June 29, 2007

What not to do when fixing the health care system

California Nurses Shum has a great diary about how SickO is changing the American landscape. Nurses all over the country are organizing to get one million nurses to the opening on Friday.

The Health Care crisis provides Americans the best opportunity in decades for getting our country back on track if we are able to fix the health-care system in a way that truly fixes the problem. Because the system we have is so bad, everyone agrees that something must be done. Yet, the question continues to be: how? Will we get more "free-market" solutions that are designed to suck up more and more of our dollars so that the ultra-wealthy can get richer on our pain while doing little to solve the real problem?

So what's wrong with the solutions being touted these days? Here's my argument about why the "conservative solution" just won't work (from a comment I left on her post).

I've been thinking a lot about what are some of the problems with the so-called free market solution (as Schwarzeneggar and ole Mitt Romney advocate) which is supposed to "fix" the problem. Indeed, my governor has flatly said he will *never* support a government solution because the government is totally incapable of doing anything right.

But the problem with their "solution" is it actually creates a huge government regulatory system because it creates all kinds of mandates on employers and on individuals.

In order to keep the employee-based insurance (locking people into jobs they hate), employers are going to have to pay for insurance or into an insurance fund - and so you have to have auditors to track down whether they are doing that. Every individual will have to be checked to see that they have gotten insurance either through their job or because they bought it themselves. If they don't buy insurance they will have to be punished. In Massachusetts the state is planning to withhold the tax returns for scofflaws - and if that doesn't work, perhaps they will start to garnish peoples wages and if people still refuse to buy insurance, perhaps the government will have to throw them in jail.

And then there is the regulatory system that has to be put in place to make sure insurance companies cover sick people. Because otherwise if they don't have a mandate to cover sick people, the state will have to pick up the bag and pretty soon, the insurance companies will be covering only well people while racking in a profit and the state will be covering only the sick people. Guess what happens to our healthcare costs then?

As far as I can see it, the "free-market" solution only works if they add a huge bureaucracy and lots of mandates while wasting tons and tons of money.

Too bad the small government party is so committed to massive waste and intrusive government regulations.

Insurance works because lots of people are paying their small share into a common pool. The bigger the pool, the less everyone has to pay to cover those who need to draw from the pool. This is why fire insurance works - because only a few people have a fire claim each year, the amount everyone pays to get fire insurance is minimal.

The smaller the pool or the more people that have to draw from that pool, the more everyone has to pay to keep it whole. Our best solution to the health care crisis is to have every American part of the pool, because then we will have the lowest possible cost to provide universal health care which even conservatives are finally admitting is the only way to keep the health care costs from bankrupting American companies, our states and American families.

Guerrilla Marketing 101

Michael Moore did it again: he had a special opening of SickO on Skid Row in LA. And his audience were all people who would get more from a health care industry that focused more on providing health care rather than denying care or facing going bankrupt. As would we all.

h/t to scarce

Last, but not least: Sign the Petition.

Posted by Mary at June 29, 2007 01:33 AM | Health/Medicine/Health Care | Technorati links |

Check out thiz site for comments on health care and much more.

Posted by: Quinn at June 29, 2007 05:50 PM

I would like to to make two points in general about this topic, not about your comments:

First, universal healthcare would not be FREE, it would be pulled from our taxes, and the healthy or lower middle class would be hit the hardest with the tax.

Second, what about the individuals who pay for their Dr. bills without insurance or those who choose to use alternative care, such as chiroprators, homeopathic, and/or acupuncture? These individuals would be paying twice the amount for healthcare.

Last time I checked we had a right to choose when it comes to personal matters, and healthcare is personal.

It is because of health insurance that a Dr.'s visit is expensive, it is because of health insurance that a tissue in the hospital costs $50.00.

It shouldn't come down to a choice between eating and paying for an individual policy that will not cover any illness, we must remember that a premium that costs $100 + a month, per person, on top of a deductible over $5000 per person is as much as housing costs. (I sold health insurance at one time and this is the cheapest policy and it does not cover anything, no preventative care, no prescription, only if your dying and thats alot for someone just starting out or has a family)

Before any mandate can be enacted the cost of health care itself MUST be fixed!!

We must stop thinking of ourselves and what we can get for "free" and start cleaning out the corruption. If health care WAS affordable there would be no cause for insurance or mandates. But then again the politicians need someone to pad their pockets (health insurance and drug companies)

A side note why is the cost of an education, food, transportation, housing, and utilities going up but our income is decreasing in comparison? Do you really think that adding another penalty to the american public will appease us?

Posted by: sutemos at July 3, 2007 11:10 AM

Cute faux populist argument there. Our costs for healthcare are higher than in any of the countries that have some sort of national healthcare service, whether France's single-payer or Germany's overlapping networks of insurance pools.

It isn't 'freedom' to have to know every day that if you should get hit by a car or have a tooth infection or need an unexpected surgery or need to go to the emergency room, that you could be facing medical bills that could bankrupt you in a span of days. And that's even if you have health insurance, but the crappy kind, which is the kind most people have.

We all, right now, pay an enormous price for our current system. We pay it in terms of people with chronic diseases who are less productive than they would be without proper care. We pay it in terms of the burden of fear that millions of Americans carry about being either insufficiently covered or not covered at all. We pay it in terms of footing the bill for expensive emergency care that could have been avoided by ongoing access to preventive care.

Universal care costs less than what we're all, collectively, paying right now. And there's no reason not to means test it and reduce the burden on lower income people. Yet when businesses are facing double digit yearly rises in premiums and increasing numbers of businesses have to stop offering health coverage altogether, you can believe that it's costing us a lot individually, as well.

Posted by: natasha at July 3, 2007 02:21 PM