First, I wish to apologize for not posting for some days now. Work has been busy, with a major project last week, followed by a brief but very pleasant vacation in Connecticut. However, I am now returning with a post that I am sure many will find interesting, and at the least, thought provoking. Health care.
Government run health care is something one would think was bringing about the death of American civilization. I can just see the hammer and sickle flying on a red background above the Capitol, and Russian music blaring on loudspeakers, patriotic themes about the Motherland blaring across from Sea to Shining Sea. Or so the detractors of a US Government health care plan would lead you to believe.
Other sensationalists include: the erudite and well-informed Sarah Palin (who also brought us the fact unknown to basically the entirety of the world, not to mention anyone who sailed the northern most reaches of the Pacific in say… the last… oh ~300 years or so at least, that she could see the Russians from her window), and Representative Michele Bachmann from Minnesota who seemingly would like to bring back the good ol’ days of McCarthyism to people she considers to be “anti-American”. (I would also like to note that, in her blog, she also states that “we know that cap-and-trade is an absolutely disastrous economic policy” something I will disagree with since we simply do not know that as fact. Europe has carbon taxes as their economic foundation hasn’t crumbled. Also, see my earlier blog article here.)
Now, detractors of a Federal Plan, would have you think the above. They probably enjoy talking about how it will lead to higher costs, killing off grandma, the weak, and allowing abortions to run rampant. However, not one of them has led to actual reform to a) lower costs, b) improve the quality of health care, c) actually come up with a decent alternative proposal that would improve the system. I have not gone through the plan line by line, but what it does seem to offer to me, is something wonderfully free-market: provides a choice.
Amazingly enough, however, those who would benefit the most, are those who seem to be complaining about Congresses attempts the most. I will not get into the distributional politics overly much, however, it has been documented in California, that most tax money per capita comes from the Democratic leaning costal areas and then flows inland into the Republican leaning areas, in vast amounts (PDF diagram). Just turn the system into a you get the money you pay in, and have done with it. Let the distribution take care of itself.
Returning now to health care specifically. What we need is a focused program, de-linking health care from the employer to the individual. This would even the playing field. Secondly, enrollment in healthcare must be mandatory. This broadens the base, and will help keep costs down. Lets face it, as a healthy 20-something, I have been to the hospital only a handful of times in the last decade, and mostly for routine-checkups, or for problems I have had with my knee. Not for anything more serious than wisdom-tooth extraction. I have generally had the good fortune to be employed by organizations that provided good health insurance. However, if I had not had good insurance, the problems might have lingered (such as my injured knee), requiring expensive surgery rather than less-expensive physical therapy.
A platter of choices, based on region, is the way to go. For example, there is GEHA, and there is the FEHB, both of which… you guessed it, provide choices. Even former Gov. Palin, in 2007 created a panel to: “develop a statewide plan which will identify short-term and long-term strategies to effectively address issues of access to, and cost and quality of health care for Alaskans.”
Once I have a chance to wade through the proposed legislation myself, I will write a follow up article. However, I would like to remind everyone of one major fact when it comes to health care. The Federal Government, under Republican intervention weighed in on the private, personal matter of letting a woman long on life support be let to peacefully die: her name was Terri Shiavo. Instead, it was dragged through the court system repeatedly, with Gov. Jeb Bush and the Legislature requiring the re-insertion of a feeding tube. Led by the Republican Party, and Pres. Bush, the feds quickly became involved. Ultimately she was allowed to die.
I offer this as a cautionary tale, since the same party is now most vigorously opposing health care reform. It makes me wonder what all is at stake financially for those now involved. Probably a lot of money. As anyone without medical insurance can tell you, the bills sure do add up quickly.