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Letters: Stop the unfair trade practices in the medical industry

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  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    Oct. 17, 2013 10:06 a.m.

    To "mark: yes we know that you hate things how they are, but what are your solutions?

    You are like most liberals. You have a lot to complain about, but offer no solutions.

    Tell us, what is your solutions?

  • mark Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 17, 2013 9:43 a.m.

    Destroy capitalism? What a silly comment.

    Some things should not be within the capatilist system. Believe it or not, I'm a capatilist. I like it. But I recognize the areas where it does not work, and I recognize its shortfalls. There are some areas that can not function within a capatilist system. The military is one. You don't put soldiers on the free market. We should not farm soldiers out to private enterprise. The mercenaries used in Iraq and Afghanistan were a huge mistake and should not be used again. Wars can not be fought for profit. It's evil.

    Firefighters and cops do not function well in a true free market. Cops have to investigate crimes through out society, not just for those who pay them.

    And the health care system would have huge problems functioning in a true free market. Huge government money goes into the medical system, it's because of that massive amount of government money that research can be conducted for medical advances in this country. If only private money was going in to healthcare there is no way we would have the advanced system we have. All peope should have access.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    Oct. 17, 2013 8:37 a.m.

    To "mark" yes, and with the ACA there will still be around 30 million without insurance.

    Yes, I am defending that. It is called capitalism. If you don't have insurance, and want to get the discounted medicaions there is a simple answer GET INSURANCE. The funny thing about the 48 million that don't have insurance is that about 38% (18 million people) of them could afford insurance but choose not to buy it. Then there is the 57% of the uninsured that qualied for government programs (pre-ACA) that also chose not to sign up for insurance. That means that only 5% (2.4 million) of the uninsured actually needed help. Yes that is a lot of people, but it is not worth it to destroy capitalism just for a group that represents less than 1% of the population.

    What do you propose to do to lower the cost of medications, that will actually lower the cost?

  • mark Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 16, 2013 8:14 p.m.

    So, Redshirt, 48 million Americans do not have health insurance. I think that is a significant number. Average or not. And as the article you cited pointed out, these people are paying higher costs for meds, and ALSO subsidizing those that have insurance. Insidious, indeed. And you are defending that.

    Can you point out where I'm arguing for a "Canadian style system"?

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    Oct. 16, 2013 8:40 a.m.

    To "mark" yes, the "we" that have insurance comprises 84% of the US. That is a vast majority that is covered by insurance, so by saying that the AVERAGE american gets their medications cheaper here than in Canada is a true statement.

    You are arguing that the US should adopt a Canadian style system that would RAISE the cost for medications for 84% of the US. Why do you want to punish the 84% that have insurance?

  • mark Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 15, 2013 5:52 p.m.

    "Canadian drug prices are certainly lower than US retail prices. But there are two prices (at least) in the US market: a “retail” price, and a discounted price for large drug plans.

    When discounts are taken into account, the average price paid by large US purchasers is certainly lower than the average Canadian retail price.

    To date, only groups with limited price negotiating power, mostly the uninsured and some states whose negotiating power is constrained by federal law, have sought price relief in Canada. They do so with good reason: when these groups purchase drugs within their own country, they actually subsidize the drug purchases of major insurance companies."- from the same article.

    Yeah, you are missing the point, RedShirt. You said "We are already paying less for our drugs here. . . " When you said "WE" you mean those who HAVE insurance; when you say "WE" are paying less you aren't including those that are uninsured, you are only meaning YOU and those that ARE insured. You don't include everybody in your club.

    It's even more insidious that those WITHOUT insurance are subsidizing those WITH insurance.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    Oct. 15, 2013 4:00 p.m.

    To "mark" you are the one who should be re-reading that article. They were clear that the average American (meaning not all, but a large portion of them) are able to get their medications from the American pharmacutical companies at a discount and not the retail price.

    The group you refer to is the Canadian market, not the US market.

