Vail Valley Voices: A way to fix health care |

Vail Valley Voices: A way to fix health care

Chas Bernhardt
Vail, CO, Colorado

America’s health care system will never be as great as it could be unless Congress will accept for itself what it mandates for the rest of us.

The much-quoted 2000 World Health Organization statistics (the last year the agency compiled the results) listed the United States 37th out of 190 countries for overall health care systems.

Neither individual experience nor overall public satisfaction was used in the evaluation. Nevertheless, it raises critical questions. The Blendon et al study rates public satisfaction, and the J. Parsons study rates health care expenses per capita.

Even though WHO ranked Denmark 34th, the public satisfaction rating is more than 90 percent positive. France was ranked No. 1, but only 65 percent of the residents rated their system as satisfactory, and No. 2-ranked Italy has only a 16 percent public satisfaction rating.

Singapore, ranked sixth, has the only libertarian-style health care system of the top-ranked countries, where the individual takes responsibility for his or her own health care issues, and their health care expenses are 25 percent of what an American spends.

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All the studies reviewed showed America as spending more money per capita than any other country, and yet the Blendon study shows the American public satisfaction rate as less than 50 percent.

Most of the top-rated countries tax their workers at rates from 13 percent to 32.6 percent for socialized health care and pay 70 percent to 75 percent of the medical expense, with the balance being paid by the individual or supplemental personal health care insurance, and yet long waits for service are a constant complaint. Clearly, something has to be done.

For those truly interested, all of this information is available in the public domain.

After much research and thought, since Americans are heading for the socialistic-type system, the plan listed below is one I believe would work for America:

Many would-be doctors, nurses, pharmacists and technicians simply would not pursue their degrees due to the high cost of education and malpractice insurance and the fact that the HMOs restrict their incomes.

Should the government pay the cost of education, pay the graduate a reasonable starting salary and require the professional to work a minimum of 30 hours per week at a government facility, that would allow the employee to choose between operating their own practice for the balance of their time or putting in more time at a government facility at a reasonable hourly rate.

A “reasonable” salary would be predicated upon the facts that the graduate will have no student loans, no malpractice insurance and no overhead for operating a medical facility.

This simple process addresses several aspects of our country’s growing challenges.

First, we would have universal health care for all taxpayers and their families. The current “free” care to our congressmen and congresswomen would be eliminated, and those savings would go toward operating these facilities.

Patient payment is to be determined using a sliding scale premised on several factors based upon tax returns, volunteer work and need. A nonprofit insurance cost would be deducted from each paycheck, that cost also to be determined by the same factors as patient payment, and those payments would be applied to the costs of running such a facility.

Once the patient checked in at the biometric scanner, all records would become available and the receptionist could address the concerns of the patient.

The medical facility would be operated at the state level. That way, initially there might be 50 separate systems. Each year all of the states could compare what works best and adjust accordingly.

This type of program has worked extremely well for decades at veterans’ hospitals. If the patient wishes to have private health care, that option is also available but at the patient’s expense.

Such a program might take four years

to set up – or perhaps much sooner if

current student loans are paid off by the government.

Also, the population might become better educated. Our country needs more engineers, mathematicians, chemists and various other higher-education positions. This type of program can be adapted to many types of needs. The ideas are endless.

Chas Bernhardt is a 35-year Vail Valley


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