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July 21st, 2009
01:08 PM ET

soundoff (200 Responses)
  1. Roccy De Francesco

    You can never trust a plan in which, members of congress and the executive branch do not have to particpate. Until congress and the president will share "our" problem by receiving exactly what the rest of us get, they have no credibility. As a result, the public should demand all members of congress and the executive branch be a part of the health care plan they proposed for us.

    July 23, 2009 at 08:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Jiney

    I am a Canadian, I have a doctor that I have choosen, I can go to my doctor as many times as I wish. No one has ever asked me for a credit card. I have annual medical check-ups, mammograms when necessary, and blood work done as part of that annual check-up. I recently watched Dick Cheny's daughter on CNN's Larry King. She talked, as if she knew, about the Canadian medical system, her comments were filled with inaccuracies. Perhaps CNN should consider talking to the average Canadian about their health care (and perhaps anything else, so the average American is better informed about Canada and Canadians. Healthcar here is not perfect, we do have problems due to lack of focus on preventative health care and underfunding, but I think you do the average American a terrible disservice by not reporting accurate facts.

    The recent commercial displaying a disgruntled "Canadian" is one person with an issue, we don't know her circumstances, or the facts about her medical condition, nor whether she is being compensated for her comments. I can tell from personal experience since I recently broke my leg, I was provided with emergency medical service in a hospital, had surgery and remained in the hospital for 4 days and it cost me nothing!

    Don't let large corporations, and monopolies dictate what is best for the average American, and please report the facts about Canadian healthcare. I agree it is not perfect, but we are all covered, isn't that better than what you currently have?

    regards

    July 23, 2009 at 11:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Sheldon Pelly

    Hi Sanjay: I am a retired Special Ed. teacher in Toronto. It is astounding to many of us here to listen to the healthcare "struggle" taking place in your country. The "mythology" about the Canadian system is particularly upsetting. Here are some facts:

    1. We ALL choose our own doctors.
    2. There is NEVER a medical bill; the Ministry of Health pays doctors directly.
    3. There is NEVER a cash register VISA MASTERCARD sign in a doctor's office or in the hospital.
    4. Unemployed? Change jobs? Get fired? Get laid off? Retire? HEALTHCARE CONTINUES UNINTERRUPTED.
    5. Treatment is provided based on medical need NOT INCOME.
    6. We can drop our doctor anytime and "shop" for another if we are not satisfied with the care.
    7. There are NO PREMIUMS. The service is comparable to public education or mail service or the military. What would Americans do it they had to begin paying premiums for their national defense?
    8. Politicians, homeless, unemployed, seniors, conservatives. liberals, socialists–all have the same access to the same system.
    9. Canadians NEVER need to budget healthcare costs...they don't exist. What could you do with this savings?
    10. The system becomes active when you are born in Canada and continues throughout life uninterrupted.

    Call it whatever you want–socialized medicine, public healthcare, government run healthcare-it works and it is universal, accessible and free. It is time for Americans to hear from "unpaid" Canadians like me.....not the compensated endorsers seen in recent TV commercials.

    Don't let the propoganda affect you. Sheldon Pelly

    July 23, 2009 at 11:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. nancy

    Dr Gupta,

    Most doctors are not the problem. Insurance companies and drug companies have had record profits in the past several years. Doctors fees have went down. My health insurance is $1000.00 a month and the reimbursement to my doctor is terrible. Insurance reform is what we need. When I recently had a chest x-ray my insurance paid my doctor $5.00. I agree that there are Doctors that own there own diagnostic equipment that should not be allowed do abuse the system,but my doctor is grossly underpaid and overworked.

    July 23, 2009 at 11:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. M

    Growing up in a universal health care country I know it is not the walhalla people in the US think it is. The things you do not hear about are: costs and how it gets funded (people pay a lot more in taxes..), long, long waiting lists for most common procedures, most of these countries are moving (some partially) away from this system and are moving toward a system where everybody pays for their own insurance (you choose your own level of co-pay, level of insurance etc) and on top of that have mandetory co-pays for a doctors visit or for medicine.

    Before the US goes into any major overhaul it needs to curb costs and make sure there is less waste; which also means to look at doctors pay. I do agree everybody should have health insurance, but you cannot change a system that costs too much and have so-called "rich or wealthy" people make up for the shortfall if it happens to not work out the way you think or hope it will. The people they are talking about for additional taxes are mostly hardworking people that live a good live, not the super wealthy who wouldn't notice $10000 a year in extra taxes.
    The new system will have to pay for itself with excisting moneys and cost cutting.

    July 23, 2009 at 11:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Greg

    Has the concept of Non-Profit health insurance ever been raised? and is it feasable?

    July 23, 2009 at 11:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Dez

    I am one of the many uninsured American citizens. I'm a 45 year old male who can't even get an annual physical or the dental care I so urgently require. There are cost savings to be found within the current system so that everyone can have coverage. How about we start by cutting out the overcharging to medicare and medicaid by suppliers and providers for things such as medical equipment and $12.00 Tylenols during hospital stays? Why do hospital Tylenols cost so much? Do we import them from Mars? The corruption on all levels is so blatant and disgraceful.

