By James Fieseher, M.D.
Foster’s Daily Democrat (Dover, N.H.), March 6, 2018
To the Editor:
Consider this: Suppose there was a way to cut all medical costs by 50 percent, improve the quality of health care you get when you do need to see a health appointment, decrease the number of sick days a person has over a lifetime and increase the average age of a person’s lifetime? At the same time, we could decrease or eliminate a significant portion of overhead for New Hampshire’s businesses?
Before you call the mental health specialists to have me hauled away (unlikely, considering the decreasing number of mental health specialists we have left in the state), there is actually a bill brought before the state Legislature that has the potential to do all of that. It is HB 1241 and it is a bill the would have the state “study the benefits and costs of a Health Care for All program in New Hampshire.”
The United States spends at least twice as much money per person on health care as people in other industrialized nations. It consumes over 18 percent of our GNP. Other countries get better health care and their citizen on average live longer than we do according to every independent international survey. Their health care is not linked to employers or businesses, so their businesses do not have to provide health care as part of their overhead costs, which make their products more competitive on the open market.
Our health care system is based upon socioeconomic status. If you have enough money and a job with the right employer, you get health care. Your employer picks you plan options and determines what percentage of your plan you must pay for. Your choice of doctor depends entirely upon the health plan your employer picked. You may or may not get a pay raise in your job from one year to the next, but if your health costs go up every year, you’re losing money in the long run. As I write this letter, the teachers in West Virginia are on a prolonged strike for just that very reason: their health care costs have risen far higher than their salaries can afford. If it can happen there, it can happen here as well.
A “Health Care for All” plan is not a new idea. It has been tried and tested many times over. All other industrialized nations have some version of this plan. Many are single-payer systems, but there are other versions that involve multiple payers that work as well. We even have two systems here in the United States that provide terrific health care at a much smaller cost: the V.A. health system and Medicare.
There is no perfect system and each system has its flaws. But the point is, all of them work better and cover more people than what we have now.
So why should you consider the pros and cons of a “Health Care for All” system? Because your state legislature will not. When presented with a chance to even consider a plan that would give every man, woman and child health care at a total cost much less than what we’re paying now, they said they wouldn’t even consider it. When presented with the possibility to lower the overhead of all New Hampshire businesses and making New Hampshire a more business friendly environment, they said it wasn’t even worth thinking about.
What is going on here?
Consider this: contact your state representative and tell them to vote no on the motion to “ITL” (Inexpedient To Legislate) HB 1241. We should consider new ways of making New Hampshire a business friendly state and lowering the cost while raising the quality of health care for all citizens.