Monday, February 25, 2008

Doctor doctor

First, thanks much to the folks that came out on Saturday night. It was fun to visit, or revisit in some cases, so many cool tunes. And even some less cool tunes. Sadly, there weren't enough of us to send a big check Andrew D'Angelo's way, but every bit helps I suppose. To that end, Nate Chinen wrote a piece for the Times that we all hope will help, Darcy commented, then reviewed the Tea Lounge benefit in Brooklyn, and Andrew continues to blog about his progress. For those of you have never heard Andrew play, there is a straight line from the way he writes to the way he plays, no question.

I've been thinking about health care a fair bit lately, even before the situations with Dennis Irwin and Andrew surface. You see, for the non-Bostonians, I am one of about 40,000 guinea pigs in Massachusetts great experiment in mandatory health care. I was compelled by the state to buy health care, at a prorated monthly fee based on my tax return income. My plan starts this month. On paper, at least, it's a good deal- I pay less than $40 per month in premiums, the co-pays are in line with the going rate, and I badly need health insurance. My plan kicks in March first, so I have no idea what will actually happen when I need services- stay tuned.

That said, while I'm grateful, I'm also equally skeptical that this can work. For one, even before this law went into effect, primary care physicians (PCPs) were in short supply in this area. My roommate, who has Blue Cross, was told last week the next time his doctor could see him was August(!) To my knowledge, nothing in the law addresses that. Second, the state is already projecting billions of additional costs in the next few years, with no idea of how to pay for it. It's my (limited) understanding that both the Obama and Clinton plans are similar to the Massachusetts law. While I think it will make some things better, get ready for the same problems.

Second, I don't see anything, at least in my coverage, that adequately addresses diet and lifestyle issues, which are the two biggest factors in most common American maladies. Of course, that would mean taking on the food industry, and what are the odds of that...

Honestly, I don't see any way we really "solve" health care in this country without a national single-payer system. Sure it'll ration care, but what do you call what we have now? And more importantly, talk to anyone working in the system (I was a secretary at a hospital in one of my many day jobs). Medicare covers more, and hassles less, than any private insurer, with about one eighth of the overhead costs. (I need sources) So explain again why private is so much better???

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