There's quite a bit wrong with the nation's health care these days.
Just ask some of the people who took part in a panel discussion Wednesday at Lycoming College.
Solutions offered varied from introducing a single-payer system to having more health care providers, such as nurse practitioners and family physicians.
After a public discussion, panelists at Lycoming College took individual questions. Here, Sharon Walter, of Williamsport, left, and her husband, Dr. Richard Walter, right, speak with panelist Alice Brody, a consumer advocate and outreach director for Single Payer New York.
Steven P. Johnson
CEO of Susquehanna Health
"Health Care Crisis in America: An Open Conversation" included comments from a physician, a political aide, a consumer advocate and a hospital administrator.
In his opening remarks prior to the panel discussion, Susquehanna Health President and CEO Steven P. Johnson, set the tone by noting how times are changing in health care in light of pressing needs for Medicare and Medicaid by growing numbers of aging baby boomers.
Tonya Anderson, chief aide to state Rep. Rick Mirabito, D-Williamsport, noted the 50 million uninsured Americans, resulting in increasing medical costs for individuals and businesses.
Alice Brody, a consumer advocate and outreach director for Single Payer New York, said the U.S. is the only industrialized nation without comprehensive health care coverage. She said she supports a single-payer system modeled after Medicare.
Anderson said peoples' health care costs have become so great they must decide whether to go without medical care or other needs such as groceries or paying the mortgage.
Gary Colberg, a Lycoming College alumnus and CEO of Southeast Georgia Health System, said medical costs are high in the U.S. because people expect the best care.
He said some costs are driven up by the high use of emergency rooms by people who are without a primary care provider.
He called for more primary care physicians and nurse practitioners.
Brody said preventative medicine too often is ignored.
The U.S., she said is the only country with a health care system that puts profits first.
"Health care is about healing," she said.
Colberg said, however, that it is important to make the distinction between insurers, which are certainly for profit, and health care providers.
Alison Hirsch, of Pa. Health Access Network, said the state's Blues insurers have billions of dollars in reserve funds, yet refuse to provide coverage to many of Pennsylvania's uninsured.
And, she said, one Blues company even gave out bonuses to employees.
Dr. Donald Hess, instructor of medical ethics at The Commonwealth Medical College and a retired physician, said health care can be chaotic with patients seen by too many providers often resulting in duplication of services.
A lot of money is spent in health care, but the outcomes are often bad, he added.
Hirsch said the paperwork itself drives up costs.
She accused insurance companies of wrongly blaming the federal health care reform measure for their continued higher customer rates.
What's happening, she said, is insurers are making sure to drive up rates now before reforms kick in in a few years.
Making the problem worse is a state with very lax oversight on insurance regulations.
Too often, insurers do everything they can to keep from paying health care costs of their customers, she said.