Monday, August 17, 2009

Healthcare Debate

I have been listening to the healthcare debate for some time, and it seems a bit ridiculous on all sides. Some not-so random thoughts on the subject . . . .

New Legislation will Cover All. The media has said there are 46 million uninsured Americans. One thing that the media fails to ask is, "Yeah, but do these 45 Million want to have insurance?" After college, there was a time where I did not have health insurance. I could have had it, but I chose not to have it. I was young, healthy and I had no assets to protect. Why exactly would I need health insurance? And I am sure many Americans are thinking the same thing. Sure, there are some people who don't have health insurance because they can't afford it, but most have looked about how they spend their money and have decided to do other things with their money. Health insurance was not that important to them.

Sure, society as a whole pays for this. And sure, if healthcare was truly free, this would be great. But we are just shifting costs.

New Legislation will Reduce Healthcare Costs. I don't think it is the government's job to reduce healthcare costs (and the Dems are talking about efficiencies and cost reductions). I mean, as long as the government is concerned with the costs of products for me, why not work on reducing costs of my iPod, computer, car, and so forth. And someone may say that the government already manipulates food prices (we pay farmers not to grow certain crops), gas and oil prices (the government's strategic oil reserve impacts prices; so do our foreign relations), and now prices for automobiles (cash for clunkers will pull automobiles out of the market, and also increase demand which should make prices go up).

New Legislation will Make Healthcare More Efficient. See above. I am not sure it is the government's business to make any industry more efficient. The government did not enact child labor laws because the twelve-year-old factory workers were inefficient; they did so to protect children. And I am not sure I want some government bureaucrat tell hospitals how to be efficient. Think about it: the government is telling us that they can make something more efficient. When you think of government, is the word "efficiently" the first thing you think? Probably not.

New Legislation contains Death Panels. This is one of the coolest aspect of the new legislature. The phrase "Death Camps" sounds efficient, spooky and something that would lend itself to reality television. I can see this now: in order to underwrite the new healthcare legislation, the government will allow one station to televise these death panel reviews. The only problem is that these words aren't even in the legislation. I mean, we don't think these words are in the legislation – most legislators have not read it, and neither has anyone else. Someone can read Harry Potter in two days, no problem, but cannot real legislation that will have a trillion dollar difference to our government budget.

Even if I think we should reform healthcare now and have the government involved, I am not at all confident that our elected officials are smart enough to do this rationally.


LarryLilly said...

Welcome back.

I missed your blogs

As far as health care goes, yes, we need it, but after that, it gets "fuzzy".

I would like to start out smallish, lets say, catastrophic coverage. If your sick, you go to whatever, doc in a box, whatever, its your dime. And that includes ER visits for NON-LIFE threatening things. Junior doesnt need to go to an ER for ear infection. BUT

If you have a heart attack, its covered. If you have cancer, its covered, since those things can break family's and cause bankruptcy. That costs ALL of society.

Money left over, then move it down a notch.

Anonymous said...

I agree, I think health care is never going to be a perfect fit for everyone but as long as it attempts to give everyone a fair and equal access and we have the right to say no and purchase our own plan, or no plan at all, I think there would be a variety of options to at least appease some people?

I am very concerned about these people saying "The Government Health Care Plan Will Kill Old People Off!!" kind of things...I feel like it's China and propaganda and it makes me grossed out and embarassed that I belong to a country of people that believe this kind of...crap?

I don't know, I kind of have tuned this stuff I'm just as big an asshole as the rest of them!

Leesa said...

larry: your solution seems reasonable at first blush, but it is a very expensive solution because the government is on the hook for all catastrophic care then.

brown eyed girl: fair and equal access and purchase one's own healthcare are mutually exclusive.

Anonymous said...

I wasn't ready for a second post. I had a comment I thought about all weekend on the last one. But ...

I don't trust the government with ANY health care. Look, if you can't fix Social Security ( NEVER meant to be long term ) and Medicare is such a fried mess, WHY OH WHY on God's green earth would you want me give you the ok to do ANY kind of health care?

Anonymous said...

So nice to see you again, lovely Leesa. About healthcare in the US. All I know is we make sure we are insured to the hilt when we go traveling in the US because we get terrified of getting sick or being in an accident on your side of the border. But, you raise some good issues in this blog.

