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Obamacare

Policy areas: 
Healthcare
Rick's thoughts: 

 

Hasn't enough been written about Obamacare? Do I really have to add to the stock of hot air? The day is long and the burden is heavy – please let me rest.

 

OK I'm going to try to humour myself up with a story told to my traveling friends gathered around the fireplace. Light your pipes and close your eyes. But don't fall asleep! Too late for old Barry – he doesn't want to hear any more stories tonight.

 

Now it is perfectly understandable that the president tried to fix the American health care system. That's what Americans do – something broken, let's fix it.

 

And the American health care system certainly was broken. We were paying twice as much for our health care as any other competing country. Honest self employed people like me (the honest part – the only thing I was employed at was entertaining myself) couldn't buy decent insurance on the open market (and I was one of the healthy ones – imagine if the insurance company thought I was one of the sick ones). Seventy million people didn't have health insurance (wait a minute – nobody needs health insurance, everybody needs health care – were they getting health care? Yup).

 

So wait just a hairy minute here. Everybody had health care? Yup. It was the best health care in the world? Yup.

 

So … I'm confused. What was the crisis?

 

We were paying too much for it. And just about everybody wanted it for free.

 

Oh my golly delicious. That sounds like a two part problem. One part mine (paying too much) and one part yours, you greedy self serving worm you. There is no free lunch, and there is no free health care. You have to pay for it. Just like pizza.

 

Back to the real problem – yes we were paying too much. Twice as much, but not twice as good. Overcharged.

 

So … quick question. Why? Quick answer. Because there was so much government interference in the market it went to hell in a handbasket.

 

Any other questions? Class dismissed.

 

That's right, the government – state and federal – interfered in the market and royally twisted things up. Allow me to list the ways.

 

1) Monopolized the market for everyone 65 and up. Call me Medicare.

 

2) Took a lot of healthy young men and women out of the insurance pool. Call me VA hospitals.

 

3) Gave tax breaks to people who bought their health insurance through their employer. Call me Mr. Subsidized.

 

4) Prevented insurance companies from competing across state lines. Call me for a violation of the Interstate Commerce Clause (read your Constitution today? One section a day and you'll be done in no time).

 

5) FDA. We prefer to have you die waiting for our approval, when we don't get blamed for it.

 

6) Political hysteria drummed up by media hysteria. The sky is falling the sky is falling! Wasn't that fairy tale supposed to teach us not to believe the sky is falling? I understand why politicians never figured that out, but journalists? Oh that's right – they can only sell ads if they sell newspapers and they can only sell newspapers if the sky is falling. Makes perfect sense now.

 

7) Monopolistic behavior. I have heard, and I can only hope it is not true, that in some states hospitals have to get approval from some government employee before they are allowed to buy new medical technology. Please convince me this is just a horrid rumor.

 

8) Patents. They come from the government. They are supposed to encourage innovation. We might want to revisit that idea.

 

9) Lawyers. But we can blame them for everything, so let's not get too excited. They sue doctors, which in some cases may be a good idea, in others not so much.

 

10) Workers compensation insurance. What? Yet another government mandate? Why do people who have insurance, need workers' compensation insurance? Isn't that just making things complicated? OK, I give up, you're right.

 

There are many more. I just pulled those ten out of my hat between mile markers 290 and 272. Just think if I went to zero.

 

So we have this completely messed up health care billing system and a fella wants to fix it – sounds easy. Slow and easy get the government out of it. Maybe a ten year plan.

 

Nope. The President – and if you are someone who hates him and wants me to say nasty things about him I will not, because I'm thinking you wouldn't have done so great in the hot seat either – decided to double down. Instead of less government involvement, more.

 

Why should anyone be surprised when it didn't exactly work as planned? You really thought you knew so much – that anybody knew so much – that you or anybody could 'fix' the largest industry in the country?

 

"The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design," sayeth Hayek.

 

So now you know. Don't make the same mistake again, thank you very much I'm dreaming.

