Promising to go down in history books, the President spoke to Congress last month about his thoughts on implementing healthcare reform. Here are some thoughts on the topic.What is it? How will it affect me?Very good questions without any concrete answers yet. Yes, there is yelling on both sides but does that help us in our decision-making process? Absolutely not! There is a lot of talk about “nationalized” healthcare, socialism, death panels and waits for procedures. Are they scare tactics? Maybe but we should take a very careful look at what comes out of Washington.To get an idea of a nationalized healthcare system we could take a look at Canada and Great Britain, there are some issues that we should be aware of. There are 6-month waits for MRIs in those countries. Do you want to wait that long? A close friend recently had an MRI and was mildly upset at having to wait two hours. Do you know there are more MRI machines in Los Angeles County than in all of Canada? The same holds true for many procedures such as kidney, liver and circulation procedures. Does a long wait increase your chances of survival? You will have to make that decision yourself.The other side of the story is that not everyone is covered in the United States. Canada and Great Britain cover all of their residents and that can be conceived as a plus. Depending on who you listen to, there are between 11 and 50 million uninsured people in the United States. Who are these people? It’s a mix of unemployed, those who voluntarily go without coverage, people in the country illegally, and people who have pre-existing conditions.The Government’s proposal would be similar to the care our military servicemen and their families receive. According to a colleague who has experience with this system, “When I gave birth to my son in the San Diego naval facility, I lay in wait for a room…in a gurney, in the hall, with twenty other women – all of us in various stages of giving birth,” said Deanne Hollis-DeGrandpre. “Additionally, I was not able to receive an epidural to block the pain because it was unavailable.” Do we want to wait like cattle to receive health care? Additionally, Medicare and Social Security are on the road to bankruptcy, is this what we want for our healthcare system?No doubt, the current system has flaws. There are a few things that could be done to help solve the issues as alternatives to the current healthcare reform being proposed by Congress. By no means is this a panacea but it is at least a start.How about considering the following:oThose who voluntarily refuse to be covered, (mostly the young) should be held responsible for their medical care. No free ride.oCitizens here illegally, should not receive free care, since they do not pay into the Federal or State tax system. Emergencies should be taken care of but any expensive procedures should be done in their home country.oTort reform! Physicians and all providers are scared to death to make a mistake. Many OB/GYNs are no longer practicing due to the high costs of liability insurance. The patient ultimately pays the price for this in higher insurance premiums. We have to have SOME limits!oA pool of insurers could be set up for those who don’t qualify for insurance due to pre-existing conditions. All insurance companies should share the risk for these citizens and hold down premiums to an acceptable level.oFor the unemployed, one possible solutions is to add a benefit to unemployment compensation with an end date.oIncreased regulations for health insurance companies and access across state lines, so people have more choice.Again, these are just suggestions. Until we see what Congress will finally propose, we will have to wait.