Monday, September 7, 2009

Free Healthcare and It’s Discontents....

Why is there so much confusion over the current healthcare debate?

The information (FACTS) are all out there, so there shouldn’t be any confusion at all, but there IS.

FACT: Healthcare costs have been skyrocketing in the USA for years. They've far exceeded the rate of inflation and have swamped most worker’s wage increases over the last decade or so. Those costs have gone up due PRIMARILY to Americans, across the board, having access to the latest (and most expensive) health care technologies.

FACT: America’s existing “public options” (Medicare and Medicaid) have failed. They will BOTH implode, but Medicaid especially, by 2016, with its projected $5 TRILLION deficit! Those two programs are suffering under monumentous mismanagement, incompetence, waste, abuse and outright fraud.

FACT: BOTH Democrats and Republicans ARE and HAVE BEEN actively seeking a way to CUT America’s costs and NOT “offer more or better healthcare to more people.”

FACT: There is no “public option” now being considered that would provide long-term care to seniors at government (taxpayer) expense. Moreover, there is no indication of any broad public support for such a program. In fact, most Americans acknowledge the growing national debt as our biggest problem. In response to that the Obama administration has sought to “pay for” its universal care by CUTTING about $500 BILLION from Medicare and Medicaid!

Of course, that number is not close to paying for the projected $1.6 TRILLION cost of this universal care.

Ted Kennedy, less than a month before he died, called for the rationing of healthcare to those on any public options, and that is exactly in line with what the Congressional Democrat’s Bill would deliver.

FACT: The reason most American working people would be WORSE off with an expanded public option is that their employers would have no reason to maintain their current health plans. It would be far cheaper to simply shunt those folks onto the public option. BOTH private sector and public sector (state, local and federal) workers would eventually be placed on the public option.

The government simply CAN’T pay for the current unlimited access to the best and most high-tech healthcare in the world. America’s survival rate for early detected prostate and breast cancers is nearly 100% compared to England’s 77%! There's no question that Americans get the best and most high-tech healthcare, but the unfortunate reality is that it can no longer be given away to all, regardless of whether they're insured or not.

With those fiscal realities in place, the government would have to severely restrict and heavily ration the healthcare offered under its public option. Those workers who now get the bulk of their healthcare paid for by their employers, would have to pay high insurance premiums merely to circumvent the restrictions and rationing the public option will come with, just to maintain the same level of access they currently enjoy. Those who now take home more money each payday by opting not to pay into their share of their company healthcare premiums would have that option or CHOICE denied them. They’d have the option of the free and rationed public option chosen for them...they'd only be able to deny paying for the private insurance needed to circumvent the rationing the public option will come with.

Those who can’t or won’t pay the gap-insurance premiums needed to circumvent the public option restrictions and rationing would face the possibility of being given pain pills instead of access to more expensive treatments for advanced care. That’s not only the existing reality in places like England, it’s also the existing reality in places like Oregon, where older people on Oregon’s statewide plan are often offered $50 pain kills instead of $4,000 anti-cancer drugs, as government must always balance individual benefit, which is minimal for the poor and elderly, versus the cost.

Most workers sense that they’ll be worse off under such a system, but that their companies and our state, local and federal governments will ALL be much better off!

Almost overnight, American businesses will become more profitable and competitive in the global market. That would mean, American workers would become significantly more productive within the global labor pool, which should mean more job creation. Likewise, our state, local and federal governments will be able to shed BILLIONS each year in healthcare premiums it now pays for its workers and insurance companies will reap a huge bonanza in hawking the needed gap-insurance, for those who want to avoid the rationing and restrictions of the public option. It's a veritable WIN-WIN-WIN, for everyone EXCEPT the working taxpayers of this country. They get to pay MORE, for LESS care.

With the great boom this will be to BOTH big business and the government, the only strange thing about universal healthcare is, why it’s taken so long for it to be implemented.


Linda said...

I think most Americans would be willing to give this healthcare package a chance to work, IF the congress would accept it for themselves too. We know that isn't going to happen. The only problem with giving it a chance is that we wouldn't be able to go back.

JMK said...

That's the mantra Linda...."We can't go back."

As if we can't reneg on promises made, but that happens all the time. Look at the way contracts are dealt with in recent years. It started out, or at least was most visible, initially with sports contracts, where either side, the player or the team would demand to renegotiate a contract or simply "buy out" of an existing contract at a much lower than negotiated price.

Should we face yet another bout of STAGFLATION (double digit interest, unemployment and inflation rates) we'll be facing, what is often called "the scope" in a collective bargaining sense.

In "the scope," EVERYTHING, even those not up for negotiation prior to the CB process being invoked, is on the table.

