Single Payer. Public Option. Private insurance and free markets. It’s pretty hard to make sense of the health care debate sometimes. Especially when the public “discussion” doesn’t even deal with facts. (Don’t worry, I’m not going to get into a debate on all that here).
Those of you who’ve read my past blogs know my politics are far to the left. So of course, I’m all for a single-payer system — or what I prefer to call “socialized medicine.” (“single payer” is gobbledy gook). But regardless of what sort of system one perfers or thinks is best for our country, here’s a few facts.
As a Federal Employee, I have pretty damn good insurance. Any basic appointment for anything is only $20, no questions asked. Vaccinations for the kids, annual checkups, whatever. Prenatal and pregnancy? Covered, 100%. I couldn’t ask for better coverage. No preferred provider in my remote Alaskan town? Submit a simple letter stating that, and the claim gets paid.
Even so, I have had to fight a handful of times over the last 10 years. Like when they considered a mid-pregnancy ultrasound NOT routine care. I said, you show me a single doctor who doesn’t consider it routine! And don’t get me started on the “miscoded” items — when the doctor’s office put the wrong magic number on something that I knew should be covered. I once fought for an entire year over $36, just on a matter of principle. (To Blue Cross’ credit, they are the ones who eventually straightened it out).
Still, the battles have been few over the total time I’ve had this coverage — so overall, I am lucky to have such a great package. BUT, I pay through the nose for it. And my employer pays half! I can’t imagine what kind of coverage I would have if they didn’t — and that is the plight of so many Americans.
So I look at it this way: I am already paying damn good money for my own coverage. If I’m paying anyway, why not pay into a system that helps cover the less fortunate? In other words, taxes. Would that really be so bad? (See my April post “The Price of Civilization” for a discussion on taxes in general).
I know some people are ideologically against taxes and “big government.” But we already have both of those anyhow. So why not revise the system and put those taxes into programs that help the greater good? I know, I know — that flies in the face of the mythological “rugged American individualism” that poisons us. But think about it: what if it were you who needed health care? Or your dear old granny (no death panel coming)? What if you lost your job and coverage along with it, and then you or a family member got cancer?
I’m all for personal responsibility. But there are a few things that are for the common good, that benefit us all. Health care is one of them. Again, since I’m paying anyway, I would just as soon have that money help someone else too. I know that’s awfully socialist of me, but it just seems to make sense.
While I can agree with you ideologically to an extent, I don’t believe that I could ever possibly get into any kind of need of health care, for myself or any of my loved ones, that would give me the right to come to your house and demand that you pay for it, which is exactly what the government paying for it involves. I believe that it is the government’s involvement in health care that has driven the costs so high to start with and further involvement will only drive those costs higher.
Additionally, this treatment of equal health care for all as a right leads to another important question … what happens when there is an extreme shortage of doctors due to too many patients or not enough whatever to keep a sufficient supply of doctors? Do we live with the government deciding that certain individuals must be trained and employed as doctors?
Excellent point, and that brings us to another issue: we should be focusing on wellness and prevention, not on treating ourselves once we are sick. That and that alone will help prevent there being too many patients. We need to stop eating Big Macs and thinking we can lose weight with a pill.
I’m cool with agreeing to disagree — that’s the only way we can end up with informed dialogues on these things. But as to paying for another’s needs, I already do that. 1) through Medicare and 2) through higher insurance costs. I’m glad that you are healthy enough that you don’t foresee a personal need….but what if you had a catastrophic accident? Or came down with some random illness such as cancer? Such things aren’t always predictable.
I would be more ok with private insurance companies IF we did something like Switzerland, where there are regulations/laws against making a profit on health insurance. When profit is the motive, the needs of the payers are disregarded. Insurance is currently about denying claims, not about covering people’s needs. And that’s just wrong. I’ll take any system that corrects that!
Thanks for commenting!
My point is that there is no health care problem catastrophic enough to give me the right to steal your money to pay for my treatment. Paying for it already doesn’t make it right. To do so voluntarily is commendable and appropriate. For me to have the right to vote to force you to pay for my benefits is reprehensible … and vice versa.
I actually like the idea of truly universal health care … anyone in the world being able to get medical treatment anywhere in the world without cost (e.g., the U.S. and other leading countries having a Dept of Health like the Dept of Defense that trains and deploys doctors around the world as needed) … why should our health care be limited to U.S. citizens? But how in the world would we be able to accomplish that?
I LOVE IT! But yes, how would we ever pay for that? It’s a Star Trek solution if ever I heard one!
I guess I just don’t see it as a matter of stealing my money. And I guess I don’t frame it in terms of your right to make me pay for your needs. I see it in terms of the commonwealth — there are some things/systems that benefit society as a whole, even if any one individual may not partake of the direct benefits. For example, we all pay taxes to fund public schools. I may not have a kid who attends public school, but I benefit from having an educated populace. I see health care the same way.
It boils down to a fundamental difference in ideology — you believe the buck should stop at the individual, and I am more “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” So we may never agree, but at least we can have reasonable discussion!
Agreed! I have an awesome plan because the Federal government is huge and can get a good deal. And rather than “dumb down” my plan to meet those of small businesses, let’s get a universal plan that brings everyone to the top!