    July 23, 2009 at 12:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Robert Bailey

    I am a recent retiree with an excellent health care package. However, I feel strongly that any and all legal residents should be entitled to an affordable health care program. I am willing to pay more to benefit the program. At the same time, if more people have access to the health care system, the overall cost will in fact go down and at the same time enable the medical community to benefit in the learning & teaching process due to the increased number of particular procedures. If the system was to use technology appropriately, a wealth of information for health treatment could be accessed from a collective data base.

    July 23, 2009 at 12:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Cindy

    I am tired of Insurance companies misleading the public. Check those EOB's(explanation of benifits) folks! The doctors aren't making the money insurace companies are. To see patients in a specific insurance plan a doctor has to accept there discounts which can be lower than Medicare many are based on medicare based fees. Wake up they are trying to save their golden parachutes. Check their salerys and bonuses.

    July 23, 2009 at 12:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Kim

    Subject: Healthy, Self-Employed Denied Health Insurance

    Dr. Gupta,

    Thank you for providing this forum. I am writing to call your attention to an issue in our health care system that is less publicized. I am a 38 year-old, single, female HEALTHY entrepreneur. Two years ago, I left the corporate world to launch a business. With limited time remaining on California COBRA, I applied with Blue Shield of California and much to my surprise, received a denial letter.

    I appealed the denial and subsequently received a request from Blue Shield for additional information on two prior routine tests- both of which produced negative results. I supplied the results along with a letter from my physician, reiterating my healthy status. Four months later, I just received notification my appeal was denied.

    The two reasons cited:

    1) I had a normal pap smear in September 2008. During this office visit, my health care provider informed me of a new, secondary test which indicates whether a FUTURE pap might return positive. This additional test came back positive, indicating in the future, I could possibly have an abnormal pap smear. Bottom line, as my doctor indicated, I am currently healthy with normal pap results.

    2) During the same visit, while doing a routine breast exam, the provider recommended I have a lump checked out. The results came back negative, stating I have normal cysts. The recommendation was to return when I turn 40 for a routine mammogram.

    My denial cites these two factors “exceed Blue Shield’s underwriting acceptance criteria” and as a result…“we must decline your request for health care coverage”. I do not have any pre-existing health conditions and the two routine tests in question rendered negative results. It appears our health care system may be so diseased that even HEALTHY INDIVIDUALS WHO CAN AFFORD COVERAGE, are being denied by insurance companies. Recently, I have learned of several other healthy, self-employed, thirty-something people who were also denied coverage.

    I understand there are issues around “over-treating” patients, however, in my opinion both of my tests were perfectly reasonable and the right thing to do. I feel compelled to voice two strong concerns:

    1) In the immediate term, with California COBRA expiring, I may be without reasonable insurance options, which is leaving me very concerned about the viability of my business.

    2) While I believe a government-sponsored insurance option might make sense, I do not believe it should be the ONLY option for those who can afford insurance. I strongly believe THE UNDERWRITING PRACTICES OF INSURANCE PROVIDERS NEED TO BE REVIEWED as the idea of denying healthy individuals is beyond words. I can only imagine how difficult this must be on those who are dealing with pre-existing conditions.

    I am happy to provide any documentation or serve as a voice for this segment of healthy, small-business owners who are being denied coverage.

    Best,

    Kim

    July 23, 2009 at 12:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. marion andrews

    I am an american indian from the oneida reservation.If i need medical care of any kind Ihave to go to the res in North Carolina.Ilive in al.Iam on ssi due to an MI. My res. is recieving fed aide in all directions but we who live off res do not whats up? I have tp pay for all my own dental work, my 20% on pre drugs ,which are very expensive, can not get food stamps because my ssi is twenty dollars to much. please let me hear from you. marion

    July 23, 2009 at 12:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Carol Prinz

    My husband has had health insurance for 30 yrs from the company he works for, when he found out he had prostate cancer they would not let him use any of the urologists in a large practice in our city. They were fighting over how much the doctors charged, we could wait 6 months to get into a less expensive urologist that did not do the latest treatment. He ended up going to an oncologist that did not do the latest robotic surgery and had radiation instead. He is doing well but wouldn't it have been nice to have had a choice. Insurance companies are just out to make money. Bring on government health care.

    July 23, 2009 at 12:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Joe

    I have yet to hear of anyone resisting healh care reform who doesn't have health care. I pay for it, but I don't really have it. And my situation is not unique. I'm talking about those criminal scam companies who advertise on TV for individual health insurance as low as $6 per day.

    The discussion on health care should have started with some basic questions:
    1. Are we a "caring" nation?
    2. What kind of people are we?
    3. What is our national character?

