Wednesday, September 27, 2006

 
Healthcare

This and immigration are probably the toughest political issues going right now. Maybe the war in Iraq should be in there, but I think immigration and healthcare overshadow the war. Maybe it's just me.

Okay, so what do we do? We want everyone insured. There's only one way to do it. You have to mandate the government "issue" insurance. You CAN'T make it voluntary with subsidized rates. If you think you CAN, I offer you this: do some research on how many citations are issued to drivers without automobile insurance every year. That's required by law and generally a lot cheaper than health insurance, but people don't carry that, either.

Okay, so you just mandate socialized medicine. Basically, you've just destroyed the worlds best healthcare system (with regard to quality and research) and saddled Americans with a HUGE financial burden.

Simply put, socialized medicine will not work.

So now what? Perhaps government insurance that ANYONE can get for a specific amount of money? Something like for $100 per person per month, you get a government subsidized health insurance. Now THAT sounds good, right?

Well, maybe. First, if you offered that, you'd have to make some hefty HMOish agreements. That means you'd have to ration care for lack of better words. Then you'd have to come up with either an independent agency to run the plan OR another government bureaucracy. Which one would you rather have? You're either going to pay big tax dollars to the government OR you're going to be living with a private company trying to shave every dollar out of the plan they can. Neither is particularly tasteful (to me).

But, hey, let's say you do it. You come up with a government mandated "cheap" insurance. Let's look at a timeline.

Who will be the first to get the plan? Easy, people without insurance through work OR people who can't get insurance because of a pre-existing condition. Ponder this group for a bit. They will be people with cancer, AIDs, and other chronic diseases that can't qualify for private insurance. They'll also be a large group of people with disabilities and/or people with excessive prescription costs. And, of course, you'll have elderly people snatching it up.

In other words, you'll have every person who will be at a financial advantage paying $100 a month instead of paying the medical costs out of their own pocket. There will be VERY FEW people who won't pay more than they receive. That equation does NOT work out. Basically, the tax payers will pick up everyone's medical bill.

That being the case, the government will be motivated to get "healthy" people on the plan. The only way to do that is to encourage businesses to stop carrying insurance to push their employees onto the government plan. After all, you can't have successful insurance UNLESS you have a positive cash flow. So, even though many of us have benefits of our choosing now, odds are our employers will drop health insurance like a hot can of Ebola virus once there is a government "alternative".

So, eventually, having an inexpensive government "alternative" healthcare will probably drive away commercial varieties. They would lose their bargaining power since businesses would be pushed into not offering private healthcare in order to prop up the government healthcare. You'd get a backdoor socialized medical system.

Now, the final phase? Complete breakdown, and here's why. Right now, my healthcare is fairly expensive for me and my family ($300+ month). Let's just say that government insurance costs $100/month. Oh, let's say it's $150/month for a family. I'm ASSUMING that it's going to be pretty decent coverage as most poor people can't afford much of ANY healthcare much less a plan with a $50 co-pay and a $5,000/year deductible. Well, if it's GREAT coverage, do you think I care if I get 30 prescriptions, 2 MRI's per month, and a weekly cardio check-up? Nope. Neither will anyone else. I figure we'll clog every hospital in America in hopes of finding SOMETHING wrong with us. Maybe we can get a cool prescription, or, better yet, and impairment rating for disability. Hey, it could happen.

Of course, at the same time, you'd be regulating doctors' pay, prescription costs, and other things. In other words, you'd stifle research and the attraction of the best minds to the business.

Another thing to remember, with the government running this and the individual having little or no say-so in the level of care they receive, what's the financial motivation for keeping the sick, old, and disabled alive? Simple. There isn't one.

Oh, and abortion now is paid for by everyone. And abortion SURE IS a great financial alternative to raising a baby, right?

Basically, what a government offered plan would do is destroy private insurance and remove the individual's ability to provide an improved or enhanced level of healthcare should the desire so. Well, it would limit the middle-class's ability to. Rich people can get what they like (REALLY rich people). It's people like me and my family who would have to sacrifice our level of healthcare.

Maybe that's the noble thing, you know? Maybe I should tell my family that they may or may NOT get the best level of care but they should find comfort in the fact that the guy who's hooked on crack and stole our television WILL be helped by the plan. No, I can no longer get cutting edge treatment for my heart blockage, but hey, the unemployed mother pregnant with her 7th kid will, most certainly, get the care she needs.

Somehow, as evil as it sounds, I'm not comforted by that. I think that the more you remove the motivation for people to succeed, the less effort they'll put into succeeding. This is just another thing that will remove motivation from the working people.

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