    The article makes note of who it is that is buying the drugs from the Canadian pharmacies. They are the MINORITY group "with limited price negotiating power, mostly the uninsured and some states whose negotiating power is constrained by federal law".

    Next time, try reading the entire article, and understand that for the majority of americans, a.k.a. the average american, they pay less than retail price thanks to negociations between their insurance companies and the drug manufacturers.

  • mark Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 15, 2013 3:10 p.m.

    "A large proportion of sales are to US customers, who are estimated to purchase upward of US$1 billion in drugs per year from Canadian pharmacies. Americans are turning to Canadian pharmacies with good reason: for many of them, Canadian retail prices for brand-name prescription drugs are a bargain. But, even in this era of free trade and regulatory harmonization, many American policy-makers are opposed to such bargain hunting. Although their opposition generally revolves around a purported concern with public safety, the underlying objections are clearly rooted in protecting the industry's profitability. In doing so, policy-makers are supporting pricing strategies that ultimately harm uninsured and underinsured Americans."

    Redshirt, that is from the article you cite. You might want to reread it (or actually read it for a first time). Its not saying what you claim.

  • The Hammer lehi, utah
    Oct. 15, 2013 2:33 p.m.

    I totally feel the same way. Great letter. I am tired of the big corporate mindedness and the big government hawks that want to run everything. Those people don't care about the average worker and it is becoming more clear everyday that these people only care about their profit line or how much they control peoples lives. Obamacare is a mess based on a failed model and so is big corporate care.

  • Redshirt1701 Deep Space 9, Ut
    Oct. 15, 2013 1:00 p.m.

    To "Chance Williams" you should read "Internet pharmacy: prices on the up-and-up" from the Canadian Medical Association Journal. They find that thanks to insurance companies and other private groups that buy medications in bulk that "When discounts are taken into account, the average price paid by large US purchasers is certainly lower than the average Canadian retail price."

    Also, thanks to canadian price controls, generic drugs cost more in Canada than they do in the US.

    We are already paying less for our drugs here, why would we want to emulate Canada that would increase the average price paid for our medications?

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    Oct. 15, 2013 10:26 a.m.

    J in AZ - not totally correct, but yes, Canada has different rules for how companies come up with their cost for drugs. If what you claim were true, there would be no drug development in Canda, or even other socialized medicine nations. But alas, we know that isn't true.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    Oct. 15, 2013 12:00 a.m.

    Flashback: If I need the surgery, I'll get the surgery. For me the wait will be to get a medivac home if I'm down south. That's My US health care plan, as a dual citizen. Get out. Canada's longevity stats don't exceed those of the US for no reason. Last year, I needed a stent put in. It appeared urgent; got it done at the Peter Lougheed hospital with a so called waitlist of about 7 days after diagnosis. Nice place, with gift shops, fancy equipment, great staff and that hospital smell. I was back home to AF 4 days after that, with me driving almost all of it. I felt good. The bulk of the cost I incurred was hospital parking charges. About seventy bucks. Yes, that was my entire expenditure for the surgery and hospital stay above and beyond what I pay as income tax in Canada. I do not need to be wished good luck. I expected, and received, better. I know health care can be delivered without paying dividends to insurance company shareholders. And that it can be done for everyone.

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    Oct. 14, 2013 8:47 p.m.

    Re:2bits

    " The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center -- named one of the ten best hospitals in the nation by U.S. News -- cares for the sick and saves lives.

    As a nonprofit organization, it also receives a tax break. But in recent months there have been questions raised as to whether the hospital acts more like a corporation, reaping big profits and driving up health care costs.

    According to an audited financial statement, UPMC made $948 million in profits from 2011-2012. And while tax returns show it spends just two percent of its yearly budget on charity care, the hospital receives a state and federal tax break of about $200 million, according to city estimates.