    Generally speaking, if you have health care you don't care much about those who do not (leave Obama and others out–they have political agendas). And that is why those millions of uninsured will probably remain so.

    Sound crazy? We all need to look at our core values. For more craziness, humorous and serious, you can read more at::
    http://worsethanyouthink.weebly.com

    July 23, 2009 at 13:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Sheldon Pelly

    Imagine what opponents of government healthcare would say if Congress decided that citizens would pay monthly premiums for police services, public education and military defense. These are all socialized government services.

    July 23, 2009 at 13:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Sheldon Pelly

    "Socialized" means "operates for the betterment of society" as a whole. With 47ish million people uninsured in your country, is the American "privatized" system operating for your benefit or for private megaprofits? Why do so many Americans end up in bankruptcy when their neighbours to the north pay zero for excellent care and NEVER have to ask "How can I afford to be treated"?

    July 23, 2009 at 13:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Lynn Littau

    I wish someone would do a documentary on Canada's healthcare system. It is terrifying to think the cancer rate could increase 15% due to rationing; we could wait 9 months for a test; and our average age of death could drop!!. THIS IS THE DARK DARK MEDIEVAL AGES. All I hear on TV is about the cost but not the quality of care. I have been fighting cancer preventively for 21 years and can't imagine any more difficulties obstacles to living a very long life. HELP and do a program on rationing, healthcare quality, etc.

    Thank you.

    July 23, 2009 at 13:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Susan Pall

    IT IS MY UNDERSTANDING THAT INSULIN DELIVERY PUMPS ARE PROVIDED TO ALL DIEBETICS IN MANY OTHER COUNTRY'S THAT DO HAVE HEALTH CARE BECAUSE IT IS THE BEST SYSTEM TO DELIVER INSULIN AND IS COST EFFECTIVE BECAUSE IT BETTER PREVENTS THE COSTLY & DEBILITATING SIDE EFFECTS OF DIEBETIS.
    INSURANCE CARRIERS PAY FOR THE PUMP FOR REASONS OF MEDICAL NECESSITY WHILE MEDICARE ONLY PROVIDES THE PUMP FOR TYPE 1 DIEBETICS.
    THIS SIDE EFFECTS FROM THIS DESEASE FOR BOTH TYPE 1 & TYPE 2 ARE FAR MORE COSTLY THAN THE PUMP. WILL THIS COSTLY OVERSIGHT BE CORRECTED IN PRESIDENT OBAMA'S HEALTH PLAN & IF NOT WHY WHEN OTHER COUNTRIES HAVE ALREADY DONE THE MATH.
    THANK YOU.

    July 23, 2009 at 13:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Sheldon Pelly

    In a recent contest in Canada, the CBC asked: " Who is our greatest Canadian of all time?" Gordon Lightfoot? Joni MItchell? Pierre Trudeau? The winner was Tommy Douglas a prairie member of parliament and the " Father of Canadian Healthcare" Read about him.

    July 23, 2009 at 13:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. john

    Jim, you are a smart man. I like a lot of what you said. Frank, your commemt does not deserve even to be answered: you are either too young to even think or you are an unconscious old man!

    July 23, 2009 at 13:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Sheldon Pelly

    It will be a great day when the military has to hold a bake sale to raise money and the healthcare system is fully funded in America.

    And, it will be a great day when American doctors can treat their patients based on medical need without the "interference" from the health care insurance companies. You see, the truth is, the so-called "government interference" myth about the Canadian healthcare system plays on the American citizens' fear of "interference" when in reality, it is the American healthcare system that puts up roadblocks to a citizen's healthcare, NOT the Canadian system.

    We in Canada NEVER hear from the government or anyone else about our healthcare. Can Americans say the same thing about their medical insurance providers?

    July 23, 2009 at 13:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Sheldon Pelly

    How do Americans feel about the U.S. borrowing 12 billionish dollars from China etc per month for 2 foreign wars and, in the same breath, insist the government cannot provide healthcare. What about diverting a billion or so borrowed Asian dollars from the war efforts each month and get all Americans covered. "Ration" war funds: fully cover all citizens with quality healthcare and "tighten the belt" on waging wars. Imagine what 1 or 2 billion a month could do for the American healthcare system?

    In Canada we have sent our military forces to Afghanistan and we maintain our healthcare system as is. If we can do it.....................

    July 23, 2009 at 14:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Teree

    I think we need health care reform desperately. However, I do have a problem with one proposal that would require insurance companies to pay for abortions. An abortion is an ELECTIVE procedure and insurance currently does not and should not be required to pay for elective procedures. If the life of the mother is in danger, that is an emergency and insurance does pay for life-threatening emergencies.

    July 23, 2009 at 15:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Judy Newell

    H1N1 Virus

    In 1976 I got the Swine Flu Vacanation, I have read that this would not protect aganist this new strain H1N1.

