Sometimes I post a blog and then think: “what I should have said is this…”
That’s the case here. What I should have said is the fact that some seem not to care if other folks can get health care reminds me of reading both fiction novels and true accounts of the old sailing ship days when hearty sailors were out to sea for years at a time. Back then if you were an able bodied seaman and you were injured you were no longer worth anything to the ship’s captain and its owners. You lost your pay and had to depend upon the pity of your fellow sailors, even for a scrap of food (a good reason to get along with your fellow employees for sure). Seems like a hard core and hard-hearted way of doing things to me. But I suppose some would prefer that method for today’s society, maybe on the grounds that too many take advantage of the generosity and compassion of others while failing to do what they can for themselves. But somehow I have to think many of the so-called tea party protesters either do or will at some point find themselves in need of help from public programs and will think nothing of signing up. And of course I know what they will say in their own rationalizations: “I paid for it.” Yes, and so do we all. You’re welcome.
I wish the health care reform issue was over. From the news reports it appears as the most contentious issue ever to face the public in my lifetime (60 years).
Nearly everyone wants excellent health care, but people just don’t agree on how it should be paid for and what their own responsibility, if any, should be outside of themselves and their family members. And most agree that the cost of health care is a problem but there seems to be no consensus on what to do to control costs.
While I am not one of those who thinks the so-called “free market” solves all problems, it is kind of hard to tell because we seldom have a “free market” in anything, due to government regulation on business, much of which is, truth be told, promoted by business to get advantage in the marketplace. It occurs to me that the black market may be the only free market (because there is no government control).
While I do not know if government-sponsored health care is always the best way to go, I kind of think it would have been better had this nation (the United States) done so a long time ago. We did not, totally, anyway. We do have Medicare and Medicaid and military insurance and so on, though, and it seems to work for those involved – yes I know, Medicare is running out of money. But I think anytime one says Medicare or Social Security has a funding problem, it is more an issue of priorities than anything else. It is no secret, for instance, that Social Security funds have been robbed over the years for all types of things other than the intended purpose.
And as in the private sector, the public sector has depended too much on borrowing as if the day would never come when it had to be paid back or when revenues dropped too far down to pay the cost of interest on all that borrowing.
Maybe what we need for health care is indeed a free market. But there would have to be government oversight. I mean what good does it do if you are asked to pay health care premiums but can have your coverage denied or dropped because of pre-exiting conditions? And how can you say there is a free market when you can’t buy private health insurance across state lines – and who put that provision in the law in the first place?
As I have stated several times before on the subject, I think President Obama would have done better to simply put forward a program in which two things would happen – health care coverage would be made available to all with consumers expected to pay the cost of premiums, and in cases where people truly could not afford coverage (and that is sometimes subjective, but there has to be a legal cutoff point) the government (yes, the taxpayers) would step in. In some sense that is what we already have, but the problem is that there are cracks people fall through or loopholes. People often have to end up liquidating their own hard-earned assets to pay for health care and/or to qualify for assistance.
And there really needs to be a law that health insurance is mandatory. Why? Because so many people without health coverage flood the emergency rooms and the law does require that they be attended to (a hospital in my town has been under fire by the government for supposedly failing to meet that obligation to the full extent to the law). To cover the cost of the uninsured, hospitals and other medical providers have to charge those who do pay at a higher rate to offeset the costs of those who don’t, and the government of course has to raise taxes to cover the cost too.
I get the impression now that health care reform or at least some type of adjustment is coming. It will be watered down from what ultra liberals want and it may be too restrictive for conservatives, but if it at least meets the goal of offering – and mandating – coverage for all, I think that would be an improvement.
A truly free market in health care coverage would have the advantage of allowing people to decide just how much they want to be covered. Do they want to pay extra for a plan that pays nearly all costs or do they want to be more economical by simply protecting themselves from catastrophic incidents? I know if I or my family members had to pay for the full cost of my own bout with cancer none of us could meet it.
And a free market where consumers decided about and had the responsibility to pay for coverage would free employers of the burden of offering health care coverage and would allow small employers to feel free to take on more employees, not having to consider that if they do they might fall within one of those proposed mandates that employers of a certain size provide coverage.
In fact, the system in which so many have or had generous coverage is a large part of what led to so much inflation in health care costs in the first place. When those who offered services – hospitals and doctors and others – knew that consumers did not directly deal with or even see the costs, they tended to inflate the bills.
And one more thing: while the president may be to the left of many, his willingness to compromise but at the same time his insistence to get something done plays just right with me. To those who feel he is ramming something down their throats (so to speak), I say elections have consequences. Your guy won last time, the other guy won this time.
In my previous post I wondered if Obama would present a little more clarity to his proposals. I think he did. That is he presented a clear outline of what he wants. It apparently is still a work in progress, and even though congress often does not read all the details of what it votes on – who would? And to the tea party protesters: if you are sincere and if there are enough of you – and it’s not just charade orchestrated by the ditto head Rush Limburger or Glen Heck or Hannity Insanity (not their real names) blowhards — you may well have an effect. Public pressure – even outside of actual elections — also has its consequences.