Health Care | Texas Public Radio

Health Care

When Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders stumps for health care for everyone, it always gets huge applause.

"I believe that the U.S. should do what every other major country on Earth is doing," he told a crowd at Eastern Michigan University on Feb. 15. "And that is, guarantee health care to all people as a right."

The Democratic presidential hopeful basically wants to nationalize the U.S. health insurance industry, and have Uncle Sam foot the bill for medical bills, office visits and prescriptions.

Get rid of copays. Get rid of deductibles. Get rid of lots of forms.

Steve Miller has some customers on offer. Millions of them in fact.

The chief medical officer at Express Scripts, the largest pharmacy benefit manager in the U.S., has been essentially auctioning off his 80 million customers to the drug companies that will give him the best deal.

"Who wants my market share?" Miller says. "Whoever will give me the best price, I will reward you with an enormous amount of market share."

Health care has emerged as one of the flash points in the Democratic presidential race.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has been a longtime supporter of a concept he calls "Medicare for All," a health system that falls under the heading of single- payer health care.

Nutritional supplements are a muli-billion dollar industry, with a single supplement - fish oil - raking in $1.3 billion a year. Half of the country takes supplements and study after study is coming out showing that the lax regulation of the industry means many aren't getting what they pay for.

A growing number of primary care doctors, spurred by frustration with insurance requirements, are bringing "health care for billionaires" to the masses, including people on Medicare and Medicaid, and state employees.

Graphic by Todd Wiseman

It might be a man on his laptop at a Saturday flea market, accepting cash to help people sign up for subsidized health coverage on Healthcare.gov.

It might be a sign directing callers to an 800 number where they can get help choosing an Affordable Care Act plan — for a fee.

Or it might be a cardboard poster attached to a telephone pole offering “Real insurance. Not Obamacare.” 

Republicans in Congress and on the campaign trail call for an Obamacare repeal all the time. Plans to replace it are rarer, though. Obamacare is a fantastically complicated policy, and overhauling the health care system would likewise be a complicated business, affecting not only government spending and the economy, but people's very lives on an intensely personal level.

Going to the Emergency Room in Texas and you should brace yourself for some surprises – even you have great insurance coverage. According to a new report Texans are Charged More Than 650% The Going Rate Of Medicare For ER  services. Jamie Dudensing is the CEO of the Texas Association of Health Plans.

Health experts and advocates from around the country gathered in San Antonio Tuesday to share ideas for improving health in the Latino community. 

The National Council of La Raza is a Hispanic civil rights group.  It chose San Antonio for its health summit because of the work the city has done to promote nutrition and physical activity for all its residents.

From Texas Standard:   

After a guest editorial was published in the Houston Chronicle warned of a potential meltdown in the state's healthcare safety net, Governor Greg Abbott sent an email from his personal account to a top adviser asking to "see the financials" of author Kenneth Janda's company, Community Health Choice, a non-profit health insurer.


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