    In June 2009 while visiting my Daughter and her family of six, they were all taken ill by a very bad virus. The entire family, ages 11 months to 34 years. One after the other, they came down, with fever,
    vommiting, diarreah, body aches, compared to being hit by a truck.
    The illness lasted about 48 hours each. I became care giver and waited my turn to be sick, but did not.. After a person is well, is there a test to see if it was actually the H1N1 virus? I am just curious, and wonder if the 76 Vacanation was the reason I did not become ill..

    Thanks

    July 23, 2009 at 15:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Judy Newell

    If we were able to send a man to the moon forty years, than we should have the brain power in this nation to formulate a plan that makes health care available to ALL Americans. The commercial from the Canidian woman with the brain tumor, is only intended to create fear, and is not true. The Fox interview I saw today, claiming millions of working Americans have insurance available but chose not to take advantage of it, made me SO ANGRY. The employee that spoke, said he could not afford the $200 a month, he choose not to have insurance. This guy looked to be in his twenties. He probably has not thought too much about his retirement yet either. He was very young, and might prefer to spend the money to travel or have nice cars etc.

    This interview insinuated that millionsof us have it available, but choose not to pay for it, and just want handouts This story had nothing to do with the reality of the health care problem.

    Obama said last night its not about him or congress, they have great insurance. I am a Baby Boomer, many years in my career, I had great coverage thru my employers, and I was happy to pay the premiums.

    October 2001, however, was the last time I had the luxury of company health plans. I was laid off, I could not afford Corbra or private health insurance policy.
    .
    As it turns out that was the last time I was able to have health insurance, until June 2009 when I became eligible for Medicare.

    For those eight years, I did not fit, into any slot, that would allow me to see a Doctor. There were many times I needed to. I had been on antidepressants, and blood pressure meds for fifteen years. My elderly mother requested and was prescribed the medication I needed, and so I surrived. At one point 2005, I paid $170. to see a Doctor She did an EKG and said that I had had a stroke or heart attach, and wanted me to see a cardiologist ASAP, when I told her I had no insurance, she said well if anything happens go to the ER.

    In this same time frame, a friend's mother had a quadruple bypass.
    She was my age, and the proceedure was paid for by the US, you see
    they were from Jordan and the surgery was preformed in Jordan. We paid because we deemed them refugees. I do not begrudge her medical treatment for any reason, but it felt wrong that I, a tax paying American Citizen could not see a Doctor.

    I believe, that every American Citizen has, the right to medical care.

    If they can get insurance from their employer, and decline, that is their right and they should not recieve assistance.

    Life's circumstances change, and sometimes we need help.

    We need all these well paid, well insured, politicians, insurance execs, talking heads etc., to stop the scare tactics the lining of pockets and take a step into reality and get it done.

    July 23, 2009 at 18:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Danielle

    Dr. Gupta:

    I haven't heard this issue discussed before and think it needs to be. I am 62 years old. I have Medicaid health insurance. Because I will loose the medical coverage if my income is as much as $900, I am drawing early social security, which is less than that. Consequently, my meager retirement savings is quickly disappearing to cover living expenses. After going through 5 years with a very painful back injury and no health coverage at all, Medicaid seems to be my only option.

    If affordable health coverage that would not exclude pre-existing conditions were available to me, I would be more than glad to leave the Medicaid rolls and pay for it. I can't work full-time but I might find a job that would pay enough to reduce my social security income. The money the government would save on me and others like me might do a lot to fill in the funding gap we are hearing so much about.

    From experience, I can tell you that Medicaid is not good insurance. Most doctors in my area won't accept it and some who do seem to be trying to set a record for getting me out of the office the fastest. It is better than nothing at all but it does not do what it should to promote wellness. The long term cost of that will be paid eventually.

    Please consider recommending the elimination of Medicare, Medicaid, Veterans Health Services, and all the other existing government programs. Everyone should have the same benefits and it only takes one government program to provide them. We don't need the administrative costs of all these separate programs, and doctors should not be paid more for treating some people than others.

    From two different countries, many people whose incomes are under $100,000 have told me that their income taxes are 18 to 19%. That is their total tax and it includes health insurance as well as many other benefits that we don't have. Their infant mortality rates are lower and their longevity is longer. They assure me that all the Republican scare stories are completely untrue.

    Please, Dr. Gupta, support President Obama fully. Optional goods and services are handled well by capitalism. But the welfare of our citizens should never be decided by people who can profit by denying them health care. We need the Public Option, and it needs to be a good one.

    July 23, 2009 at 18:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Julia Devrell

    Just to put in my 2 cents: Health care reform is desperately needed. I'm extremely concerned that it finally gets accomplished after languishing for almost a century. A single payer system would seem the best for us citizens, but otherwise, the public option will have to do. We really need coverage to be tied to the individual, not the job. For many of us, even if we have medical coverage now, we're afraid that if we get seriously ill, we'll lose our jobs, not have the money to pay COBRA, and the uncovered expenses, and we'll end up losing our homes and all we've worked for. Health care should be more important than funding a war or anything else in this country. We need a health care system that's for the people, not for making profits for corporations.
    Thanks for all that you do, we greatly appreciate it!

