Psst, want to buy a bridge?

*** Rant Warning ***

stethmoneyWhat to do about health care costs. What to do …

I got an email today from Senators Leahy, Durbin, and Schumer asking me to sign their petition supporting a public option for health insurance. (Apparently the DNC just cannot accept that my buying an Obama bumper sticker last fall does not make me a Democrat.)

Admittedly, it does seem logical that competition of some kind might be one way to make the health insurance companies reconsider their policies. But don’t they already compete with one another? The problem, of course, is they compete with one another for profits (how very un-American of them). They aren’t interested in helping customers/patients except as it benefits their bottom line.

But assuming a public health insurance option would help, what exactly would it do? Well, it would offer coverage to people who don’t currently have any because (a) they can’t afford it, or (b) they’re unemployed, or (c) they have a pre-existing condition that makes them “uninsurable” (i.e., too expensive for a profit-oriented company to want to insure). A public insurance company would offer coverage to these “unprofitable” people and (because they already couldn’t afford it) their coverage would have to be underwritten with government funds (i.e., tax money). Therefore I take with a grain of salt the idea that public health insurance will help solve the problem or that it would be so financially viable as to threaten existing for-profit companies.

When my COBRA ran out a few years ago, private insurance companies refused to sell me an individual policy (apparently being 63 years old was an unacceptable “pre-existing condition”). I was able to buy coverage from a state-operated “high risk pool” but I guarantee the premiums were such that it was no threat to private companies.

Then, at 65, I was shuffled immediately onto Medicare, a public health insurance operation that everyone says is going broke. Clearly, if it does, I’m up a creek. Aside from that, Medicare stands as an example of how government does health care. And throw in the Veterans Administration, too.

As for objecting to public insurance because it will “put some Washington bureaucrat between me and my doctor” — that dog won’t hunt. Whether it’s the government in Washington, a little company here in Colorado, or Blue Cross in Wherever, USA, there are going to be bureaucrats standing between me and my doctor every step of the way. We could eliminate insurance companies entirely and I’d still be wrestling with bureaucrats in the hospital’s billing office or at the doctor’s office. Bureaucrats are a ubiquitous fact of life, whether they fly jets into Washington every day or exist only as officious little clerks in some windowless office at the end of the hall.

And why this fixation on insurance anyway? What about Big Pharma and its cut-throat marketing and pricing? What about the lawyers driving doctors into practicing and charging us for “defensive medicine”? What about our greedy, litigious society that thinks it is owed a perfect outcome every time from those fallible human beings called doctors? What about the overwhelming and ever-increasing regulations and paperwork that leave doctors with less and less time for their patients? Or that dissuade people from becoming doctors in the first place?

Do you really think the likes of Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Roland Burris, John Ensign, and Arlen Specter are going to fix this problem? Do you really think those folks in Washington understand this problem well enough and will agree enough and will care enough to find a way to fix it? Really, seriously fix it? And do it all in the next couple of months?

Puh – leeze.

2 comments

  1. “Whether it’s the government in Washington, a little company here in Colorado, or Blue Cross in Wherever, USA, there are going to be bureaucrats standing between me and my doctor every step of the way.”

    AMEN!
    ____________
    I had a hunch you’d agree with that.

  2. Hey 30,
    This post was aptly named. And you’re right – these folks are clueless and much of the costs of healthcare have little to do with the healthcare itself and more to do with liability and our society’s fixation on suing anything that moves. Perhaps if we insisted that our ‘leaders’ had to partake of the insurance options that we have, rather than getting free medical care of the highest quality as part of their perks – they might get it. Although, since we don’t even sneeze at the fact that they vote themselves raises every year, have a lifetime pension even if only serving one term, don’t pay payroll taxes and fly around on jets whenever they’ve a mind to – I doubt we’ll insist they get real about healthcare, eh?

    Annie
    _________
    Exactly! They don’t live on the same planet as the rest of us. Never have. And boy did you hit a nerve with the voting themselves pay raises. I can’t remember how many decades ago I first learned they could do that, but it is just wrong, wrong, WRONG! It should be illegal for anyone to be able to do that. But since they’re the lawmakers … we are so screwed. And health care … sheesh! What we’ve got is the result of 40 years of them constantly “fixing” the system. Please, no more fixing!

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