GOP inadvertently pushing U.S. toward real universal health care (maybe)…

UPDATE 5-7-17

NOTE: I add this addendum to my last post:

 

The Democrats had the power to finally give us universal health care when they held the majority in congress during Barack Obama’s initial term it would seem. But for some reason, maybe fearing it sounded too socialist (we used to say “communist” back in the Cold War days of my childhood) or worse yet “European socialist”, they opted for some tortured melding of public and private insurance and let the health care industry or insurance industry write most of the legislation. The public option, which had been discussed, was dropped.

It’s hard to make health care universal if private enterprise is running the show. Private business depends upon profit. And it is just not possible (I imagine) to write insurance on the private market that covers all for affordable prices. And if people cannot afford it or are not willing to pay the cost, then it is not universal — a vicious circle indeed.

For my money, so to speak, I wish the politicians tried to represent the public in general and left the health care industry out of it all. The idea should be how to help people have good health, not how to optimize profits for business. Now I realize the argument is that business has to be the number-one priority because it is the provider.

Well yes and no. Everything does cost money in this world (even in socialist systems). And unless the whole health care conglomeration from doctors to pharmaceutical labs was run by the government we are dependent upon the private sector. But let’s get back to the fact that the goal should be to make health care available to all (and if you do not believe that then don’t even bother reading any more — I can’t offer anything).

I say let private industry be private industry. One caller into a talk show I mention later in this post identified himself as a doctor who received training in Europe. He cautioned people to realize that universal health care European style is as he described it two-tier. There is public and then private. Basically those with enough money can get speedier (better?) service and everyone else at least has public health care. And I think he said that some people take advantage of both. If it is something not so urgent, they use public health care, but if it is urgent (or perhaps requires more expertise) they go the private route. He said some hospital doctors actually spend part of their day doing public work and then part of it doing the more lucrative for-profit work.

He also said that as far as the cost of medicine it is true that it is much more expensive in the United States than other places in the world but he claimed that such was the price we pay for rewarding development of breakthrough medicines that come primarily from the U.S.

So I myself don’t have much to add to that, but I would suggest maybe we here in the U.S. we should develop a universal health care system that is totally separate from the private system. And the rules for it should be made without the influence of the for-profit people. And I wrote more than once during the pre-Obamacare time that since the government issues medical licenses to doctors a requirement for that license should be a certain amount of pro-bono medical service.

Oh, and I know the concern expressed by anti-universal health care people was once the government got involved it would use its pressure to nuzzle out the private industry. But I think the private sector would always have a place. A major advantage of private enterprise is that people have access to top professional care because money talks. Not only rich people but people willing to invest (not everyone uses money in the same way) in private health insurance have access to the best care.

But that does not mean there cannot be a strong public health care sector too. If enough people are willing to pool their resources via taxes then they can have a tip-top system of universal health care.

That talk show host I mention is right wing and he seemed to lament that it looks like as far as health care goes we are going down the socialist path. Even people who identify as right wing or conservative these days still seem to accept the need for government health care. The talk show host asserted that people just don’t want to pay for their medical care. That might be true for some people but I rather think people just want a better deal.

President Trump has been all over the board on the issue and displays no knowledge whatsoever of it in reality. He only uses it as a political wedge. He used the defeat of Obamacare as a major campaign issue — not so much as Obamacare was so bad but that it symbolized the work of our first black president (that via innuendo), elitism and liberalism, and was a way of using racism as a wedge without having to mention race itself. Ironically though, it seems that Trump supporters or at least a lot of the Republican electorate does not want to give up its Obamacare (it just wanted to be against anything liberal and anything that symbolized the frightful black presidency without saying the frightful black presidency).

Enmeshed in their political party’s civil war, the Republicans after many tries finally this past week managed to push through their legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare in the House of Representatives. By all reports it takes away coverage from vast numbers of people and is highly unpopular (even within the GOP). It faces an uncertain future in the Senate. It may be amended. It may die there. It may also get the Democrats back in control of congress (unless they snap defeat from the jaws of victory as they are wont to do).

To confuse matters, President Trump just lauded Australia for having a better health care system than we have. They have, dare I say it? what we used to call (back in the Cold War days) a form of “socialized medicine”. They actually use our term of Medicare, and it co-exists with private health care.