    July 23, 2009 at 18:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Sheldon Pelly

    AMERICAN FRIENDS: Post your medical bills here for us Canadians to see. I would do the same from here, but medical bills don't exist here. I have NEVER been billed for any medical treatment....whether in my doctor's office or in a hospital setting. So last year i went to a Blood Pressure Clinic (Hypertension clinic) at Mt. Sinai hospital for diagnosis and treatment. I visited my family doctor three times. I had my eyes examined. My daughter saw her doctor several times last year. The cost in 2008 for both of us was...........you guessed it........$0.00. This is the same cost my mother paid for her lumpectomy........$0.00. This is the same cost my neighbour paid for surgery to repair his shattered leg bones after an accident..including titanium rods, 3 months in hospital, physiotherapy and weekly home nurse assistance during recovery. Again the cost........$0.00. It's always easy to budget for medical care here. What do my American friends get for $0.00? NADA ZILCH ZERO NOTHING and certainly no medical care. WAKE UP AMERICA!

    July 23, 2009 at 18:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Danielle

    Lynn Littau,

    It breaks my heart to hear people with serious health concerns victimized by all this groundless fear mongering. People all over the world speak English. Please seek out those who live under Universal Health Care and ask them to tell you the real story of how it works. I did and I am now so ashamed that I ever allowed myself to be called a Republican. It won't happen again.

    If President Obama's plan reflects the kind of care people in other countries are getting, you will not have to worry about the quality of care that you receive. In fact, your care may improve. Non-urgent cases can have a bit of a wait but cases that require immediate care are moved to the front of the line and get the treatment they need.

    Don't be intimidated by the Republican lies. The internet makes this a small world. Please check it out for yourself.

    July 23, 2009 at 19:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Monica

    I am 34 years old and disabled due to multiple sclerosis and many other heath problems and living on disability. I get medicare and medicaid I am grateful that I am able to get it even though I would give any thing to be healthy and not need it. I get very upset with Medicare on how some of the befefits thats are handled I am very prone to infection and I get spetic alot. When I do my doctor orders 6 weeks of IV antibiotics. I do get home health a nurse comes 3 times a day. But medicare will not cover IV therapy at home anymore for patients they used to. So when I need IV therapy I have to be admitted to a nursing home and stay for 6 weeks. Look at how much money is spent on a nursing home by medicare when I can get it at home handled by home health nurses. Not to mention it tears me up being 34 and having to stay at a nursing home. Medicare needs to reconsider how they are spending the money and keep the patient in mind.

    July 23, 2009 at 19:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Steve

    As many Canadians and I (an American who has lived in Canada) have said many times in this blog, the statements currently being made by American politicians and in a few political ads about how bad Canada's health insurance system is are overwhelmingly inaccurate.

    But, I'm afraid that the American people, as a whole, will never be told the truth.

    Why? Because the insurance system in Canada follows the single payer model, and that's not what President Obama is trying to establish in the US.

    If the proponents of health reform start showing ads stating that Canada's system isn't a bad , then the opposition will start shouting "See they do want to put everyone on a government plan!"

    A great tactic. They claim that Canada has a bad system and that Obama wants to bring Canadian healthcare to the US, knowing that Obama can't directly counter the claim because it would imply that he really does want to copy the Canadian system.

    July 23, 2009 at 19:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. CA Dover, NH

    I hope people reading this thread are taking in the realities of the medical system we have here, and not believing Republican hyperbole and the flat-out lies they perpetuate using scare tactics, misinformation, and monetary incentives from the insurance companies. The bottom line source of medical problems is not the doctors, or the hospitals, or the obese people sitting in the waiting room: these people are all just trying to work within a broken system that is designed FOR PROFIT. In other words, insurance companies , drug companies, and Wall Street investors looking to make money off American citizens are at the core of this issue. Putting non-profit health care at the core of any new universal system takes out the reason for the inflated prices: no insurance company looking for increased quarter profits for their shareholders, not to mention the investors getting rich off the deaths of the sick and ill.

    If you think you won't be affected because you have insurance, YOU'RE WRONG! You are already affected because that's the source of your costs being so high. I happen to have insurance through my employer, but I STILL can't afford all my medications or the deductibles to have surgical procedures my doctor is insisting I need to survive.

    July 23, 2009 at 20:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Frieda Thompson

    Dr.Gupta,
    I saw the segment on the discrimination of doctors. I wonder if that is what happen to my sister. She has been to 7 doctors and a specialist and they all say the same thing. She has heartburn, allergies,or its asthama and give her the same medicine repeatedly. She does not have insurance and is not able to work. She believe that what ills her can be help if giving the right care. She has been struggling with this for years.

