Healthcare Industry Starts Responding To Moore's Sicko


COLUMBUS (ASRN.ORG) - As the nation heads to movie theaters this weekend to see Sicko, Michael Moore's expose on U.S. healthcare, the company that operates an innovative healthcare program that has dramatically reduced cost by improving patient assistance says that government-run healthcare would increase, rather than solve, America's healthcare problems.

Randall E. Gebhardt, president of Quantum Health Inc., said that Michael Moore falsely implies that government-run healthcare works well in Canada and the U.K., and that an expansion in the government's already heavy-handed role in U.S. healthcare - Medicare already directly controls 40% of all healthcare dollars and indirectly controls another 50% - would result in more suffering, more deaths, and significantly higher costs over the next 20 years.

"Michael Moore reaches back and dredges up horror stories from the 1980s and 1990s, and there is a definite implication that healthcare would work better if run by the government," said Randall E. Gebhardt, president of Quantum Health.

"If you want to know how government-run healthcare would work, just think back to the last time you stood in line at the post office, or waited on hold for two hours with the IRS or Immigration service to check on the passport application you sent five months ago, or the news coverage you watched of relief efforts after Katrina. Just think, all your healthcare needs could be run this way."

"There are many ills with U.S. healthcare, and we agree with Michael Moore that the insurance carriers are a big part of the problem. But government already runs 40-50% of U.S. healthcare, and that is also a big part of the problem. If this role were expanded, we would see a national disaster that would make Katrina look like a little weekend annoyance," Gebhardt said.

Gebhardt said that, ironically, Moore's movie makes exactly the point it hopes to disprove - the free market system is functioning well in healthcare. HMOs, whose ethics and patient-insensitivity Moore bashes, had a 70% market share in 1995, but have fallen to less than 25% because patients and their employers have rejected them.

"Hey, Michael," Gebhardt said, "thanks for showing us that the free market system works. The horror stories you dredge up from the 1990s were corrected by the market, because employers and patients rejected the control-oriented HMOs that caused those problems."

"If the government had been running healthcare, the market couldn't have voted with their dollars, and bureaucrats in committee rooms would have retained the status quo - while passing more rules to control behavior - and we'd all be covered by HMOs with even more bureaucracy and an even more confusing maze of paperwork."

"Just look at Canada and the U.K. - that's what they have now. That's why millions of patients are currently waiting for treatment there, and thousands of Canadians cross the border to get the care they need, when they need it, in the U.S."

But while Gebhardt said it would be a national disaster for government to expand its role in running healthcare, he said there is an important role government should play in driving the market to greater efficiency. He outlined several initiatives the government should take:

  • Make discounts on healthcare services illegal.  Today, insurance carriers and PPOs drive the market with "hidden" discounts that distort market dynamics, because no one knows what is truly being paid for healthcare services.  To pay for these discounts, hospitals and physicians charge higher prices to those with less healthcare insurance coverage.
  • Require the cost of all healthcare services to be posted publicly, the way prices for products must be clearly marked on supermarket shelves.Transparency in pricing is crucial to efficient healthcare buying.
  • Require providers to submit regular reports to a national database on healthcare outcomes, quality and cost.  Over five years, this will create a national database that all buyers can use to make effective usage and purchasing decisions.
  • Increase financial grants and incentives to medical students choosing to specialize in the primary care specialties - family medicine internal medicine and pediatrics.  Statistics clearly show that these primary care specialties are less popular because they offer lower income potential and status than interventional sub-specialties.   The lower income is a direct result of policies in the Medicare system, which devalue the services of primary care physicians and forbid
    payment for coordination of care activities such as calling the patient or other doctors to coordinate care between visits.

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Articles in this issue:


  • Masthead

    Editor-in Chief:
    Kirsten Nicole

    Editorial Staff:
    Kirsten Nicole
    Stan Kenyon
    Robyn Bowman
    Kimberly McNabb
    Lisa Gordon
    Stephanie Robinson

    Kirsten Nicole
    Stan Kenyon
    Liz Di Bernardo
    Cris Lobato
    Elisa Howard
    Susan Cramer

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