Comments

Angi's picture

You have subscribed to the biggest lie ever told regarding healthcare--that many people wanted it for free. NO. Many people wanted it for half the price it cost so that they could afford it. They also want to be able to come through a medical catastrophe without being bankrupt and while paying the doctors and hospital FAIR prices. Don't subscribe to the hype. Worker's Comp ... maybe you don't realize that this is because insurance companies REFUSE to pay for an injury that is a direct result of work, and it is a means of holding an employer responsible for a safe workplace? I agree with a lot you say here. There is much wrong with the systems involved in healthcare in this country. But calling healthcare a "marketplace", suggesting it is an unnecessary commodity that you only use when you can afford is over half of what is wrong with ours. Again, there needs to be a reasonable and equitable middle ground that doesn't leave the lower economic classes (who are the backbone of society for the most part) in the dust.

We could probably have an interesting sit down discussion on this, but I back up my claim that people want health care for free, although they don't necessarily use those words, by pointing to the number of people who get it for free, because they vote for politicians who promise it for free. Medicare, first and worst, because all you have to do to get it is survive until you are 65. Medicaid number two, because it makes being poor much less scary, therefore much easier to accept (I sometimes honor the theory relatively rich and unscrupulous people prefer programs separating the poor from the rest of us, in order to create class conflict from which they benefit, although I usually ascribe such people's actions to simple well meaning ignorance). And VA hospitals last, because at least their patients did something to earn free medical care, even if it was in the past (and completely unrelated to their current medical condition). And I guess I should add in the uninsured people who know they can just go to the emergency room if there is a true emergency, so save their money to buy things they value more than health insurance. [I was astonished to discover, pre-the Affordable Care Act, that 25% of all uninsured Americans earned $70,000 per year or more (and perplexed as to why I was supposed to be concerned about their situation).] All that said - my claim that 'just about everybody wanted it for free' was pure hyperbole,' and you called me out on it. Fair enough. Workers comp is another story. The only reason insurance companies refuse to pay for a work related injury is because they know your employer is legally required to pay for it, thanks to workers comp. It was a political decision made when workers and their employers got in bed together and said 'We're happy!' Let me throw the insurance companies in there, too, because it was a true menage a trois. Why so much glee? Workers got guaranteed coverage while employers and their insurers got limited liability. It came at a time when almost no one in the country had any health insurance at all (in the 1910's). There's a paper on it at www.nber.org/papers/w5840. My preferred solution for everyone is to make sure they can earn enough money, from working, to buy their own health insurance (without going broke in the process). I'm trying to get that 'Issue' written up, but time has not been working in my favor, so you'll have to be patient. I don't mean to suggest healthcare is an unnecessary commodity, simply that it is a commodity and cannot be delivered for free therefore the best way to allocate it efficiently is through the marketplace. There may be a need for some government oversight, but that won't be known until we get rid of the current government oversight and let the market sort itself out starting with a blank slate. There is probably not enough political will in the country to make that happen, now or in the future, so let's just unwind the system one bad piece of legislation at a time. And why not start with workers compensation? [Answer: everybody wants the system fixed, nobody wants to be the first guinea pig.]
Dean Orfanoyannis's picture

Wow, Rick. It's amazing that you actually trust the private, for-profit health insurance industry with our Lives ! You think they will provide us with affordable health insurance that actually covers us in an emergency out of the kindness of their hearts? If we just get government out of their hair? As comedian Steve Martin used to say in the '70s, "You are so Nai-eeve." And you even think Medicare was a bad idea. Wow. If you think govt. is too involved in health care , you should talk to some of my relatives and friends in Canada, Europe, Japan and Australia, and see what they tell you about their completely government-run health care paid for straight out of their payroll taxes. Tell them what happens every time one of their politicians so much as breathes one word about changing it. Those politicians Lose their elections every time. Making a profit off people getting sick is Immoral. A good chunk of those people who show up in the "Disapprove of Obamacare" category are those who want to get rid of health insurance middle-men Completely, like those other countries did, and replace it with actual govt. -run health care -- Medicare-for-All. ....I hope I didn't give you a heart attack !
Dean Orfanoyannis's picture