    July 23, 2009 at 21:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Jinny

    I am a Canadian...I have health care, I go to a doctor of my choice, I receive regular checkups that include bloodwork, pap test, and a mammogram, I pay for this with through my taxes, and I believe in universal health care. I was disgusted the other evening watching Larry King and his guest Dick Cheny's daughter, who spoke about the Canadian health care system as if she was an authority. She did not provide accurate information.

    Why not ask the average Canadian citizen about their health care, I am not saying that it is perfect, but no one asks me for a credit card when I go to a hospital, I am not faced with the high costs of monthly premiums, and I won't face bankruptcy due to a catastrophic illness.

    The recent ad running on CNN depicts a "Canadian" who did not receive, what she deems to be adequate health care. We know nothing about her circumstances, her medical history, her prognosis/diagnosis. What I do know is that I had a friend struggle with cancer during the past year and he received all of the medical treatment that was required at no cost to him, and he received this medical attention in a timely fashion; he didn't have to wait for treatment.

    I think most Canadians even though we have issues with certain aspects of our medical system, as I said it is not perfect, would not trade places with any American when it comes to what is provided in this country. Please educate yourselves before you condemn what you don't understand, or don't wish to know about. Healthcare shouldn't be about someone lining their pockets!

    Thank goodness, I will not ever have to make a decision to either feed a member of my family or go for a medical procedure, or receive preventative healthcare.

    regards

    July 23, 2009 at 22:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Ann Velazco

    Dr. Gupta,

    HOW can I help the 14 year old young lady in the Haiti "slavery" video??

    Please tell me WHAT I can do to help her...the video was appalling.
    I could clearly feel her pain and helplessness.

    Thank you.

    Ann Velazo
    CT

    July 23, 2009 at 22:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. phili

    I 'll ake any kind of health care reform as long as we have it on the table. Don't tell me it is going to take another 30 years again. From then I will be gone. I am a hard working person and I have health insurance but when I have to fill my prescription my insurance does not pay for brand name medication. Why am I paying insurance such a high cost then I still have to pay for my prescription. The democrats better do something otherwise I will not vote for those people. They forgot we the people send them to washington to do our work not for the status quo.

    July 23, 2009 at 23:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. ordinarilynonpolitician

    Government run insurance cuts costs. It cuts reimbursement as much as legislature determines, not the market. Many physicians currently do not accept medicare because it's the worst reimbursement in healthcare.

    Medicare part D (national drug coverage for retirees), although great for folks with no previous coverage, has taken the place of retirement benefits for many of my patients. Why would an employer pay for coverage when the government gives it to you free? Many of these patients cannot afford their drugs or their house payment.

    We are already short on doctors and pharmacists, but what about when reimbursement is cut? NOBODY WILL GO TO SCHOOL 16 YEARS TO BE A SURGEON MAKING $50,000 per year!! There is no question that medicare is failing... WHY WOULD WE DO THIS TO EVERYONE??

    July 24, 2009 at 01:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. cathy sabolcik

    dr gupta,
    lots of ways to help poor americans on food stamps- put restrictions on what they can buy- following someone using food stamps at the grocery store is sickening to see potato chips, salty snack foods, cakes, cookies and pops. just restricting these things would help on the obesity – b/p control, diabetes, – make food stamps for fresh fruits and vegs only and it would help the farmers out.
    rate children as at risk and assign social workers to make sure the parents are feeding the right foods to the kids- and if they don't – if the kids don't get the weight under control – put them in foster care. its child abuse to raise greatly overweight children. start in all the schools.
    if someone smokes and has lung cancer – they should be comfort care only- its their choice after all to smoke knowing the risk.
    anyone overweight doesn't need back or knee surgery – they need wt control. refuse to do surgery such as this unless the weight is under control.
    prisoners should pay for their meds-
    alternative med should be available and paid by insurance if the person desires this type of medicine.
    people over 80 shouldn't be on hemodialysis – esp if they have other system failure.
    families shouldn't be allowed to direct medical care – continuing grandma on life support because they can't let go. we have kept pts for months in icu – because multi-system failure and families can't let go. shouldn't be up to them. lots of $ wasted – after 4 months of the best care the pt still dies. family ends up with lots of guilt – as a nurse of 25 years i have lots of ideas. one is people shouldn't be scared of death – the churches of the country need to start weekly -preparing people for what comes natural. we were not made to live forever.
    sincerely
    cathy sabolcik rn
    ps my daughter is going to uom 2010

    July 24, 2009 at 03:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Godfrey C Leggett

    Dr. Gupta: Four years ago, I had quadruple bypass surgery. I had an excellent surgeon and a fine competent nursing staff and recovered quickly with one small complication. About one month post op. I had fluid build up in my peri-cardial sac requiring another hospital visit to drain the fluid. Since then I have been in excellent condition and feel great. I guess you can say that my insurance is also excellent, I never had to pay anybody a single dime for either of my hospital visits, never had to call anybody to resolve a problem, never got a full bill, indeed received very few bills or invoices. I did get a invoice from my surgeon for $6500 marked 'awaiting insurance resolution'. The insurance company finally paid the guy only $3600. I would have gladly paid the guy $10,000 out of my pocket, he saved my life and, he did an excellent job. I am pleased but, I would also like to know what my operations actually cost? I inquired as to how I could get a copy of my medical records and was told it would cost me over $350 to get copies of both hospital visits. I listen to all those bloviating republicans railing against health care reform and say to my self, why can't everyone get the kind of care that I got? I understand that a poor person could not afford my insurance bill but, that is not fair in my mind. They talk about the reforms putting a bureaucrat (sp?) between you and your doctor. I hate to tell them but there are already a bunch of folks between you and your doctor, they work for the insurance company. More in my next email.........