Too Utopian? Maybe. But somebody has to be.
Sam, quick couple of points – I’m not sure other countries would want us to be the ones training their doctors, but I like the idea of universal coverage. And I don’t think any of the proposed plans are based on “equal” coverage. The concept is to ensure people have coverage – like states already do with auto insurance, provide ways for people to not lose their coverage -i.e. are able to afford COBRA coverage, to have a public option for health insurance to complete with private insurance options, to ensure small business and individuals are able to purchase affordable health insurance by creating health care pooling mechanisms, and place limits on what insurance programs can and can not do (some regulation). The Kaiser Family Foundation has a cool tool comparing all proposed bills (and important drafts) for Health Care Reform (See: http://www.kff.org/healthreform/sidebyside.cfm)
I am currently in Germany and with my first pregnancy – I wouldn’t move back to the states right now for anything. The care, and cost, I’ve received in Germany (and previously in Belgium) far exceeds any plan I’ve ever had in the US. I do have Federal Insurance, but I have not filed a claim in 3 years as the out of pocket expenses were under 5,000 Euros (this includes 2 emergency room visits for me both involving overnight stays, 5 emergency room visits for my husband, and all your regular normal routine doctors visits for 3 years). And they consider me a private insurance patient and bill me at a higher rate for some things! They have a national insurance program here as well as private insurance, the well off tend to purchase their own private insurance plans to supplement the national plan (pays for things like private rooms). I’m not saying its all peaches and cream – I’ve been here 3 years, am relatively young and healthy, so I can attest to how the system works forever, but I see the same doctors, my gyno is mine, no strange referral process and when my family doctor says go get this done – I do it, and no one asks me to justify it. And its all so ridiculously affordable.
At any rate, I agree with GeekChick, its nice to have a place to disagree reasonably!
Brenadine, thank you so much for sharing your experience! So much of the public “discussion” brings up the “horror stories” of socialized medicine. But as your story shows, tales of long lines and rationed care are false.
Why wouldn’t we all support a system like this? There’s still flexibility for one to choose private/public. AND MORE PEOPLE WOULD BE COVERED.
The answer is simple: it’s about whether you view the world as “every man for himself” or if you have compassion for those who may not be as fortunate, who may not be able to afford what most of us would consider a basic level of health care. It is NOT about big government, taxes, free market economies, or anything else. It is about one’s basic tenets in life: do you care only about yourself or about everyone?
Compassion, what a concept. Think of how many of the world’s problems would be solved by it.
I’m in agreement that everyone should have coverage … I just don’t understand where Congress or President Obama get off thinking they have the right to require every American to have medical insurance. That is so unConstitutional that it’s ridiculous … but we are not a people anymore, and have not been for a long time, that cares at all about the Constitution.
I agree. It’s like requiring everyone to have car insurance. Which is why I prefer the idea of single payer — because then the Government is “required” to cover our medical costs. This is better than requiring that we line insurance CEO’s pockets. I know, I know — this system still requires that you pay taxes that will go to covering someone else’s needs. But as I said before, this falls into the commonwealth basket — there are things we should all pay toward, things that benefit us all either directly or indirectly).
I do not like the way the bill is going. We are going to end up with something so watered down, it will be little (if any) different than what we already have.
In regards to car insurance, that’s a state issue if I’m not mistaken. And I would say that as far as I know, there is nothing to prevent states from requiring their residents to have medical insurance, whereas the Constitution does not give Congress the right to do so and the Constitution was designed to restrict the powers of the federal government and protect the rights of states and citizens; e.g., powers not expressly granted are forbidden.
Maybe some leftist will wake up some day and realize that this is a function that God gave to the church, that the government doing this is a violation of the (non-existing) constitutional separation of church and state, and sue the government to stop them from doing it.
Good point on the State vs. Federal Government jurisdiction on insurance — I always forget to think about that aspect.
As for God, government, and health care…….I can see your point, to a point. But again, I view the entire subject from a different place. It shouldn’t be the government forcing anybody to have a particular kind of health care or insurance. It should be about we as a people taking care of each other, making sure everyone has access to the medical care they need. Isn’t that what God would want us to do?
PS, I am ALL about separation of Church & State, btw. So let’s get “in God we Trust” off our money!
That was my point in my response … that is what God would want us to do, though I have some serious doubts about whether He would have us do it via government fiat … especially when almost every government program is a failure.
Government is a failure because our citizenry is largely apathetic. Too many have ignored the issues too long, and now we are so far down a road that it will take major efforts to correct course.
You may have a good answer to this: in another blog a while back, I challenged libertarian-minded people to explain to me how a tax-free system would work. I would really like to know. How would the commonwealth things get taken care of, like roads? Check my blog list for it — I think it was called The Price of Civilization. I am open to alternative systems but apparently unable to conceive of them myself.
I think Sam’s argument is that it’s not the Feds jurisdiction; it’s the State’s (that’s who mandates auto insurance – though funny how they all mandate it). So his beef on that point is that it’s unconstitutional.
Frankly, I say screw insurance — just pay taxes and let us go to the doctor!