Warren Buffett is speaking his mind on health care. He says the focus should be on cost reduction first. He is right, but the administration sees it differently. They are interested in coverage, for the 30 million they say cannot purchase insurance. Buffett disputes the “best medical system in the world ” claims. He cites doctors per thousand and nurses per thousand favoring competing systems as he calls it. Buffett says he would support the Senate bill rather then keep the status quo. Close call there! The Senate bill is deeply flawed and a lot of people think less of it than that.
At the so-called health care summit last week I kept thinking the Republican group still like the status quo. Buffett and many, many others have said the status quo will bankrupt us, but that has not moved the Republicans.
Actually, some of the Republican ideas, maybe produced by political duress, seem to make sense, but their heart is not in it. Sometimes, I listen to talk radio, albeit briefly, just to see how extreme and irrational they present things. Last week, low and behold, there was Sen. Lamar Alexander on a recorded exerpt defending insurance company profits. Alexander, if I understood him correctly, said the insurance company profits amounted to 2 days of health care costs. He contrasted that with the 363 days of paying the bills. Alexander did not bother to define costs or to define profits. Better, what is the relationship, if any, on insurance company profits and health care costs. For instance, if a health insurance policy pays 12K for a surgical procedure that is worth 4K; what market influences or Medicare reform will produce 4K? Where is the incentive to reduce costs? Profits could be a constant. It would have been fun to see him quizzed on his statement. But, talk radio specializes in simple answers and catch phrases.
The best estimates that I go on shows that around 30% of health care costs involve fraud or waste. That should be the first order of business for Congress.