    July 24, 2009 at 07:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Godfrey C Leggett

    Continued from my previous post: I believe that most of the cost (excess cost) in our health care system comes from too many lawsuits. I live in Beaumont, Texas which, until recently, was one of three lawsuit capitals of the U.S (it seems that lately some rules were modified on 'change of venue' , making it more difficult to shop for a sympathetic jury. We are currently experiancing a 'lawyer depression' in town). It seems the juries in this area give out the most generous awards (they might not like me on the jury). I do not think that if you have a hangnail removed and then your finger gets infected and swells up you should be able to sue and receive enough money to live for the next fifteen years. Lots of people look at any medical complication as an oppurtunity to get an attourney and join in on the medical lottery, come and get your million dollar settlement. This constant threat of lawsuit drives extra costs into everything. It does not necessarily improve any service or product. It just forces the providers of the medical products and services to immunize themselves with lawyers on call and higher prices. Two examples, in the back of every databook on semiconductor devices is printed a disclaimer that 'if any of the circuits in this databook are to be used in any medical equipment', before the component can be sold for that purpose, an officer of the corporation must be notified. Presumably the device requested will be hand selected and run through extra testing for quality and, the price will be about 10 times more than the everday price (collecting up front to save the money for the possible legal fees). Does this really get a better safer device to your heart lung machine, probably not. Example number two, that little sealed plastic bag with the I.V. loop components that they use when they hang an I.V. bag and drip stuff into your veins, do you know what that costs? I think the average price is about $50-75. ?For a few feet of plastic tubing that you could buy at an aquarium store for just a couple of bucks? Oh but it is in a guaranteed sterile bag and made to stringint specs. Really, are they really sterile? Who exactly tests them routinely? The same folks who check our tomatoes and our peanut butter for salmonella and e-coli, I wonder. You guys should obtain several actual hospital bills and go line by line scrutinizing each item and what it costs. Compare that cost to a similar non-medical device and ask yourself why the items cost soo much. I would be happy to sign off for you to acess my medical bills if you wish, just send me an email.

    July 24, 2009 at 08:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Godfrey C Leggett

    Okay, I just had to leave a third comment. I just read the post by W Wallace Watson MD.,CM., FACS, FRCS That told the truth about the lady from Canada that had 'the brain tumor that would have killed her in a few weeks'. This is so wrong that her false trumped up story is out there to kill universal health care. Dr. Gupta, don't you feel obligated to investigate this story and put the truth out on the air to offset this erroneous story. Thank you for your attention...

    July 24, 2009 at 09:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Stephen Whitfield, MD

    Dr. Gupta,
    I have been listening to the debates on healthcare reform and I am concerned about the arguement that overuse of services is driven by physicians and their greed. While there certainly may be a few bad apples out there, I do not believe that the vast majority of physicians would subject their patient to unnecessary procedures purely for financial benefit. It would simply be unethical. Most physicians are truly concerned about their patient's welfare and are not just in it "for the money."

    One factor that is important to understand is that physicians are typically restricted from owning equipment or labs where tests would be done in order to protect the income of the community hospital. For example, if I order an MRI, I don't make anything on that... I don't own the MRI. In fact, in my state, I couldn't buy an MRI if I wanted to. Individual physicians are restricted from owning equipment that could take income away from hospitals. If a primary physician orders blood tests or a stress test, he doesn't make money on that. The patient is sent to another facility or specialist and therefore, automatically, treatment decisions and financial incentives are by-and-large separated. It is only in very limited cases that physicians have ownership stakes in treatment facilities or equipment.

    That said, potentially excessive testing can occur just to protect the doctor from unfounded legal action. Although an exam might be completely adequate to diagnose a condition, an MRI might be ordered just to rule out something completely rare and unlikely. In the past, this would not have been necessary but now, because we have this technology and patients can sue on a whim without any cost to them or basis for their suit, doctors will order the extra, and expensive, test just to protect them legally. This is a waste of services and often an unnecessary cost to the patient and their insurance company. Until we also talk honestly about tort reform, there will always be this waste of services.

    The postion of physicians is highly underrepresented in this healthcare debate. I would appreciate it if you would bring the input and opinions of currently active primary care and specialist physicians into this debate via your show on CNN. I feel that we are not being heard and ironically, we are the ones with the most first hand knowledge of how to help the system and our patients.

