The Only Way to cut Health Care Costs while Expanding Coverage is to Ration Services with Death Panels

Posted by PITHOCRATES - November 6th, 2011

Week in Review

Vermont has solved their health care problem.  To reduce costs they’re going to cover more people.  And in some other world of mathematics, this may actually make sense (see Report: Vt. public health care cost could top $9B by DAVE GRAM posted 11/1/2011 on the Associated Press).

New projections by the state of Vermont say a public, universal health care system would cost between $8.2 billion and $9.5 billion a year – roughly $13,000 to $14,000 per resident – by 2020, but that sticking with the current system based on private insurers would cost even more.

Without a health care overhaul approved by lawmakers this year, including a new law that could move Vermont closer than any other state to a Canadian-style single-payer system, costs would surpass $10 billion by 2020, the report said.

$14,000 per resident is a lot of money.  Which is why a lot of young, healthy people choose not to have health insurance.  Because they don’t consume anywhere near $14,000 per year.  Well, the young and healthy will be paying now.  Because that’s the only to pay for people who consume health care services.  By making the people who don’t consume them pay for those services.

“In a way we’ve been a victim of our own success,” said health care consultant Steve Kappel, who helped write the report. “As people get covered, spending will go up.”

Imagine that.  Cover more people.  And spending will go up.

The goal of this year’s legislation actually runs counter to that – a key target of lawmakers was to reduce cost growth while extending coverage to the roughly 10 percent of Vermonters still without it.

So, you want to reduce costs.  While at the same time you want to expand coverage.  Only one way to do that.  You have to give each person less.  Way less.

The largest category of projected savings would come from “changes in the care process,” the report said. The focus here would be on redoubling efforts to make sure necessary care is delivered and unnecessary care is sharply limited. Among the strategies: better management of chronic diseases like diabetes and getting patients to have regular checkups so they don’t end up in emergency rooms.

I won’t use the expression ‘death panels’ but what you have here is a bureaucratic panel approving treatment.  And denying treatment.  Not a doctor.  So a doctor may say that a certain treatment is necessary to save a patient’s live.  And these bureaucrats may deny that treatment.

If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a death panel.  Because if you don’t pass muster with the bureaucrats you may be denied life-saving treatment.  Which is the only way to cut costs.  While expanding coverage.  You give each person less.  Way less.  That is, you ration services.  And if someone dies as a result the system will realize real savings.

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