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From the Left Hand Corner: It's time for health care assurance

As a society we don’t need health care insurance. What we need is health care assurance, with or without insurance companies.

Insurance has been the biggest bane of our health care “system” in the United States. Admittedly, insurance is a very necessary evil if the primary source of payment for health care is the individual recipient. Also, insurance is necessary for smaller employers who provide insurance benefits for their employees. There, insurance serves to collect from many to pay for individuals when needed, thus spreading the burden when calamity occurs.

However, to the extent that our government picks up the ultimate cost — which is all of the time for some and most of the time for us fortunate Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries — the insurance “middleman” doesn’t make sense. Why pay insurance companies their profit and administrative dollars, presumably to spread costs and assume risk for insured when the ultimate risk is on the government anyway?

As it is, the profitmaking entities in health care seem to walk away with too much money from government spending. That was never intended, at least not expressly so.

Often the most subsidized are the most profitable. Hospitals, once fully charitable, were administered by nuns who devoted their work life without pay. Now, hospital/clinic conglomerates are led by six- and even seven-digit executives, paid in large part with our tax dollars.

Why waste those dollars on secondary insurance profit and administration when those dollars are better directed to the health care professionals and facilities that actually provide direct care?

The overall health care picture in America is rather glum. Our politics, or really the impact of lobbying on our politics, presents a huge negative impediment to meaningful positive change. We have not resolved or reached any real agreement on what to change, let alone how.

Meanwhile, our serious financing problems increase with each passing day. Our population is rapidly changing to more elders and fewer earners.

I doubt there will be any overnight miracles. What we have is deeply entrenched. As we watched and experienced, just the one legislative enactment, the Affordable Health Act, took decades to develop into law.

Now we are experiencing more years of interpretation and application, and its very existence is still under attack, albeit lessening attack.

Our lacking in health care provision causes untold worries and actual physical consequence when those without coverage go without care when it is needed. Diseases and injuries that could have been resolved with early treatment compound in consequence and cost when delayed.

A change in nationwide attitude is in order. We need to reach the same conclusion that other developed countries concluded years ago. Every citizen needs and should have a reasonable lifelong level of health care made available to them. It should not be limited to those who can afford to pay out of their own pocket.

Health care should not be doled out in a haphazard way. It should be as close to the same for everyone as possible. You should not have to be born and stay rich or insured in order to be assured adequate, accessible health care

With our hodgepodge of private and public health care entities and policies, we pay more per capita than any other nation — a lot more.

Yet, many of our citizens still have no accessible care, others not enough, and the rest pay too much. Working together, instead of against each other, we can do a lot better over passage of time.