Wednesday, May 13, 2015

More on Health Insurance

I am not completely opposed to the idea of socialized medicine.

There are problems, of course.

One of the pros of socialized medicine is this:  healthcare would be run by the government, as a non-profit, which should control costs overall while making healthcare available to everyone.  This sounds fantastic.

One of the cons is that government run programs are never as efficient and competent as we would hope, and graft and corruption are always intertwined into everything.  So although it sounds fantastic, in reality, it would not be.

Of course, what we currently have is so bad (on the financial end), that even a corrupt government program might be better.  But then again, it might not.

The real kicker, that makes a switch to socialized medicine truly unworkable for the United States, is that over 5 million jobs would be lost when the health insurance industry suddenly became obsolete.

There is a part of me that says, "Good."  Because I have had awful experiences with health insurance companies and personnel.  I have very little good to say about them, and I honestly believe that many of them are just out to deny as many claims as possible, dishonestly and immorally.  Even so, to throw 5 million people into sudden unemployment for the sake of socialized medicine could not be good for our country's economy, regardless of whether they deserve it.

This is why I stand by my idea in my earlier post, that the government should provide a certain number of standard, basic, humane health services to all citizens (yes, this will require a tax increase), while health insurance, like car insurance and homeowners' insurance, should be available for purchase to cover calamities, catastrophes, and state-of-the-art treatments.

Nobody should be required by law to purchase health insurance.  In a free country, nobody should be required by law to purchase anything.  We pay taxes, yes, but you can't tell free citizens that they have to buy something.  I am speaking theoretically and according to principle, not according to reality because, of course, they have.

I wish someone could run United States healthcare in a way similar to the business model of Wegman's grocery stores.  Wegman's is the best grocery store in the world. You can get anything there, from gourmet cookware to snow shovels to White Stilton cheese (oh how I miss White Stilton cheese) to bulk peanuts.  Everything is good quality.  Everything is fresh.  The stores are attractive; the people who work there are happy and friendly.

The really amazing thing about Wegman's is that the basic staples are cheap.  They beat anybody's prices on white bread, eggs, milk, bananas and many other every day items.  At our store in the Syracuse area, when Aldi moved in across the street, suddenly Wegman's brand canned soups and vegetables matched Aldi's price (and you didn't need cash or a debit card to buy them).  At the same time, you could get delicious gourmet items, fresh every day.  You could even buy lobster there, and they would cook it for you, and you could have a delicious, fresh lobster dinner at home, for less than you'd pay at a seafood restaurant.  Unlike other grocery stores that mark up many non-grocery items (toothpaste, window cleaner, etc.) by 50% or more over what you'd pay at a discount store, Wegman's consistently priced these items at 5 or 10 cents over what you'd pay at, say, WalMart, which made it well worth skipping the extra trip to WalMart most of the time.

In a nutshell, Wegman's made things affordable for everyone, and if you wanted to eat economically, you could certainly do so by shopping at Wegman's.  At the same time, if you wanted to host a fancy dinner with all the best imported olives, cheeses and exotic fruits and vegetables, you could do that too.  Not cheaply, but beautifully.  All this in one attractive and efficient store.

Somebody needs to study this model and apply it to our healthcare problem.  If you could get a good system set up to offer healthcare the way Wegman's offers food -- cheap basics alongside everything you could possibly dream of (priced appropriately) -- you might not need the government to take control of the issue.

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