Why the U.S. desperately Needs Health Care Reform

Opinion by Patricia L Johnson

My health insurance company has been billed hundreds of thousands of dollars for various long-term injuries/illnesses acquired during the past 35 months. The deductible and co-insurance payments were astronomical, but fortunately I have two insurance carriers.

Do you have two medical insurance policies? Would you be able to pay the deductibles and co-insurance if you were in the same position? Many, many people could not and sometimes people get illnesses where you can’t say, well – I think I’ll skip the treatment this month because I really can’t afford the additional expense.

Medical care in this country is totally out of control. One of the main reasons is pharmaceutical costs Pharmaceutical companies will develop a new drug and use it in a trial for xx number of years or months. If the findings are beneficial to a patient, that trial period becomes the recommended period of time that a patient should take the drug, until a new trial is performed obtaining the same results within a shorter period of time. The truth is they don’t want to run trials for shorter periods or manufacture generics because it’s not beneficial to their stockholders to bring in a lower profit each month. Their goal is higher profits.

Ask yourself honestly – why would they want to run a shorter trial when they can keep you hooked on their drug for an extended period? It’s not like you can go out and purchase a substitute. The pharmaceutical company obtains a patent and no one can manufacture the generic version of that that drug until the patent runs out.

The patent allows the pharmaceutical company to recoup the research and development costs of the drug. This manner of protecting drug companies was beneficial ‘back in the day’. A new day has dawned however, and pharmaceutical companies don’t need 10-12 years to recoup costs. They simply raise the price of the drug and make a tidy profit the first year.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Public Law 111-148 passed by the Obama administration, in March of 2010, is the first step toward reducing health care costs in this country. This public law has been met with nothing less than moans and groans but the fact is this country must have health insurance reform to survive.

A major error made by the Bush administration was providing Medicare Part D coverage to the elderly and disabled, without providing the Department of Health and Human Services the ability to negotiate the price of drugs with pharmaceutical companies. For example – Medicare pays $1,485.00 for a year’s supply of the cholesterol drug Zocor, while Veterans Affairs pays $127.00 for the same quantity. The difference is Veterans Affairs is allowed to negotiate prescription drug prices with the pharmaceutical companies, while Medicare is not.

If you want to take a look at politics at it’s very worse check out the following 60 minutes report on drug lobbyists and the Medicare Part D bill. The Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003 (MMA) was signed into law December 8, 2003 and went into effect January 1, 2006.

This bill was not a gift to the elderly and disabled in this country. It was a gift to big business in the form of increased revenues for pharmaceutical companies courtesy of President George W. Bush and his Republican Congress. If you doubt this claim, take a look at the following listing. In 2009, these pharmaceutical companies were ranked 1 to 5. (1) Johnson and Johnson (2) Pfizer (3) Abbott Laboratories (4) Merck and (5) Wyeth. 2005 Revenues (in millions) are as follows: (1) $10,411.0 (2) 8.085.0 (3) 3,372.1 (4) $4,631.3 and (5) $3,656.3 for a total revenue for these five companies of $30.1 billion for 2005.

By 2009 these revenues had increased by $158 billion to the following: (1) $63,747.0 (2) $48,296.0 (3) $29,527.6 (4) $23,850.3 and (5) $22,833.9 for a revenue total for 2009 of $188 billion.

Simply stated, the Republicans provided the Pharmaceutical industry with the gift of an additional $58 billion dollars in sales during the four-year period from 2006 to 2009 (after the law went into effect).

What did the Republicans do to increase your income during that same period of time?

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