Monday, July 09, 2007

On National Health Care

If the Democrats are to be believed, the biggest issue in the next presidential campaign after the Iraq War is national health care. While I agree that due to the lack of tort reform and the sometimes ridiculous payouts garnered by the likes of John Edwards and his fellow trial lawyers, they are shutting the barn door after the horse has run away. The problem with our public health system is not simply the precipitous rise in costs, but the very reason that clinics, hospitals and healthcare providers have had to raise the prices on those of us who pay through the nose for health insurance. And that reason is the illegal immigrants who are accessing our public clinics and hospitals for medical care, including the birth of "anchor babies" that will help insure their residency. Advocates for those here illegally like to say that via sales taxes and property taxes derived via rent, that immigrants pay their "fair share". But exactly how fair is that? If they are being paid off the books, as so many are who work in day labor, then no income taxes, no medicare, no disability payments are removed. Yet when they enter into most public hospitals, they can claim a full amount of service and since many of them use false identities via fraudulent documents or matricula consulare-which are virtually untraceable-they can walk out of the hospital and never pay. Try that if you have insurance. And healthcare is just the tip of the iceberg. It's no secret that schools are struggling to stay ahead of their budgets, largely because of federal programs such as ESL, free lunch, free breakfast, etc. Nobody wants to see a child go hungry. I don't want a child to go hungry. But I also think charity begins at home. Are there not enough poor folks born and raised here that need such services? Would more of the working poor and their employers be able to afford health insurance if the burden of paying for those who use public medical services but DO NOT PAY were out of the system? It is a simple fact of supply and demand that when additional costs are added into the system, in order to survive, the system MUST pass along those costs to those individuals and companies that CAN PAY. So when you get a bill for that three dollar Tylenol or that twelve dollar ice pack, it is because of the six or seven other people who simply will not pay. When we talk about mandates there is a certain amount of personal ethics that has to ensue. While we should take care of our poor and needy, we are not mandated to care for the poor and needy of all other nations.

From the Dallas Morning News(excerpt from link on the title)

"In 2004, the hospital spent $70.7 million delivering 15,938 babies but ended the year with a $7.9 million surplus in obstetrics.

The positive bottom line resulted from a hefty infusion of Medicaid funds, about $34.5 million, to cover the delivery costs for the undocumented women. Dallas County taxpayers also kicked in $31.3 million, or about 40 percent of the total obstetrics costs, and the federal government paid an additional $9.5 million to make up for the hospital's high percentage of patients on Medicaid, the state-federal insurance program for the poor."

Here's the math:
(from Insurance .com.)
Typical costs: According to the cost of having a baby depends on where you live. The average ranges from $6,000 to $8,000 for a normal vaginal delivery and $10,000 to $12,000 for a cesarean birth (in some parts of the country, the costs can reach $14,000). Care with a nurse-midwife may cost less; a complicated pregnancy will cost more; and some practitioners and hospitals offer a sliding scale based on family income."

"Look instead to the bursting-with-life corridors of Parkland Memorial Hospital, a remarkable place that delivers more than 16,000 babies per year -- more babies than any other hospital in the country. That's more babies, in fact, than are born in 10 of America's states."

So let's do a little simple math based on the lowest numbers. Please realize that these are rounded numbers for the last year available, 2006, which means that the number are probably higher NOW.

16,000 total births at Parkland Hospital x 70% of the births to illegal immigrants=
11,200 deliveries to illegal immigrants at Parkland Hospital

11,200 deliveries to illegal immigrants x $6000 per for vaginal birth
(I figured that there were a few good souls that did pay and there were some women who had ceasarians or complications that were higher and that would somewhat account for the general ballpark figure)

Yes folks you read that right-Sixty Seven MILLION dollars and some change. And that is just at one hospital. I hesitate to even think exponentially how that balloons when you consider ALL the public hospitals across the nation. So those of you who blindly follow the Clintonian concept of free health care for all, please remember why we can't afford health care now. And it's not greedy Big Pharma-that's due to lack of tort reform, and it's not the Doctors because they are snafu'd in their own medical liability insurance hell, and it's not the hospitals which are paring down services and rapidly becoming specialty hospitals to accommodate special needs-it's the number of people here who use our medical system as a social stopgap for the problems they have left behind in their home countries.

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