Stream of Controversy
You might not want to hear it, but it really needs to be said.

My Take on Health Care Reform

I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted something on here, but it’s not because I don’t have anything to say. It’s more of a “What will be the first post after a hiatus?” problem that I often have. But I’ve figured that this is an important enough post to fit that bill, without being overly controversial.

So, there’s been a lot of discussion lately about health care reform and all the different ways it might happen, as well as all different bad things it might do to your grandma, but I’m not going to talk about those things. Not directly, anyway.

What I am going to talk about, specifically, is my understanding of what a “public option” is (or should be) and why I support it. But I’m not going to just say that I support it and leave it at that. I’m going to provide you with some information as to why you should support it, too. There may be some data that is not quite right, because I’m not an expert, but the general point I’m trying to make should be the take-away message. (If I make a mistake, by all means correct me, but don’t go ranting about death panels and Nazis, please.)

First, let me start by describing the current health care situation, overall, in the United States. Basically, whoever has health insurance (either because they bought it outright, or because their employer provides it for them) has access to medical attention. That means they have access to specialists in whatever area their problem may be: if you have a brain tumor, you go to a brain surgeon; if you have a bunion, you go to a podiatrist; if you have bipolar disorder, you go to a psychiatrist. Based on what insurance you have, you may be limited to a specific list of doctors that your insurance covers. That’s fine. That’s part of the market. But, the bottom line is, you have that list.

People without health insurance, and without a high income or savings, do not have a list. They can’t go to a specialist in the area they need help with. So they have two choices: go to the emergency room or a clinic, where they mostly only have doctors who practice general or emergency medicine, and where you are served on a first-come, first-served basis (i.e. you wait for a really long time on really long lines); or, do nothing and live with whatever pain there may be.

This is not a good way to live. In fact, it is quite counterproductive and detrimental to society. If you have people with chronic pain that they can’t pay to get rid of, their workload will be lower. If their workload is lower, they can’t contribute as much to economy, because they don’t get paid enough to afford expensive things like houses or new cars. So they live at poverty or near-poverty levels, where other, more well-off taxpayers have to pay for many of the services that support them; besides the emergency room care, there’s welfare and increased crime rates, too.

The idea behind the public option for health care reform is to correct this problem, to fill the gap between those who can afford health care—and, thus, get it—and those can’t—and, thus, don’t. That is what the public option is all about. It provides free or competitively subsidized health care for those who would not otherwise be able to afford it. Here’s the thing, though: There’s no promise it’s gonna be great health care. In all likelihood, it won’t be that good at all. But not good a whole lot better than none. But it doesn’t just help the people that need health care and can’t afford it.

Oh, no. It helps the more-well-off taxpayers, too. Sure, your taxes may go up a bit to pay for the new health care system, depending on how they decide to pay for it. But you’ll get other benefits that will out-weigh that tax increase in the long run. More people will be healthier, because they won’t wait and suffer until the pain just gets so unbearable that they have no choice but to seek expensive health care that they can’t afford. Healthier people means healthier workers, which means more workers, which means better economy, which means better country. It also means that you, as the privileged person with health insurance, will get all the perks of having that upper status. You may get an air-conditioned room in a hospital, versus one without air conditioning for the person with the public option; you may get a private bathroom, versus the communal one in the hallway where you have to walk with your butt hanging out for all to see; you may get a better expert in the area of what ails you, versus one who’s less of an expert (but an expert nonetheless).

And don’t think that I’m just making this up off the top of my head, because I’m not. This is what actually happens in countries that have socialized medicine, including two great friends of the United States: Canada and the United Kingdom. How do I know this? By reading first-hand accounts from Mike Hoye and Sarah Lyall, respectively.

Which is why I think a public option is a good idea. The United States needs to get with the times and provide health care to all of its citizens. Else, what does that say about the heart of the country? That it doesn’t care about the health of the people that call it home, that help it survive? Come on, now. I know you’re not saying that. Get with it and support the public option, even if you already have health insurance. I promise, the perks for you will only get better.

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3 Responses to “My Take on Health Care Reform”

