Yet another article in the WSJ today about how the Republicans want to blow up the Affordable Care Act. Great idea. I agree.
Let’s also dump Humana, Anthem, Aetna, etc., etc. and finally replace them all with the dreaded “socialized medicine.”
Goodbye to all you high-priced health-insurance executives: Aetna, $30.7M; Centene, $14.5M; Caremark, $69.6M. After we dismantle the health-care insurance industry, you big rich CEOs can get honest jobs, like driving a truck. Or, if you still need the big bucks, become a pro athlete. They also make obscene amounts of money.
1) Insurance: follow the money
My father was an insurance executive. I value insurance and have dozens of policies. Car insurance: good. Home insurance: good. Life insurance: good.
Health insurance: very bad. A total rip off. Don’t need it.
An insurance agent friend told me, “I used to sell only life insurance. Then I decided to add health insurance. Huge difference. With life insurance you pay your premium and when you die, your family gets the face value of the policy. Straight- forward. With health coverage, it is very dodegy. You pay your premiums, but when you get sick, you have to fight with the insurance companies to get reimbursed. I see people driven into poverty because of health-care bills. I’m sorry I got into this business.”
How we adopted this “fee-for-service,” profit-oriented health-care model after WW II is a mystery to me. Other advanced nations socialized this vital service. Our model is just crazy. Here is how it works: the shareholders of these companies make money by denying you service. You pay huge premiums. When you get sick, the health-care insurance company refuses to pay. It’s called CAPITALISM.
Stay with me here… We “socialize” a lot of what we take for granted in our complex, high-functioning modern society. Fire and police protection, for example. We all pay taxes to support these services and we expect to benefit when we need a cop or a fire truck. Our taxes pay for public education, libraries, highways, and much more. So why don’t the right wingers call these things “socialism”?
Now, of course none of this is “free.” Nor is it free in the advanced European countries who agree to tax themselves in order to assure all citizens are covered for health-care, just like we do for fire and police protection, and public education.
My friend and PowerSpeaking colleague, John Warren, was visiting Ireland when he got pneumonia. He was in the hospital for five days, three in ICU. He needed IV antibiotics. When he was released, there was no bill to pay. They shook his hand and said, “Have a good life. ”
Who paid for all that care? The tax payers of Ireland, that’s who. Wow. Think what that would cost here. Imagine if a foreign tourist in the U.S. had an event like that, he or she could be looking at a $250,000 bill. Welcome the United States. Have a good trip.
2) Health-care costs and poverty.
Your sweet grandmother has a policy that covers 80% of her health-care costs. She lives alone in a house that is paid for and worth $500K (not in the Bay Area). She ends up in the hospital, including ICU for two weeks. The bill is $900,000. The insurance covers 80%, or $720,000. Where does the remaining $180K come from? Grandma has to sell her home and go on the dole.
3) Ask a Canadian.
Next time you meet a Canadian tourist, with a perplexed expression say, “I’m so sorry to hear about your horrible SOCIALIZED MEDICINE program. It must be awful to have big gubment (as it is pronounced in the red states) in your business, telling you what to do.” I guarantee they will look at you quizzically and say politely (remember they are Canadian), “Oh no, we like our system.”
4) No other world leaders want to adopt our system.
Notice how often you will see a politician in some other country running for election or re-election on a platform of healthcare reform that looks like this: “Let’s adopt the American health-insurance system.” Answer: zero.
5) Health-care insurance is tied to employment.
Really? Why? What a burden for everyone. Employers have to worry about all this administration and cost, and employees may be tied to jobs they hate for fear of losing benefits.
In more forward-looking countries, at birth all citizens are automatically enrolled in the nation’s health-care system. End of story. These countries willingly pay higher taxes, and in exchange do not worry about being thrown into poverty by health-care expenses. They believe it is the job of the entire country to care for all its citizens. (Bunch of commies!)
6) We already have socialized health care.
Medicare and the VA are very popular health-care programs paid for largely through taxation. Before I was eligible for Medicare, our family of three paid Kaiser about $15,000 / year for coverage. Under a socialized system, we’d pay that in taxes and be covered for life wherever we lived, and whether or not we had a job. Also, we would not be limited to any one hospital system.
What could be wrong with that? Answer: Investors and over-paid health-care executives would not be making a killing on our illnesses. It is obscene that our capitalistic, fee-for-service, free-market system allows this group of the very wealthy to get even richer when we get sick.
I thought Christianity says, “I am my brother’s keeper.” Guess that only means in places like Sweden, England, France, Germany, Canada, etc, etc., but not in this country. Hmmm, is Christianity preaching socialism? Wonder if they know that in the Bible Belt.
7) Effects on other health-care costs.
Notice how television advertising is heavily weighted toward health- insurance promotion? Imagine the cost of that to the health-insurance companies. Under universal coverage… no need for that expense. You don’t see expensive ads on TV for the VA.
Under a socialized system medical school would be free or low- fee. For example the average new MD in Canada is $28,000 in debt, whereas in the US, it is closer to $230,000.
If the profit motive is taken out of health care, imagine what it could do to reduce the cost of medicine. Big Pharma would be whittled down in size.
So I agree with the Republicans. Let’s blow up Obamacare…and the whole goddamned industry. Let’s design health care for the people who need it, not the billionaires who profit from it.
Robert Reich makes this argument beautifully in a recent opinion piece in SF Gate: