20 August 2009

Healthcare 102

I have coffee every Thursday morning with one of my closest friends here in river city; generally we manage to solve at least one major world problem every week. Today we solved the health insurance problem. My buddy is really quite smart, which makes up for me.

The solution? Ban business from providing health insurance to its employees. What would happen? Everyone would be responsible for providing their own insurance and consequently be completely outraged at their premiums, if they could afford health insurance, and (herein lies the beauty) they would demand reform from their elected officials. Hey, at least it gets us moving in a direction!

Shortly after I posted HC 101 I got a phone call from the "Presidential Coalition" represented by Newt Gingrich's "associate". He wanted me to listen to Newt's speech. I agreed. Newt went on and on about Obama's socialist agenda and how we need to get back to conservative values of the Reagan administration......hidden between the lines was Newt's testing the waters for a presidential run in 2012. When his associate got back on the line I let him have it.

This is the problem people! For the Republicans health reform is all about political positioning. Did George W. Bush offer ANY health care reform in his 8 years? Do you realize we've been talking about the problem for 16 years under both parties and have gotten nowhere? Part of the problem is that the American people generally don't know that there even is a problem. Unfortunately the GOP response is to do nothing but protest.

Here's the deal: people need health care and cannot afford it......some of you guys out there want to say that it's not a "right". OK, from the world's perspective, you are correct. From my understanding of Christ's teachings, it may not be a right.....but it is right. If you disagree with that conclusion then we are going to have to agree to disagree. If you call yourself a Christian and disagree that we should take care of people.....something is a little twisted in your theology.

So you say, but that doesn't mean that the government should provide health care. OK, I'll give you that. A hundred years ago churches provided health care. So, I attend a church of about 300 with approximately 100 family units. Multiply that by roughly $5000 for premiums and we would have a half million dollar expense in providing health insurance to just take care of our parishioners. Now, Christ didn't call us to just take care of ourselves.....so, we have to provide coverage for the indigent, poor, homeless.....you know, the people we are called to.....and maybe we're cheap and we only take care of another 10 families, or another $50k (standard 10%). So, I think we clearly see that the church cannot provide health coverage. So, as a Christian, what's the next logical step?

Capitalism, right? Let the free market system work! I got into an exchange on facebook over a poll denouncing the Obama plan as socialism. I was most amazed at the final comment made by, I'm sure, a well meaning person. She insisted that "capitalism works!!!!" Oh yeah, right. IT IS NOT WORKING, THAT'S WHY WE HAVE THE MESS WE DO! Are people that stupid? Again, I believe it is because people get all jacked up and have no clue as to the problem that's really out there.

I don't disagree that we need tort reform. The problem? Lobbyists. We also need health insurance reform....the problem is the same. My buddy told me this morning that the ratio of lobbyists working for the health insurance interests outnumber senators and congressmen 300 to 1. Did you get that? 3-0-0 to 1! So, who do you think is going to be heard? Not you and me.

As a so-called Christian and civilized nation we (collectively) need to be certain health care is provided for every individual. I'm not saying it should be a government plan. But I AM saying WE have a responsibility to provide care. So, given that statement, we need to either 1) provide health insurance to all people or 2) provide the actual care. At least insurance would provide incoming capital to cover costs.

Seriously, going back to the solution born out of coffee this morning. If businesses eliminated the cost of health insurance...it would stimulate economic growth....taking into consideration that at least some adjustment should be made to wages. This would do two things: 1) make insurance "portable" and 2) would eliminate small "pools" and instead create giant pools in each insurance company. Common sense would dictate that premiums, because of the increase pool size, should go down.....and insurance companies would also have to become more competitive. Isn't that capitalism at work? Understanding that insurance companies are the devil, and that capitalism without moral consciousness is detrimental to a society, I think there would have to be some regulatory oversight at least initially.

Now, what to do with the people who cannot afford insurance or would not purchase insurance if their place of work dropped them? One of two solutions currently being bandied around Capitol Hill. Either 1) create a government plan that one can opt in or out of or 2) a similar non-profit solution. This would create a GIANT pool that Americans may find more competitive than for-profits....which may also reduce general costs. Here you have to be careful, because tax dollars are no doubt going to have to partially subsidize this. And with this, I go back to our moral obligation for people to receive health care.