Malach the Merciless said...

Got Universal Health Care in the MA. . . works wonderfully

richmanwisco said...

To your comments on reducing costs and making healthcare more efficient, government would not directly force those actions. It would be through the pressure of competition that would force health insurance companies to change the way they do business.

It's funny how we've had socialized healthcare in this country for at least two generations, yet we never made the push to expand them. We have Medicare (single payer), and the Veterans Administration (nationalized single provider). And for as hard as the G.W. Bush administration tried to kill VA (underfunding by $2 billion per year all 8 years), it still works at the basic level.

LarryLilly said...

My second take.

The current system does not work. Period, end of story and based on first hand knowledge. When I was self employed (read die hard republican Reagan supporter) making good money, but self insured, my wife came down with weird symptoms. Insurance plans didnt want to touch me or my three kids, they dont sell ala carte. I pleaded since she didnt work, I was sole bread winner, protect me and the kids. I could have divorced her I guess, but without doing that, no dice. Its all or nothing, and since she was not coverable, it was nothing. I wound up dropping my career and working for the State. Lousy pay but good health benies. So underlying plank for republican health plans are that healthy people get their own, and sick people dont. Easy, huh?

So, yeah, covering catastrophic means some money out, but you keep people employed, paying taxes. Current system and you file bankruptcy, which I did between being a self employed republican and a wage earner democratic, and I got rid of my past medical bills that way. Now, which plan works better?

I am currently a working fed, so it really doesnt matter to me, but I still find it a travesity for the lack of coverage we have. The money spent on lobbying against the plan is enough to cover a basic one. And even if that means you tax all health plans to those that have them to pay for those that dont, I see that as still better. Myself being included in the tax pay plan. Its no fun being in a posiution of asking how much for this treatment, or that med cost. Benn there, done that.

My first wife, she died from her illness after all.

Gary Baker said...

Socialized medicine.

Canada's health care minister admits their system is about to implode.

Britain - People dying of treatable illnesses waiting for diagnosis. Heard a interview from a former British Anesthesiologist. He moved over here because trash collectors in Britain make more. You can imagine the quality of people going to med school now.

Massachusetts - Going broke, despite what Malachi says.

California - In a deep hole and still digging.

Brown Eyed Girl - No, they will not kill off the old people, but 5% percent of the population uses 50% of the health care resources. That 5% is the old and disabled. When the resources reach their limit and someone has to be cut, who do you think gets the axe?

richmanwisco - Government action and competition are mutually exclusive terms. Right now there are over 1200 insurance agencies for med insurance in the US. You can only buy from a fraction of them because each state mandates coverage minimums, some for things like hair transplants. This also goes to LarryLilly's comment about "they don't sell ala carte." In most cases, the government won't let them. Each requirement raises the cost and cuts competition.

Also, my dad was a Veteran and had dealings with the VA. I was active duty. The idea that they work at the "basic level" is highly debatable. It is also irrelevant to the current debate. What Obama and the Dems are pushing for is far beyond the basic level. This is analogous to saying that not only are the poor entitled to food stamps, but they are entitled to three 5-star meals a day and should be housed in luxury mansions.

As stated above, the government does not run Medicare or Social Security efficiently. Both of them will go broke. The Post Office is going broke. They can't even run a car program. The number of people who believe that they can efficiently administer something as huge and complex as health care is astonishing to me.

Peter B said...

In the past I have lived and worked in the USA. I choose not to. It has never been a compasionate country, and now the true colours of all are showing at a time when something could be done. In America the one thing you can be sure of is that greed and self interest will always win.

This is just my opinion as I have removed myself from any right to debate this issue, but it certainly reinforces the opinions held abroad that most in the USA are only concerned for themselves, and the rest do not matter.

As for the amount of money that has been wasted on useless toys for the military, you could pay for better health and internal infrastructure many times over.

God said "thou shalt not kill" and I didnt see any wriggle except here and here.....and here in thw words reported, and yet the USA spends a fortune specifically to break this commandment wholesale.

Pay for health care not weapons and you might regain respect, for there is precious little left at the moment.