Opinion by Consumer Advocate Tim Bolen
The US healthcare system is falling in on itself, and it is about time. Change is in the air, and it won’t take long. Rated 72nd in quality worldwide – but number one in cost, it has become the number one killer of Americans.
American industry, quietly, over the last few years, took the Bush Administration by the throat, so-to-speak, and demanded, and got, legislation moving consumer health choices out of the hands of the mega-greedy health insurance industry and into the hands of those same consumers.
US Industry did this, not just to put a stop to the health insurance industry’s “low quality at high price” offerings, but to protect US Industry’s ability to compete in a world market, keep its US employee base, and, frankly, stop the outright destruction of the US economy by runaway health, and health insurance costs.
This is a huge victory for the large, and powerful, “North American Health Freedom Movement.”
US Industry, years ago, was saddled with the obligation, by US law, to provide health insurance coverage to its employees. Any company with over two hundred (200) full-time employees met this requirement. Although this sounded like a good idea, the health insurance industry, in my book, rotten to the core, took this “obligation” to the bank, and began to charge over-the-top, incredible amounts for that “required” insurance coverage. Last year, for instance, the average cost for health insurance per employee to a US company was $14,700. By my calculations, only about nine (9) percent of health insurance premiums was available to pay claims. The rest went into the mega-greedy maw of the marble-buildinged health insurance suck-a-thon.
As I said then “No wonder US industry is “outsourcing” labor to Guatemala, Costa Rica, Thailand, etc. They are trying, themselves, to survive…”
But THAT is all over… Reaction, nationwide, to health insurance company mega-greed, took different forms. In California for instance, the State Democratic Party came out in favor of making the sale of health insurance ILLEGAL, and has passed the first of a group of anti-health insurance bills through both the State Senate and the House (SB840). But, nationally, US manufacturing interests took a different tack. They pressed the Bush Administration VERY HARD and changed the law regarding US industry’s requirement to provide health insurance, from “complete coverage” to an entirely different system based upon the idea of a “High-Deductible with a Health Savings Account (HSA)” package.
And, what has this done to the health/medical industry? Well, not much so far – because it was such a big change that neither the “health” nor the “medical” industries have had time to react. Remember, this change was done TO THE INDUSTRY, not BY THE INDUSTRY. The change was brought on by pressure from American manufacturers and Unions, not from health/medical interests.
It has been obvious to the powerful “North American Health Freedom Movement,” for years, that certain important segments of the US government (like the FDA) were NOT playing close attention to health care issues, and were, in fact, acting, fully, against consumer interests and in favor of the industry the were supposed to regulate.
Clearly though, a much larger faction in US business politics WAS, and IS LISTENING to the health freedom movement – US manufacturers. For, the bill they JAMMED through the US Congress, and handed to George W. Bush to sign was all about “Health Freedom, and the right to Consumer Choices in health care.”
So, what, exactly is the big change?
The “big change” is that American workers, with the new law, are no longer forced to accept the “cheap crap at a high price” medical offerings of health insurance companies, and in fact, with the new system are forced to MAKE CHOICES on how they spend their health dollars. And, “CHOICES” is the key word. As one major “Health Savings Account (HSA)” advocate says:
- HSAs put market competition back in the healthcare arena. Ever since most first-dollar expenses have been paid for by a third party (insurance companies), medical expenses have soared. We believe that individual consumers are better able to decide how and where to spend their health-care dollars than are insurance companies. People who buy medical services using their personal HSA funds will shop around for the best value for their dollars, and health care providers will feel pressure to charge competitive rates to attract patients. In other words, doctors will shift their focus from serving the insurance companies back to serving their patients.
- HSAs encourage people to stay healthy. By making many preventive expenses eligible for coverage through HSA accounts, and by letting people keep any money they don’t use, HSAs provide a powerful incentive for people to take a more proactive approach to their own healthcare.
- HSAs let consumers choose how to spend their own health-care dollars. Only by giving individuals the freedom to make their own choices can we as a society learn of the best solutions. By allowing the use of HSA funds to pay for alternative, holistic, and preventive treatments, innovation and investment will be encouraged in areas where the current system has failed to find solutions. And people will be able to use the type of medicine that works for them. The end result should be a healthier populace with access to a wide choice of treatment options.
I’m going to do an in-depth series about this subject, starting next week. But for today, I’m going to focus on another aspect of this political – the specific political forces behind what happened – the powerful “North American Health Freedom Movement.”
The “North American Health Freedom Movement”…
For a VERY long time Americans have been gathering to talk about the problems of health care. Support groups, activist groups, etc., have formed for just about every problem there is in the health/medicine world. Those groups, even long ago, had such a tremendous impact that, for instance, the pharmaceutical industry, to defend itself from grass-roots efforts, began to start up“fake” support groups, funding them with massive amounts of drug money as public relations misinformation campaigns. Everyone in the US is victimized by the “Run for Cancer, AIDS, or what-ever…” promotions – and there are very few that aren’t outright promotions for some nearly useless, but expensive, drug.
Probably one of the best examples of pharma industry “disinformation campaigns” is the well known, New York based, American Council on Science & Health (ACSH) which the Center for Science in the Public Interest says – “Consumer Group” labeled front for industry.” ACSH was started by Pfizer Corporation.
Mother Jones magazine points out, in a scathing article titled “Paging Dr. Ross” that ACSH’s medical director, Dr. Gilbert Ross, has been labeled “by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services… holding that he was “a highly untrustworthy individual.”
Health Freedom Groups, nationwide, though, don’t have the luxury of corporate funding. In most cases group members pay their own expenses, and can’t afford the services of high-priced New York ad agencies to “get the word out.” Yet, they persist – and they have a huge impact on American society.
The one thing about all those grass-roots support groups is that THEY NEVER GIVE UP. They are simply present everywhere. It’s no exaggeration when I say “Health Freedom Advocates outnumber the “quackbusters” 100,000 to 1.”
This weekend, in Chicago, June 9th, 10th, and 11th, 2006, you can see a sample of what’s happening in “health freedom” in the US. At the Health Freedom Expo, an event held four times a year at different locations (Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, and Richmond) you’ll have an opportunity to see some of the leaders in the movement in action. I’ll be speaking on Sunday, and I’ll be introducing scientist and author Hulda Clark both days.
Clark and I will be sharing the podium, during the weekend, with some of the most famous, and determined, change-authors in health care – like Kurt Donsbach, Clinton Ray Miller, attorney Dianne Miller, Kevin Trudeau, Gez Agoli, Dr. Sherry Tenpenney, and many more.
Come and here what American Manufacturers have been basing their health care policy changes on. Come and hear the policy makers for the new American health paradigm.
By: Tim Bolen, Health Freedom Advocate