(I'm re-posting because I see my comment in 'Preview' mode, but when I click "Save", I see nothing.) Wow, Rick. It's amazing that you actually trust the private, for-profit health insurance industry with our Lives ! You think they will provide us with affordable health insurance that actually covers us in an emergency out of the kindness of their hearts? If we just get government out of their hair? As comedian Steve Martin used to say in the '70s, "You are so Nai-eeve." And you even think Medicare was a bad idea. Wow. If you think govt. is too involved in health care , you should talk to some of my relatives and friends in Canada, Europe, Japan and Australia, and see what they tell you about their completely government-run health care paid for straight out of their payroll taxes. Tell them what happens every time one of their politicians so much as breathes one word about changing it. Those politicians Lose their elections every time. Health Care is Not a Commodity. It is a Life or Death proposition. Making a profit off people getting sick is Immoral. As a Christian, I find for-profit health insurance offensive. A good chunk of those people who show up in the "Disapprove of Obamacare" category are those who want to get rid of health insurance middle-men Completely, like those other countries did, and replace it with actual govt. -run health care -- Medicare-for-All. ....I hope I didn't give you a heart attack !
Dean Orfanoyannis's picture

Wow, Rick. It's amazing that you actually trust the private, for-profit health insurance industry with our Lives ! You think they will provide us with affordable health insurance that actually covers us in an emergency out of the kindness of their hearts? If we just get government out of their hair? As comedian Steve Martin used to say in the '70s, "You are so Nai-eeve." And you even think Medicare was a bad idea. Wow. If you think govt. is too involved in health care , you should talk to some of my relatives and friends in Canada, Europe, Japan and Australia, and see what they tell you about their completely government-run health care paid for straight out of their payroll taxes. Tell them what happens every time one of their politicians so much as breathes one word about changing it. Those politicians Lose their elections every time. Making a profit off people getting sick is Immoral. A good chunk of those people who show up in the "Disapprove of Obamacare" category are those who want to get rid of health insurance middle-men Completely, like those other countries did, and replace it with actual govt. -run health care -- Medicare-for-All. ....I hope I didn't give you a heart attack !
nicole's picture

I SO far agree with your stance on all your listed issues,except this one.In the years before Obama my eyes were opened to just how broken our health care system was.I was raised by my single mother who at some times worked up to three jobs,one of which offered health insurance.The premium was insanely high because she had high blood pressure,a pre-existing condition. (I can't imagine why she would have that) ,so she had to pay out of pocket, no problem right so she bettered herself ,made more money,I moved out, but she was still never able to afford their insurance.Did I mention she worked in healthcare? Yes as a rehabilitation aide,she made OKAY money and loved her job taking care of others,but then she had a heart attack,and everything changed I won't go into detail except this one ,before being sent to University of Iowa hospitals (who were great) we were in another hospital in NW Iowa and a doctor there asked me if she was having drug withdrawals because she was up moving around because her back was hurting,so not only would they not do her surgery there because she didn't have insurance they accused her of being a drug addict,this is why even though Obamacare are IS flawed I support it, because at least he's trying to do something to fix our healthcare system.My mother worked her whole life taking care of people and treating them with compassion just to be treated like a junkie when she got sick, what about people who have no daughters to be their advocates and tell that doctor off,this is what is broken I've been there and it scares me,we can't let that stand. You've got the rest right but not this.I have very good health insurance and I have never been treated this way even in that same hospital my mother had trouble in,that does not seem random to me.She didn't want her insurance for free,she just wanted to have a place to live and not die. I moved my mother in with me,my husband and kids just so I could make sure this did not happen to her again,and I continue to fight for her right to life,and I pity anyone who comes up against me in that.

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