  1. I think you have it backwards on a lot of things here. First, they overwhelming majority (90+%) of Americans have health care from the private sector. CBO numbers say that only 2-3% of the public are citizins that cannot afford health care. The other 8% are either in the country illegally or opting out because of lack of signing up for medicare or just plain saving the money. The productivity argument is flawed because of the small parentage increase in a small percentage of the total public. Even if that 2-3% is 50% more productive, it really doesn’t amount to anything. No one is truly limited in their choices. Last time I checked, I could still pay a doctor cash to see who I wanted. Further, non payment of medical debt cannot end you in jail or wage garnishment. So just go and don’t pay – just like in the ER (which is a triage, not first come first serve). The public option gives employers no incentive to provide what you admit is a better quality of care – it is just going to cost less to let people go to the public option. Besides – we have medicare and medicade to address those who can’t afford it. Why not tweak those systems instead of risking the entire thing? I still don’t see how everyone benefits, but I do see how it will cost us all. The current spending is over $8,000 per person in health care. The administration wants to cut that to $4000 (can we say ‘less coverage’). That means that a family of four will have to cough up about $12000 extra to cover the cost of this program. The few that are well off cannot offset the huge increase in spending there. As far as Canada and the UK, their systems are broke, their taxes are FAR higher (up to 70% of income) and the people are still highly unhappy with their health care. There is a reason why thousands of people flock to see our doctors, from the Saudi royal family to regular Canadians crossing to see a doctor – our system is not perfect, but it is the best answer so far.

    http://cwaterhouse.wordpress.com/

  2. First let me say that on this issue, I agree with you, and I’m not taking a democrat or republican side on the matter. I’ve been on the “spice of life” side of things and now, for a season, I’m not there for a while. So, I have a point of view from the upper middle class and from the “upper/lower or middle/lower” class; however one chooses to term it.

    The key point I’ve flushed out is “accessibility”.
    1) Accessibility to health-care
    2) Accessibility to insurance
    3) Accessibility to complaining that nets a tangible difference

    If the government does not get involved at a very low level, “a low level involvement touches people where they live”, then people will simply do without. Big business does not want this, why? For starters, because of all the very successful self-funded insurance that companies have will be worthless over night. That’s right, some companies insurance is self-funded and they don’t use an insurance company to do it. Case-n-point: If you have MedCost as your quasi provider, your company is self funded. Not that MedCost is bad, they’re just a service provider to your company. Here’s how it works; Company A provides insurance to it’s workers for $150 a week; $50 is paid by the employee and $100 is paid by the employer. The $150 from each worker goes into an insurance fund pool that earns a terrific interest rate that goes to the company. The company hires an outside firm to manage its employees healthcare debt for a negotiated fee. That fee is paid from the fund pool (the interest pays a lot of it). The outside firm, i.e. MedCost, then takes each case and negotiates with the doctors and hospitals what is owed for your care. They have staffed medical people that know what each procedure should use and about what it should cost then they apply an economic factor for your area of the country to come up with the “allowed portion to pay” and issue a check to the doctor or hospital. In the company I was previously with, we had good years and some not as good. The fund pool only lost money one year in the thirteen I was with them, because we took our eye off the ball and weren’t retiring workers fast enough and putting them on Social Security and Medicare (that’s right). The profit, where does it go? A portion goes to the fund, the rest to the executives (usually). Remember, the CPA’s are in charge of the money laundering, I mean handling, and they’re also in charge of the “self funded insurance fund pool”. Where would this money go if it went to the government, your guess is as good as mine, but we could have a watchdog group that monitors it, and maybe, just maybe some of it could go to pay the national debt? (I wish). At any rate, if the government gets into the health insurance business, eventually corporate funded insurance is out the door along with major bonus money for executives, and they’re not sitting still for it.

  3. All obama will do is outsource anyways. Just think about the all the lobbyists flocking to Washington DC because of obama’s reckless over-spending of $2 TRILLION in just 6 months, which alone is increasing the National Debt by 20%.

    Politicians take people’s money and reward the large corporations, in this case companies in the health care industry, since they have the money to more effectively lobby politicians. In the end smaller businesses will be hurt.

    Politicians will only reward companies that will be in their best political interest. Honestly, when can you really trust politicians since they are basically professional liars, and being president just means you are the best liar of the time. Why not just give the money directly from the people to the companies and take politicians in government out of the equation?

    obama is going to recklessly spend TRILLIONS of tax payers’ money just to give insurance to about 25% of those who do not have it. Over 50% of people’s income go towards taxes, just imagine how many more people will afford health care insurance if their income is almost doubled because of dramatic tax cuts.

    Competition is what is needed. It lowers prices of products and services, along with developing new innovations. All of which will benefit consumers. You need to remember that monopolistic tendencies can also apply to government.

    The reason why the cost of insurance is high is because politicians in government mandate insurance companies to increase their premiums to pay for ridiculous things. In addition, politicians put up regulations so that Americans are not allowed to get insurance from another state and use the coverage in their own state. This reduces competition making it more expensive for people to get insurance. On top of that medical professionals are not allowed to freely practice their profession in any US state without taking a long and tedious licensing process. This again increases the cost of medical insurance.

    In the end, the problem with most economic issues is too much government intervention of the economy by politicians, who will only tend to do things for political self interest. Just like how obama nationalized GM to pander to its unions. Politicians can barely run government, yet people think they can run a multi-national auto manufacturing company?

    The solution is SMALLER government, LESS spending, and LOWER taxes.


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