10-24-13 Waconia Patriot Letters to the Editor

ACA promises a cure that is worse than the illness

To the editor:

I must respond to the letter from Mr. Weygand, printed in  the Oct. 17 issue.
Weygand makes a number of health related assertions based on his “research” from the CIA: The World Factbook. He cites faulty econometrics of which I will explain. Once again, the devil is in the details, of which Weygand either doesn’t know or care to admit.
The source for the data listed in the CIA report, is the Organization of Economic Co-Operation & Development (OECD). The rank order listings he cites is unverified data supplied to the OECD by member nations. Weygand cites Infant Mortality (IM) and says that the 49th ranking for the U.S. indicates “we pay more and get less.” The truth is that the U.S. reports non-viable births, as a live birth, even after the baby dies. The majority of the world treats this category as “stillborn” and not reported as a live birth. This skews our ranking much lower. A study of Philadelphia births concluded that this methodology raises our IM up to 40 percent (Eric Gibson-”Effects of Non-Viable Births on IM”). Doctors in the U.S. go to great lengths to save prenatal and neonatal babies (<28 days) even though some die. The number of neonatal intensive care units in the U.S. is unrivaled and  increases our overall health care costs.
Further, teenage birth rates greatly effects IM and is 1.5 to 3.5 times greater than mothers giving birth in their mid-20s. The U.S. teenage birth rate is 2.8 times greater than Canada and 7 times greater than Japan and Sweden (Korbin Liu-”International IM Rankings-Behind the Numbers”).
Weygand cites the U.S. as 50th in Life Expectancy (LE). The CIA report, using the OECD data incorporates IM into their rank order formula. The low U.S. IM ranking thus becomes a major factor in the low LE ranking. However calculating LE at a later age raises the US ranking dramatically (AEI: US Healthcare, a Reality Check on Cross-Country Comparisons, 7-11-12).
While the U.S. has the highest per capita health care cost, this is not the entire picture. Our medical costs are the result of market forces plus government mandates. The vast majority of the world has “state controlled” health care. They set a “fee schedule” and lower payouts if they get close to the budgeted allocations. Delays and shortages are typically experienced. If our health care delivery is so bad, why did over 46,000 Canadians come here in 2011 for care? (Fraser Inst. 7/11)
Simply reporting “rank order” is NOT a valid measure, as other factors are ignored.
Medical insurance was meant to be catastrophic coverage. What we have now is first dollar coverage which is prepaid medical. You don’t file a claim on your auto insurance when you get your oil changed do you? Then why do we insist that a physical exam be charged against your health care insurance?
It is apparent that Weygand delights in his “study,” thus making the case for the ACA.
Being critical of conservative Republicans, he ignores the fact that they brought meaningful proposals to the insurance debate. Tort reform, interstate competition, tax free HSA’s and the ability to personalize your plan goes back to the presidential debates. However, elections matter and we are cursed with the current “fix.” No doubt we will see daily reports as to the inefficiencies of this federal debacle. I maintain that the ACA will morph into “single payer” coverage – Democrat euphoria.
I believe we are on a path in which the “cure” is worse than the “illness.”

Joe Polunc