    UPMC's CEO, Jeffrey Romoff, makes almost $6 million a year. That makes him the highest paid CEO of any large nonprofit hospital in the U.S., according to a recent analysis by TIME. Romoff also has more than a dozen administrators that take in annual salaries of over $1 million, and according to the city, he has access to a private chef, chauffeur, and a jet, as well as one of the most expensive office spaces in Pittsburgh."
    (CBS 2013)

  • Flashback Kearns, UT
    Oct. 14, 2013 6:32 p.m.

    Hutterite, good luck with that arterial graft bypass surgery in Canada you mentioned. I hope you live long enough to get to the surgery after the Canadian waitlist gets to you. (I know you were just using that as an example, but I couldn't resist)

  • Flashback Kearns, UT
    Oct. 14, 2013 6:29 p.m.

    I remember the days when health insurance was for catastrophic events, not all encompassing. It seemed in those days that everyone could go to the family doctor for as long as it took, pay the doctor, and go home without worrying about making an insurance claim. Medical care was cheap, efficient, good, and best of all the lawyers only stepped in when a doctor actually deserved to be sued.

    Now lawyers sue for hang nails, I have to have pay my co-pay and my deductible, my doctor sees me for five minutes, his office staff has doubled to help with all the new regulations Obamacare has foisted on him, he has to see more patients because of that, and my care is now not as good as it was many years ago.

    WE want to help out medical care? Get the government out of it as much as possible, enact tort reform, and fire the President and Congress as soon as possible.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    Oct. 14, 2013 5:37 p.m.

    Thanks to ECR for furthering my explanation. Of course I want doctors and nurses and all the front line health care providers to earn a decent living. Ideally more than they do now.
    Yes, I'm trying to vilify insurance companies. It isn't necessarily their fault, but they shouldn't even exist, because health isn't an insurable commodity. I guess I didn't make that clear in my first post. If I need an autobody mechanic, I can take my time. Shop around. Get a fender from a wrecker if I want. Learn before I choose. If I need arterial graft bypass surgery, none of that applies. As for insurance companies, they do profit from distress. They have to. They have shareholders and ads and buildings and lawyers and software developers to pay for. None of this, not one bit, provides front line health care. That's why we need a single payer system. The payers, which is everyone, are closely connected to the providers of care to those who need, which is everyone. Going to see my doctor tomorrow; he's paid well. By Alberta Health Services. No insurance necessary.

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Oct. 14, 2013 5:16 p.m.

    There is no such thing as a non-profit business organization. Business organization are those who deal with money.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Oct. 14, 2013 3:48 p.m.

    ECR,
    Most Hospitals in America are already "non-Profits". I know Intermountain Healthcare is. I assume the UofU Med Center is.

    This pretense that there are a bunch of rich people getting rich off of medical care is just a myth.

    Who profits from all the care Intermountain gives? Nobody. There's no owners, stock holders, CEOs, etc.

    Who exactly are these "people who do nothing to make sick people well or to provide preventive healthcare to help healthy people stay that way, and yet make a healthy profit from the work of others"? Can you name them for us???

    ---

    Insurance companies have provided (or payed for) preventative care for me, and enabled my family to be able to afford care for the past 50 years. So I think they are doing something to help my family stay healthy... so I hope you're not trying to vilify them.

    Just because they didn't help EVERYBODY... doesn't mean they didn't help ANYBODY.

    They can only afford to help the people who pay premiums you know. The government will be the same way. They can't pay more out in benefits than they collect from subscribers.

  • casual observer Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 14, 2013 2:26 p.m.

    In 2010 Warren Buffet said we should drop the ACA and focus on getting the cost of medical care down. The same still applies. Few countries have ideal health care delivery and the ACA does little to place the US in the top echelon. The feared inadequacies of government medicine (single payer) is illustrated by Canada moving toward private insurance much as the UK has. Universal care and cost control must go hand in hand.

  • J in AZ San Tan Valley, AZ
    Oct. 14, 2013 2:12 p.m.