    Thank you.
    Stephen Whitfield, MD

    July 24, 2009 at 09:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Sheldon Pelly

    It always raises my eyebrows when I hear U.S. Congress members talk with doom gloom and fear about the coming of socialized medicine to your country. Hey "Blue Dogs" and Republicans......you don't seem to complain about the socialized medicine you receive as part of your job....how's that going for you as 47 million of your constituents have no health insurance.....socialized or not? Any complaints?

    July 24, 2009 at 11:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Sheldon Pelly

    AMERICAN FRIENDS: If you really want to know how Canadians feel about their healthcare system ask a Canadian citizen what would happen if the government here decided to get rid of our current system. Canadians are usually a compliant nation but I know there would be protests in the street if that happened. Don't be "bamboozled" as Barack Obama has said. Support healthcare reform for your own sake.

    July 24, 2009 at 11:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Danielle

    Dr. Stephen Whitfield,

    You sound like an ethical person and a physician who genuinely tries to provide good patient care. I agree that you and other medical professionals like you should be involved in the debate.

    Please consider the issue of tort reform from the position of the medical profession's ability to minimize lawsuits by monitoring and controlling the causes of those suits from within. Unfortunately, there are more than a few bad apples in the medical field these days. Most families have at least one horror story to tell even though only a small percentage of them have filed lawsuits.

    People understand that physicians are human beings who can make mistakes just like the rest of us. Because the stakes are so high, we hope you try harder than most of us not to make mistakes, but it happens. That is a legitimate reason for insurance and the public would not oppose reasonable limits on such settlements. Those are not the cases that have caused your insurance premiums to skyrocket.

    It is not so easy to understand harm caused by willful negligence or sadistic abuse. I believe the failure of the medical profession to rid itself of that kind of people is the primary cause of the high insurance premiums. Even after repeated lawsuits that leave no doubt about their character, unethical people continue to practice, apparently without opposition from their more responsible peers. Boards of Medical Examiners end up looking like good-ole-boys clubs.

    If good medical practitioners had the courage to unite and oust those who do not measure up to the standards of the profession, I think the only serious problem you would be left with in the area of insurance would be the greed of the companies providing it. You do not perform an optional service. Your service is necessary to the welfare of our citizens and, by extension, our government. It seems to me that that makes regulation of the greed part of your premiums legitimately subject to government regulation.

    July 24, 2009 at 12:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Mike L.

    Dr. Gupta,

    Why isn't personal responsibility at the core of the health care debate? Americans choose to eat poorly, and don't exercise enough, and then complain about rising healthcare.

    Without strong financial incentives to stop these lazy habits the costs will continue to soar.

    July 24, 2009 at 15:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Thomas

    As long as we have a pay-per-procedure medical system, we won't have any kind of meaningful reform.

    July 24, 2009 at 16:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Jane Boucher

    these folks who talk abt lazy habits, do they not believe children get cancer and young adults, and skinny people who do eat healthy., OR Accidents and broken bones, as for folks losing their jobs and getting another with health ins. get real, companies are doing away with health coverages,THEY can't afford to pay their part, and sometimes these premiums are so high folks can't afford it anyway. I would like to ask one QUESTION.

    How are we gonna pay for our current system 5 yrs from now. with 14,000 losing health ins. almost every day. We pay for all the uninsured as it is now. I bet few have the answer to this one, they'd better come up with one. Jane

    July 24, 2009 at 18:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Biketwit

    I would like to hear more about work/life balance and health care reform. How can workers get a few more days off...more maternity leave? Why can't more workers telecommute more often? While work/life is out of balance we will have no "reform."

    July 24, 2009 at 19:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Lois Wise

    Why cannot all Americans receive excellant Healthcare of Congress members since only 1 premium would cut its expense?

    July 25, 2009 at 08:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. doubleasven

    Will the Public Inurance Option a realty or just an empty threat.

    I have a queasy feeling that the President's commitment on the Public Option is wavering. Heard Whip Clyburn say that there is a sentiment among some Dems to let the Public Option PO be a Sword of Damocles. over the heads of Insurance Industry. That we give them a chance to comply. If they don't, it will trigger a Public Option. This is a nebulous and blatantly stupid idea to imagine that the market place will turn based on a threat. It will require a real Public Insurance operation – with reduced operating overhead and leverage like Medicare – in order to realize the relief the President has been promising. As it is, the Plan has to be operational ASAP and the project should begin rolling as soon as a bill is passed in House/Senate. Summarizing, the proponents of the trigger idea is either a fool or is on the take from Health Care Business Lobbies. Members of congress peddling such a canard, will be punished badly by the electorate. I hope I am wrong and somebody was just pulling Whip Clyburn's leg.

    Mr President if any such move is afoot, you must put your foot down and nip in the bud, such a nefarious idea

    July 25, 2009 at 10:52 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.