Unemployment is sadly ALREADY virtually there at 9.7%

With the DEFICIT now quadrupled and the resulting debt exploding (the National Debt is projected to top 85% of GDP as early as 2015), both interest rates AND inflation will be pressurized UPWARDS.

We could very easily see something very close to a Carter Redux by 2015, if not before....should that happen, EVERYTHING will be on the table.

Conservatives and Liberatarians will be rubbing their hands in glee at the prospect of dismantling the entire Liberal social contract back to the "Great Society" if NOT the "New Deal."

I think we can all understand businesses wanting to jettison the costs of their employees healthcare, but the people are largely resistant because they know the deal being offered, "Give up your employer paid heatlhcare in exchange for a severely rationed and tightly restricted public option....and you can purchase the insurance needed to circumvent all those new restrictions and rationing."

Most people KNOW that's NOT a "good deal" for them and they balk at covering illegal immigrants. Rasmussen reports that over 80% of Americans want to see proof of citizenship demanded in exchange for any universal healthcare coverage.

And your right, we're NEVER going to see the political class accept the healthcare screw job they're looking to ram down the public's throat.

Attorneymom said...

So what is your solution to the healthcare crisis??

JMK said...

I thought I made that clear!

I support the public option....with very tight restrictions and strict rationing of care.

First, it would free up American businesses from an existing cost that is harming their international competitiveness, second it would make the American workforce much more productive and cost-effective and thus more appealing to the rest of the world's employers and third it would eradicate all that untaxed compensation that every worker covered by an existing employer-policy gets each year.

Cost-effectiveness is key to such a deal.

We do NEED to accept reality...the existing "public options" (Medicare and ESPECIALLY Medicaid) are bankrupting this country because they're far too generous.

So long as a new and expanded (and severely rationed and restricted) public option is made available ALONG WITH the option of buying private health insurance that'll circumvent all that nasty rationing and restrictions, those who CAN and WANT TO will purchase that supplemental insurance (a huge windfall for insurers) and those who can't or don't will probably be given pain pills over more advanced and expensive treatments.

We simply HAVE to face reality.

On that score, Obama's seeking to CUT $500 BILLION from Medicaid and Medicare is a "good start," although hardly enough and the administration's suggestion of fining those who opt out of company insurance as much as $4,000 per year is another good idea....BUT ultimately we must focus on the health of our businesses and industries and that WILL REQUIRE a heavily rationed and tightly restricted public option that'll serve to free business and government (from state and locals to the fed) from being responsible for a cost that we, as individuals should've been bearing all along.


Skunkfeathers said...

One part of the solution is TORT REFORM. The more, the better. That alone will give cost increases some relief.

The rest is choice and competition.

JMK said...

I agree SF....tort reform IS one way to seriously reduce the cost of healthcare in this country, BUT expecting the lawyer/legislator - the primary and most corrupt conflict of interest inherant to our system - to change rules designed to benefit themselves at everyone else's expense appears futile.

Like the income tax, the scourge of the lawyer/legislator is one of the most basic things in need of reform.

Given that we have insisted that being civilized" means accepting some sort of basic or at least minimal "group responsibility" (I'd contend that there's nothing really civilized about that), I WOULD indeed support some form of bare bones public option, an expanded Medicare, if you will, complete with tight restrictions (maybe four to six free visits per year) and rationed care.

Would it suck?

Without question.

BUT, it would, in some ways return us to some basic form of self-responsibility....if done right. That is, with private insurance necessary to avoid the restricitons and rationing that would have to come with the public option, those both able and willing to afford he premiums on those gap insurance policies (that would almost certainly be the best and brightest, the most prosperous and those who plan ahead for life's eventualities) WOULD avert the restrictions and rationing of care, while those unable or unwilling (the least productive and the most reckless and irresponsible among us) would NOT.

The former group would have access to the most advanced care, while the latter would be given an option equialent to "the pain pill."

If done that way, the least productive and most reckless and irresponsible Americans would be the ones most likely to bear the brunt of that system's negative impact....THAT would be one of the few NON-dysgenic programs to have come down the pike in eons.

There was a time when America needed a lot of low-skilled, money-motivated poor people who were poorly educated, often personally reckless and irresponsible and only motivated to work when very short on money to do the mining and factory jobs we had an over-abundance of.

Those days are mining requires education and specific skill sets and there's a LOT less factory work and what little there is, now-a-days, tends to require more specified training and specific skill sets as well, so we simply don't need, nor have any place for such people any more, so the right kind of public option might be just what ails us at this point.

One thing's for sure, we can't afford the looming $7 TRILLION hole that is fast becoming Medicaid!

JMK said...

There are those who'll say the tax burden for even such a bare bones program will be exhorbidant...maybe so, but HIGHER tax rates always result in LOWER tax revenues as when rates go up, more of the higher income earners (and the top 10% of American wage-earners pay over 72% of all income taxes) defer more of their incomes tax deferred, thereby significantly REDUCING tax revenues overall.