    Chance and UtahBlueDevil,

    You both need to understand that Canada, along with a number of other nations, does not permit pharmaceutical companies to recoup the cost of research and development of new products. In those countries they are only allowed to charge the cost of manufacturing and distribution.

    You would do better to demand that the rest of the world pay their fair share of the cost of creating new medical products rather than trying to kill medical R&D by making it impossible for companies to afford the expense of research.

  • ECR Burke, VA
    Oct. 14, 2013 1:44 p.m.

    2 bits asked Hutterite, "Then what are you going to do If.... and nobody WANTS to be a doctor, nurse, tow truck driver, mechanic, etc, at the government pay grade that insures they don't profit?"

    You need to understand what is meant by profit. Nobody I know who is against healthcare as a for profit business thinks doctors, nurses, or even administrative staff at hospitals and clinics get paid too much. In fact, most of them should be paid better than they are for the work they do.

    What I am against, and I assume Hutterite is too, is people who do nothing to make sick people well or to provide preventive healthcare to help healthy people stay that way, and yet make a healthy profit from the work of others. "Profit" is not the salaries paid to those individuals, it is what is paid extra, above and beyond the cost of their salaries and the physical facilities and equipment used to perform their work. Profit goes in the pockets of CEOs and other senior executives, usually in the form of enormous bonuses above and beyond their already inflated salaries.. That's what's wrong about profit.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Oct. 14, 2013 12:57 p.m.

    Hutterite,
    Then what are you going to do IF you are able to make is so the government can insure that nobody can profit.... and nobody WANTS to be a doctor, nurse, tow truck driver, mechanic, etc, at the government pay grade that insures they don't profit?

    What do we do when there are no doctors or nurses or people supporting them?

    Have the Government FORCE people to go into those "non-profit" careers???

  • 2 bit Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Oct. 14, 2013 12:37 p.m.

    Hutterite,
    Re: "The biggest unfair trade practice in the medical industry is that anyone gets to profit from someone elses' distress"...

    Are you saying that doctors, nurses, and researchers, and software developers, support people, HR people, janitors, and hospital finance people, bio-engineering people, people in medical research, people inventing new medicines... all should work for free? I mean they are ALL profiting from someone elses distress... right?

    Maybe you're saying people just should just not be allowed to "PROFIT" from what they do? Basically not get paid, or only get paid what the Government thinks their work was worth?

    Maybe we should have a government set wage they could earn (but nothing more)?

    For that matter don't mechanics, body work specialists, parts suppliers, etc, profiting from somebody else's distress (I know I'm usually pretty distressed when I have to take my car to them).

    Don't tow truck drivers profit from somebody's distress?

    If we make it illegal to profit when somebody's in distress... how are you going to enforce that??? Socialism? Communism? Government set wages? How will you do it?? How will you insure that nobody profits when another is in distress??

  • 2 bit Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Oct. 14, 2013 12:12 p.m.

    First you're going to have to define "unfair trade practices". I suspect everybody won't agree on what's "Fair". That's the problem. Especially if you want POLITICIANS (who can't agree on ANYTHING) to define what's "Fair" for everybody.

    Politicians defining what's "fair" always runs amok. Because their job depends on giving people the IMPRESSION that they are taking care of THEM over everybody else (which is the antithesis of "fair").

    Politicos have to promise lots of stuff that's free (or at least costs less to the person receiving it than it actually costs)... so the voter can see them as providing some BENEFIT to them.... or they won't vote for them, and will instead vote for the OTHER guy who will promise them more free (or discounted, or paid for by somebody else) stuff.

    Playing by the above rules RARELY works out to be "fair" (for everybody). When they finagle the system enough that it seems "fair" to the people who are used to getting things from the government for free... there's usually somebody on the other end of the equation paying for it... who doesn't think it's "Fair".

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    Oct. 14, 2013 11:45 a.m.