The particulars? That's why we elect people to office. It's time they start serving the public and not special interests. As far as tort reform? The answer is simple....liability caps. No, really, it IS that simple. Regarding taxpayer funded abortions and requirements of physicians to perform these.....Healthcare 103....sorry, but this has gotten way too long.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

eeeee! You aren't going to like this HR. Did your dear friend offer to pass that money his company is saving from his proposal for health insurance on to his employees or is he just a greedy capitalist who couldn't resist hanging on to the sudden windfall? I guessing windfall!

hoosier reborn said...

that was my idea. Doesn't matter, in fact, all the better! Once people figure out there's a problem then there will be a demand to fix it. Wouldn't it be nice to see someone shaking their fist at town hall meetings saying fix my !@$#@&^%! health insurance! rather than "you $%@@!#$! socialist!"?

Jeff said...

Regarding the tort reform issue, there's an interesting article about the issue here: http://washingtonindependent.com/55535/tort-reform-unlikely-to-cut-health-care-costs

Key quote:

"It’s really just a distraction,” said Tom Baker, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and author of “The Medical Malpractice Myth.” “If you were to eliminate medical malpractice liability, even forgetting the negative consequences that would have for safety, accountability, and responsiveness, maybe we’d be talking about 1.5 percent of health care costs. So we’re not talking about real money. It’s small relative to the out-of-control cost of health care.”
Insurance costs about $50-$60 billion a year, Baker estimates. As for what’s often called “defensive medicine,” “there’s really no good study that’s been able to put a number on that,” said Baker."

Anonymous said...

If businesses were not required to pay for healthcare benefits then wages could, should and likely would rise in response as the offsets and the distribution of those "savings" would be aggregated across the working population expected to fund the government baseline of preventative and reactionary healthcare. Look at the poor growth of income as compared to the rising burden of healthcare expenses over the last 20 years and the picture becomes clearer. Not only have your costs risen disproportionately to your income but your income has stagnated as a side effect of your employers rising contributions as well. The system is milking/bilking everyone, employees and employers, for the profits and paychecks. Well, everyone except the politicians with free superior healthcare and lobbyist funds both impeding the path to the common persons' progress.

Pam said...

I still think tort reform is necessary if you truly want to "reform" the healthcare system. In central PA it is getting really hard to find an OB. Many of them have left the state to continue practicing b/c they can't afford their liability insurance here.

I don't think capping what can be awarded is going to make delivering babies any less safe or doctors less accountable. But b/c many lawsuits are frivalous, it would allow good doctors to continue practicing. The bad ones would still get weeded out.

Curt said...

Have you looked into or thought about Christian Health Care? I am recently out of work and have health care provide for the next 10 weeks, then I have to go on COBRA or my own insurances until I find new employment. I am just now exploring them, Samaritian Ministries looks very interesting.

Your thoughts?

Ishmael said...

Pam,

As a practicing physician, I can confidently say that tort reform is pretty small fry. The notion of capping liability is excellent but won't solve our access problem.

Capitalism cannot solve this problem in and of itself: The insureor's incentive in the private market is to exclude/avoid the high-needs sick patient. You cannot get around this no matter how one manipulates the game. After 13 years of practice, I have concluded that for-profit medicine cannot take care of ALL people. Free-marketers can argue this 'til the cows come home but private health care AVOIDS costly patients. Just look at which physicians see Medicaid patients in Marshall County....none of privately owned practices. I dont' fault these doctors - it's simply that they lose money seeing that patient population.

Name calling means nothing - gimme something that works!

hoosier reborn said...

Thanks for all your comments/thoughts..the key is to remain civil in the debate. Unfortunately when politicians are positioning and grandstanding, and giant corporations are lining their pockets....real debate and real reform cannot happen.

Curt-I've heard about the Christian health care model-it is worth checking out and may work for me. There still needs to be a broader solution.