Healthcare Distortions

What I'm hearing from people against healthcare reform is as follows:
  • They don't want death panels.
  • They don't want rationing of healthcare.
  • They don't want government-funded abortions.
  • They don't want government-funded healthcare for illegal immigrants.
  • They don't want socialism.
  • They want to be able to keep their existing insurance.
There are lots of people debunking this, but here are my thoughts:

"No Death Panels":

There are no death panels being proposed. But if you're against death panels, you should be against private insurance, because that's essentially what they offer now. The insurance company's job is to find ways to not cover people who need medical care, in order to maximize their profits. This is done through several means: denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions or health risks; denying a claim; and cancelling insurance when somebody falls into a risky category.

"No rationing":

Nobody wants this. My best friend, who is a doctor, says that she believes it'll be necessary, because we just can't afford to give the best possible treatment to everyone, and at some point you have to draw lines and say that if this will cure only 2% of patients and it costs $2,000,000 per patient, maybe it's not worth it as a society, and you can only have it if you have millions to pay for it yourself.

The truth is that this is the kind of system we have today. You can't get the expensive treatments if you don't have the money or the insurance, and you can't get the insurance if you don't have the money or you have the need for insurance. Rationing is going on, it's just in disguise.

Meanwhile, the what the government is proposing doesn't include rationing. My friend may be right, and ultimately it will be needed, but even if it does happen, it will be no worse than what is going on now. I happen to think she's wrong about this, but it is true that when new treatments are discovered and they are expensive and the become the standard of care, then the cost to the system is high. I think that could be offset by taking a slice out of the insurance agencies' profits, and a slice out of the pharmaceutical companies' profits, although I fear this won't happen. I think it could be offset, as well, by becoming a healthier nation, something that might happen if we all had access to preventative medicine and routine care. But even if it doesn't, and the costs rise, and even if taxes rise, then that doesn't mean it's not still the right thing to do.

"No government-funded abortions":

I'm as pro-choice as they come. I believe government-funded abortions would be a good thing. But I also believe that there will not be government-funded abortions under this plan. Obama has said that we have a history in this country of not having abortions paid for by federal dollars, and my understanding is that this would continue to be the case.

And despite the fact that I believe abortion should be safe, legal, and accessible, and that means paid for, I also believe that people should be able to withhold their tax dollars from things they have religious objections to. So I'll tell you what, I'll agree that you shouldn't pay for others' abortions when I don't have to pay for any war. Deal? And, because I'm generous, I'll say that it's okay to give you a religious exemption now, even if you won't do the same. Just because it's not fair to me, doesn't mean I shouldn't do the right thing by you.

Come on, we all know abortion is not going to get covered in this plan. It would be too big a deal-breaker.

"No government-funded healthcare for illegal immigrants":

First of all, this plan would not provide for routine doctor's visits for illegal immigrants.

But what do you think happens now when an illegal immigrant goes to the emergency room, say for an emergency situation? Do you think the doctors don't give him or her care? They do. They're under a moral obligation and professional vow to provide care to those needing it. And how is that care paid for? There are multiple ways it could be paid for, including grants from companies to cover it, including the hospital making provisions for doctors to have a certain percentage of their time unpaid for. But ultimately, all those ways come back to the average consumer through costs being inflated to cover those other, hidden, costs of paying for people, illegal immigrants or American citizens, who don't have healthcare coverage. We who do pay or who have insurance pay all the costs, through insurance rates or the cost of care directly, for those who don't pay for their care.

"No Socialism":

Okay, so no schools, police, fire departments, roads, or Medicare paid for by the government, either. No unemployment, no post office, no army, either.

Basically, sometimes we need the government to pay for something that covers all people--like the police, like the fire department--for the good of society. Private insurance provided by workplaces is a system that doesn't work. It doesn't work because it doesn't cover everybody with something everybody needs. Heck, it doesn't even cover everybody who works.

Socialism: Not the same as Communism. Not the same as Fascism. It is an economic philosophy, like capitalism, not a political philosophy, like democracy. Democratic socialist countries abound. Capitalistic fascist societies can exist, too.

"Keep My Existing Insurance":

I wish you couldn't. I would like a single-payer system which covers the whole country. I would like universal health care. But the fact is, I'm not going to get what I want: you are. You can keep your existing insurance under the plans that are being proposed. Anyone who tells you differently is lying.

In Conclusion:

What is so frustrating to liberals is that the plans as they're being proposed are not everything we've always dreamed of. They don't include abortion, they aren't a single-payer system. They are, in fact, a gigantic compromise, maybe too big of one, already. The truth is that what is being proposed is something that the VAST majority of Americans would find reasonable and good if they understood it. The problem is that there are a lot of lies being spread about it, and those lies are being funded by the people with something to lose, using the radio and news media's talking heads and using some elected officials, as well. And the people with something to lose here have a lot of money, because they are the health insurance agencies. Because the truth is, that if you have good options, you might not want their shoddy services any more.

Lastly, in honor of Senator Ted Kennedy's passing, and because he puts it so eloquently that I was moved to tears:


Bill Baar said…
You can keep your existing insurance under the plans that are being proposed. Anyone who tells you differently is lying.

And if your employer elects to pay the 8% payroll tax to the Health Exchange Fund instead?

If your employer is kicking you points in excess of 8% on your health insurance, I think you can expect to lose it unless you are really in a hard-to-hire occupation.

What makes you think this would not be the rational response of an employer? Why would they not especially if their competitors all opt for the 8% too?

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