    The biggest unfair trade practise in the medical industry is that anyone gets to profit from someone elses' distress. Health care and health itself are commodities unlike any other, and certainly ones which cannot be insured. There's no way someone's employer should have any say in the matter. When it comes to health care there a some sure things. First, regardless of any other condition or status in our lives, each and every one of us will need it. In addition, few of us at our best, let alone when we're in a crisis, are capable and knowledgeable enough to make good decisions about what we need for care. Finally, the good health of all citizens provides benefits to society far greater than it does for any one person. Every hospital that's ever gouged an insurance company; every insurance company that's denied a procedure, all this takes away from the provision of care to people. It's inefficient and corrupt. Health care has to stop being an industry. It's time for a single payer system.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    Oct. 14, 2013 11:06 a.m.

    Chance... the republicans actually passed a law making it illegal for Americans to buy drugs cheaper in Canada, then they pay here. They banned free trade to protect US prices. It was the most amazing twist of free trade I have seen in many decades. It was all part of the 'deal' extracted to expand medicare drug plans... It also bans companies from extending the same prices to individuals that it has negotiated with Medicare.

    It was amazing to watch. And no one said much about it, because everyone's pockets got fatter.

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Oct. 14, 2013 11:05 a.m.

    I too would like there to be a free market for the cost of health care. And also for education, transportation and some other things.

    I would like for the national government to be a participant in the free market of all the requirements of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I would not disallow private enterprise or even local government but I would like for all Americans to have available the generic brand.

    In health care, the government would simply pay for all medical costs and charge to participants for its total cost. Individuals or groups could buy their own insurance according to the cost of their plans. The cost of each separate system to be paid by the participants of that system only.

    I would like to have a choice between schools for my children with the national government being a choice.

    I would like there to be a national mortgage at the interest percentage determined by the national participation.

  • Gildas LOGAN, UT
    Oct. 14, 2013 9:47 a.m.

    I think that this is a balanced letter: both systems stink. There are other options and that is what we should be considering now.

    There should be freedom and there should be choice: including choice to have insurance or not - without penalty for making the "wrong" choice. There should be affordable health care and it looks to me that neither system provides it. I know that private health care does not provide it and all the signs are that this new wonder does not provide; some say it is even worse for most people: higher deductibles and higher premiums for the same coverage. Let's look into that.

    We can do better than this! Let's talk about the cost to the insured and let's have details. I welcome this letter talking about a real situation. Can we have more please?
    Actual numbers are helpful.

  • Mike in Cedar City Cedar City, Utah
    Oct. 14, 2013 9:06 a.m.

    You have part of your facts correct. But where you are wrong is that the ACA puts government in control of health care. All it really does it put some restrictions on the Health Insurance companies so that it is more difficult for them to discriminate against users as to premium costs and coverage limits.

    I don't know why you "lost your health coverage because of the ACA. You should have explained that. But if it was your employer that dropped coverage, you need to point the finger at your employer not the ACA. There have been some employers who have dropped coverage and used the ACA as an excuse. There have also been some employers who have reduced hours to avoid the ACA requirements to provide insurance to employee. Is it the ACA that is the bad actor or is it the employers?

    By the way, the ACA does work to hold premiums cost down. If you really want an effective health provider cost control. You will need to support a single payer system where the payer can negotiate with providers.

  • redshirt007 tranquility base, 00
    Oct. 14, 2013 8:16 a.m.

    I feel for you but you have your facts mixed up. The Obamacare / ACA was the republicans plan going back to the Heritage foundation from 20 years ago.

    They didn't think insurance pools were communistic back then did they?

    There are some vengeful employers all over the country dropping coverage for their employees more out of spite for Obama than that of costs. They probably love having an excuse and scapegoat for them to save the money.

    The irony is they expect you to go to the government now for help even though they are republicans. They seem to have enough faith in it not to be too worried to drop your coverage huh? You would think they would take responsibility if they believed their own mantras.