Thursday, October 3, 2013

A response

There was a blog out there a couple of days ago where a mom was explaining to her two young sons why Obamacare would not work.

She compared it to a tax for free entertainment.  You have to pay whether you choose to use it or not. Clearly this is not fair or good.  If young boys in the early grades of elementary school can see that it is not fair to run a system this way, we should all be able to see why Obamacare is no good.

I am generally conservative.  I did not vote for Obama.  But her comparison is ridiculous.  Ridiculous.  There is no comparison between access to entertainment and access to healthcare.

I do not go on cruises.  There are a myriad of reasons for this.  The most obvious one is that cruises are a fairly spendy sort of vacation, and I am very prone to motion sickness.  I have no intention of ever paying that kind of money for an experience that might make me vomit for a week in my claustrophobic cabin.  I might (might) go on a free cruise to test this theory, but there is no way I would ever pay to cruise.  Another reason why I would never pay to cruise is this:  I do not eat very much.  I am picky about the nutritional value of the food I do eat.  And I do not drink at all.  Since cruises are famously all-inclusive, I do not feel the need to pay the money to sit on a boat, queasy, and watch other people overindulge in food and drink that I would not partake of even were I not queasy.  This is the "entertainment tax" in practice: people who go on cruises are paying for the entertainment of the entire group, whether or not they choose to attend an event, watch a show, eat at the all-night chocolate buffet, or gulp down multitudinous mixed drinks.  The more you over-indulge, the more value you get for your vacation dollar.  This is not my kind of vacation and would, in fact, be very stressful to me as I realized how much I was getting ripped off.

But Obamacare, much as I may not like the way he has designed it, is not about paying for other people's fun.  It is about paying for other people's healthcare.  Now, obviously, this is very frustrating when you look at people who are unhealthy because they make bad choices.  No, I do not want to pay for the lung cancer treatment for a man who chose to smoke three packs a day.  I do not want to pay for the diabetes treatment for someone who gave himself type 2 diabetes by drinking four liters of Mountain Dew every day.  It is annoying to be a responsible, health conscious person, and to be asked to pay for the healthcare of people who will not take basic measures to care for their bodies.  BUT at the same time, if I am blessed with health, it is not the end of the world for me to contribute towards the healthcare of the person who got lung cancer from undetected radon in her basement, or the child with type 1 diabetes, or the baby with leukemia, the young mother with breast cancer, the construction worker who was in a terrible accident.

We who have more should share with those who have less. That is a biblical principle.

The problem with Obamacare is not that we all pay into a system, and then some people end up needing to use it more than others.  That isn't the problem with it.  That should be the point of it.  And if we don't need to use it, we should thank God for granting us health.

The problem with Obamacare is not even that it is socialized medicine.  Some things work better when more resources are combined to create the system.  Those who compare a federal medical system to a federal education system have a point.  It is not the end of the world.  I know that there are those who hate the public school system, too, and pull out of it.  I believe that they should have that right, and that people who elect not to use a public health system should likewise have the right to pull out.  But for the good of society, it seems fair to me that we pay our taxes to cover those who do use the public system, whether or not one chooses to use it oneself.

This is not the side of Obamacare that is a problem.  The problem is something that nobody will talk about.

The problem is not that Obama is trying to set up a national healthcare system.  The problem is that he is trying to do it while still maintaining and preserving wildly profitable private health insurance companies.  That is the problem.

Democrats won't tell you about it, because they don't want to admit that this is what they are doing.  They just raise your taxes every year.  You have experienced this.

Republicans won't tell you about it because they are in the pockets of the prospering health insurance company executives and their lobbies.  "Business," it's called.  They just raise their policy prices every year, to stay profitable.  You have also experienced this.

They can't have it both ways.

If you want a national healthcare system that is economical, accessible and helpful, it must be run as a non-profit.  Must be.  Even then, it is probably iffy.  But if this condition is not met, there is not a remote chance of economic feasibility.

But of course, to shut down all our health insurance companies would cause massive unemployment across the country and precipitate yet another crisis.

So what do you do?  I don't know.  I am not that smart.  But I can tell you this: to run a "national healthcare policy" that also integrates continued, significant profits for private health insurance companies will never work.

And who are the big losers?

The people.  Of course the people.


I have maintained, and I will continue to maintain, that if you could get the insurance companies and the lawyers out of the healthcare system, everything would settle out in a much improved manner.

1 comment:

Shannon said...

This is a GREAT blog post. I have been doing a lot of reading and thinking about the ACA / Obamacare lately and I think that there is actually a lot of good to it.

The problem is exactly what you point out: the problem is that the system is being put in place while still allowing insurance companies to absolutely make boatloads of money off of the people.

The thing I like about it is also the thing that makes it the least likely to work. You pay into the system. It is mandatory to have health insurance, and you can even opt out of the "base level" package if your employer offers better insurance. It is mandatory because - and this is important! - if it is not mandatory and the health insurance companies are not allowed to turn away people with pre-existing health conditions, it will absolutely be abused.

People will not pay for health insurance until it benefits them, and then they will opt in. With insurance companies unable to refuse coverage, they are operating at a huge loss. Ethics of insurance companies aside, it would result in insurance companies only providing services to the most expensive patients, and the system would be even more broken, because that is not sustainable.

Unfortunately, as this ends up being a game of percentages, if health insurance companies are only allowed to make 25% profit (I can't remember what the deal was exactly, but there's a ratio), they just up the wholesale price and widen the margins, making tons of money at the expense of the people while abiding to the letter of the law. Man. The system is just hopelessly broken.

Anyway I really appreciated that you wrote this blog.