Actually it was brought out during the last presidential campaign that Trump years ago had supported single-payer health care (government paid universal health care).

Wouldn’t it be ironic if Trump of all people was somehow, if inadvertently, responsible for finally moving us into universal health care — real universal health care?

The GOP might rue the day it made Trump its man (more than it already is ruing it).

WHAT FOLLOWS IS MY ORIGINAL POST ON THIS:

Health insurance is unique among insurances, isn’t it? I mean you can’t buy fire insurance when your house is already on fire — I don’t think you can buy earthquake insurance when the ground is already shaking or flood insurance as the water pours in, but I’ll be darned if people don’t buy health insurance or try to when they are already sick.

But we want to cover everyone for medical needs so the Obama administration pushed through Obamacare and it mandated that private insurers cover pre-existing conditions, among other things. To deal with that risky proposition insurers raised their rates.

That would seem to make sense. But raising insurance rates was not the goal of Obamacare.

(And I think there is some question as to whether or how much effect Obamacare has actually had on insurance rates but the going narrative is that it caused them to spike.)

Some providers are calling it quits citing the strain that risks imposed by Obamacare are causing.

With the mandate that everyone buy insurance (and premium subsidies offered some by the government) a lot more people than previously had been the case signed up for health insurance, thus bringing into the pool a lot of people with health problems who could now file claims.

Lest anyone reading this far think that I am trying to make a case against some type of government health care program, such is not the case. Actually I think in our modern, technologically-advanced and democratic (small d) society indeed health care should be a right, not because it is a natural right but because the consensus is that it is the decent and practical thing.

But private enterprise is hobbled by profit and it is difficult to make a profit by being forced to take bad investments or bets. It’s a bad insurance bet to just cover anyone without being able to at least jack up rates for high risks, and if a person has already been diagnosed with, say, cancer, it is no longer a risk, it’s more like a gift. But someone has to pay for that gift and that is all of the other customers, via higher rates.

Now I am already perhaps over my head in this, but I think I am correct in saying there was an attempt under Obamacare to create some type of high-risk pools that would somehow lessen the burden on the average insurance rate payer and the insurance providers. But Republican governors did not want the Democrats’ health plan to succeed so many did not play along.

And fast forward into the world on President Trump and several times the Republicans who won the presidency in part by beating the straw man called Obamacare have tried to pass a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare and have come up short, even though they have majorities in both houses of congress and have the presidency (actually they have been trying to defeat Obamacare for several years but it has become more popular under the threat of its demise). Their party is divided among those who really don’t even care for the idea of the government being involved in health insurance (except possibly for congressmen and senators) and the more moderate Republicans (and hooray there really are moderates in the GOP), who have some compassion and feel some need to address the needs of common everyday people who are their constituents.

(Oh, and as I write this, the GOP is giving one more try to repeal and replace Obamacare before congress goes on recess.)

I’m paraphrasing here but radio talk show host Tom Sullivan in puzzlement over why the GOP cannot seem to pass the bill on Obamacare replacement wondered why instead of doing something to help their constituents, something to help the public, legislators are afraid to pass such a bill for fear of losing their seats in congress. The only thing I can read into that is that congressmen must look at what is good for the people they represent but at the same time know if they vote the wrong way lobbyists representing things like big pharma and health insurance providers will exert pressure to oust them from their seats via campaigning with cash and other methods for challengers to remove the errant congressmen. There is a flaw in our system that makes our legislators more responsive to special interests than to the people they are supposed to represent.

(Oh, and I want to make it clear for those not acquainted with talk show host Sullivan: he is a business-oriented conservative and not a fan of Obamacare. His show is on the Fox network but I would not hold that against him. I find him to be a lot more intelligent and discerning than most of his callers. Alas I do not agree with most of his politics but he presents good arguments from the business perspective.)

As to my personal opinion I still cling to the notion that an expansion of Medicare is what would work better in the United States.

We also need to look at hospital costs. Hospitals are kind of like big oil. No one seems to be able to pinpoint how they come up with their pricing. Actually hospitals are worse in that they do not seem to even be connected to any kind of market pricing.

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: