with this part of the program.
Questions from the audience
Q: What about European health care?
What is the French health care system? People pay into a cooperative. The doctor will have a price for what he does. Let’s say the cooperative pays $30. You pay the doctor, then apply to the cooperative for reimbursement. That eliminates the price controls on physicians, so you don’t have to worry about seeing a doctor. If you’re really good, everyone gets the same price. The good [doctors] deserve a better price; the bad ones should be penalized. Medicare and Medicaid pretty much eliminate this. It fixes prices. You submit your claim to the cooperative. There are two kinds of hospitalsa government or public hospital that takes whatever the government allows, and a private hospital that charges extra. If you go through that, you see that France has everything that Obama hates. You are still paying 10-40 percent payment on top. It basically is a voucher system.
We are going to spend a basic level of care, and if you want more, you pay it on your own. It is a two-tier system. France was rated as having the best health care system in the world. It has a voucher system based on two tiers—no price controls. The public hospitals have less money available for technology; the private hospitals have more. In the end, people have choice. People can decide where they will go and what they want to do. If something doesn’t work, people can say, ‘I’m going to buy it myself.’ In America, if Medicare says you can’t have it, you can’t have it. France has all these things that would make our system better, but our health bill does not have that.
Health care for illegal aliens?
We have 45.7 million uninsured people; but after we subtract the wealthy, the illegal immigrants and those who just have not signed up for government programs, the total number would be 10-15 million. We have 9.7 million illegal immigrants. There is no program in this bill where they will get insurance. There is no political program that will create insurance for illegal immigrants. About 25 million of that number are age 35 or less. About 9.7 million of these people earn more than $70 million a year. They may say, ‘I’m ruining my business; it’s not worth it.’ You only have about 10 million that are hard-core uninsured. What Obama plans is to disrupt the entire medical system for about $70 million, where except for cost, 80-85 percent are happy with their coverage to benefit these 3-5 percent who are uninsured. The average family will get about $1,200 for the year. All this money goes to the insurance company. About $10,000 comes from the employer; $2,000-$3,000 comes out of your pocket. This doesn’t pay a dime of anything. When you get sick, you have to add your co-payment, so you’re now putting in money for physicians or tests. This then adds up and doesn’t even have a cap. A high-deductible plan has a cap. In the guiding principles from the White House, their first goal is to control the rising cost of insurance. Medical care is the secondary goal. Massachusetts shows it won’t work.
Obama says he wants to guarantee you choice of health plan, but 40 percent of physicians will not see a Medicaid patient because they don’t get paid. Medicare has a better rate of reimbursement, but it’s such a hassle with the paperwork. And you take a family’s life into your hands because they are probably committing fraud because it’s so difficult to administer. Your ability to keep your own doctor is jeopardized.
Many doctors are saying, ‘Forget the third party; these are my rates.’ You have absolute privacy because your data doesn’t go anywhere. Obama always keeps saying that you can keep your health plan. It’s a true statement if you only go out five years; all the really bad stuff occurs in 2013. There is not much money spent until that year, when it is illegal to sell any insurance policy that doesn’t meet the government mandate. You may be grandfathered in, but no one else could get in. That will limit their ability to sell their product, and then my plan will not be allowed any more. I don’t have someone telling me ‘you can’t have that’; that is a freedom of the health plan I want. My plan will go away in 2013 because it will not meet the requirements of HR 3200. When Michael Moore wanted to have heart surgery, he didn’t go to Cuba. Estimates show the Canadians spent about $1 billion a year in the U.S. Someone in Canada said, ‘Americans can’t reform their health system because then, what will we do?’ Obama wants to control the bankruptcy rate. But the personal bankruptcy rate in Canada is higher than in the U.S.
From the September 26-29, 2009 issue