Perhaps such a move would spur a widespread movement to finally fundamentally change our tax system - perhaps to the FAIR TAX(?)

Moreover, with businesses free of the healthcare burden, American industry would gain a HUGE competitive advantage in the global economy and global demand for the now newly efficient and even more highly productive American workforce would rise too....and wage increases would certainly follow that surging demand.

In short, more productive Americans would ultimately be able to afford what they have now plus the newly needed gap insurance to avoid the restrictions and rationed care that will HAVE to come with a basic/bare bones public option, in order to avoid "the tragedy of the commons" (the inevitable overuse of any free service or commodity).

Such a program would delibertely, or not, target the poor, the indolent & slothful and the reckless & irresponsible for veritable extinction, via this new limited access to advancd and more expensive care.

Oh and yes, I do agree with the over 80% of those polled in the latest Rasmussen poll that would demand that proof of citizenship be a prerequisite for being available for the public option.....althouh we'd have to pass new laws that would strictly limit the medical services that could be offered o anyone without insurance.

Skunkfeathers said...

I'm all for the FAIR Tax, and enacted along with desperately-needed tort reform, money would be there for substantive health care reform that uses the best of the free market, and keeps the worst of socialism -- government takeover -- out of where government has no right to be in a constitutional republic founded on democratic principles.

I remember a joke from years ago...the military had devised a new nuclear bomb that would not only bring an end to warfare in one fell swoop, but it would pave the way for an advance of civilization never before seen by Man. It wouldn't hurt buildings, plants, animals, insects, bespoil water or other natural resources.

It would only eradicate lawyers.

Rachel said...

I think most Americans would be willing to give this healthcare package a chance to work, IF the congress would accept it for themselves too.

Very true. Such hypocrisy is too obvious for even the liberalist liberal.

Rachel said...

I support the public option....with very tight restrictions and strict rationing of care.

First, it would free up American businesses from an existing cost that is harming their international competitiveness, second it would make the American workforce much more productive and cost-effective and thus more appealing to the rest of the world's employers and third it would eradicate all that untaxed compensation that every worker covered by an existing employer-policy gets each year.

That's assuming that we have enough physicians and support in the country. If the govt requires docs and nurses to take on lots more patients, there will be no need for gap insurance as there will be extremely few doctors who can take on such loads.
Also, will the government allow insurance to sell such gap insurance? The bill seems to punish insurance rather than entice them

JMK said...

"That's assuming that we have enough physicians and support in the country. If the govt requires docs and nurses to take on lots more patients, there will be no need for gap insurance as there will be extremely few doctors who can take on such loads." (Rachel)
That's a great...and very frightening point, Rachel. So is the one that Juan Williams made that goes, “Adding another 40 million people to the government's healthcare won't reduce waste and fraud, it'll increase waste and fraud AND the projected costs.”

Worse still, the top 10% of income earners are overtaxed, as it is. They currently collect 47% of the aggregate income and pay over 70% of the income taxes. ANY new revenues will HAVE TO come out of the hides of those in the "vast middle" - those earning over $48,000 and under $115,000 per year.

Moreover, higher tax rates DECREASE tax revenues, as more of those in that top 10% DEFER more of their income in tax-deferred vehicles when tax rtes rise and take more upfront when they fall.

With the group paying over 70% of all income taxes doing that, it's unlikely that anything but a draconian tax increase (perhaps a VAT) would possibly raise enough money, but a HUGE social and safety cost.

As to, “will the government allow insurance to sell such gap insurance?"....well, the House Bill was written almost entirely by lobbyists from BIG Pharma and the insurance companies, and both the Blue Dogs and the Republicans would almost certainly seem to demand that option.

Here's all you need to know about America's "broken" healthcare system, in the USA those who get early detected prostate, breast or colon cancer have a virtual 100% survival rate, in England (the most efficient government-run single-payer plan) the rate is 77%.

Ironically enough a sizable majority (over 60%) of Brits want out from their government-run program.

Go figure.

tk3soj said...

Anti Cancer pills exist?

JMK said...

"Anti Cancer pills exist?" (tk3soj)
You never heard of Chemotherapy?

Chemo is delivered by several means...including pill form.

But the FACT....the undeniable fact that in America people with early-detected prostate, breast and colon cancer have a virtual 100% survival rate, which when compared to the next best rate (in England 77% of early-detected breast, prostate and colon cancers survive) is significantly better.

The problem is that we can no longer afford to give that level of care away.

With a strictly rationed and tightly restricted expanded public option, those who produce the most (and thus earn the most) would be able to afford and would more likely purchase the supplemental insurance needed to bypass all that rationing.

That would make that one of the most NON-dysgenic programs America's ever instituted....which is why I support that, despite some reservations.

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