Saturday, October 11, 2008

It's Healthcare, Stupid

(This is a reprint and expansion of an entry from another forum. Just in case you feel ripped off, here's a recent sketch of Iron Fist to go with it.)

Regarding healthcare. I don't believe in universal, government-run general medical insurance (or government-run ANYTHING). Don't agree with me, ask a Canadian family with double our tax rate and a three-week wait to see a doctor.

The reason we buy insurance is that our medical expenses may exceed our premiums - in essence, a gamble. If somehow we manage to get through the year without needing major medical care or surgery, in essence we've "lost" because we paid more into premiums than we really needed to pay for doctors and meds. And for the most part that's true.

It wasn't that long ago that insurance was a rarity and deductibles were huge - it was set aside for the big stuff, not the trip to the local doctor for the sniffles. Insurance became more prevalent and eventually became the main way doctors got paid - so, doctors began to bill based on what a huge corporation could pay, tacking on extra tests "just to be sure", rather than what the local person could pay. Insurance needs to be higher that actual claims to pay its administrative costs (and huge corporate salaries). As both got richer they became the targets of lawsuits - thus malpractice insurance, which made it easier to sue, which drove up costs, etc etc.

In trying to level out medical expenses, we've created an even more expensive middle man.

So, in many ways, the health insurance industry, which was supposed to be a help, became its own problem. And you can't go back, because once you give a person something it's VERY hard to take it back.

No president can fix this - or rather, no president can promise anything other than band-aids and expect to get elected.

The root of the problem is a mentality that we are entitled to health insurance - we are NOT. However, it does seem that we should be entitled to some level of health CARE, and it seems that protection from sudden spikes in our personal health care costs (ie birth of a child, surgery, chemo, etc) can be provided for in the form of high-end insurance, at pennies on the dollar from what it costs now. This would result in the reduction of a massive infrastructure of health insurance administration, and reduce medical costs based on demand, not what a health insurer will pay. The government would continue to protect the elderly and disabled through Medicare, because that is the right thing to do, and offer this high-end protection to the rest of us (insurers would quickly follow suit). To encourage employers to stay involved, businesses would be offered double tax deduction on their employee's health insurance costs. Low-income families with children (based on regional poverty levels) would be eligible for some basic insurance as well, to ensure that Johnny gets to the doctor with the sniffles before it becomes pneumonia.

Incidently - providing universal healthcare for all of America, $150 billion. Compared with the $850 billion Wall Street bailout, one might wonder if we spent our money wisely.

I am strongly considering one VP candidate at the moment, in case anyone is interested.

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