Posted by: nhfalcon | July 31, 2009

I Am Not A Doctor…

but that’s not going to stop me from throwing my two cents’ worth in on this health care thing.

Disclaimer # 1: this is easier for me to talk about than many because it’s all theory for me. I don’t have a vested interest in how the health care system currently works. I’m not going through what people like Mrs. Chili and Mike are going through and/or have gone through. I don’t have a relative dealing with a critical injury or illness, nor am I dealing with one myself. I freely admit that this is all hypothetical to me.

Disclaimer # 2: I don’t think the health care system as it currently operates is perfect. I don’t think anybody thinks that. I listen to Rush and Glenn Beck and others, watch FoxNews, and read right-wing websites, and I haven’t heard any of them say the system is perfect. I haven’t heard any of the GOP opponents to the current House bill say the system is perfect. A lot of them do say that the US health care system is the best in the world, and I believe that. But just because you’re the best doesn’t mean you can’t get better. It just means you could be a hell of a lot worse.

Nobody (that I’m aware of, anyway) is denying that the system could be better. Nobody is denying that it could stand to be tweaked, improved, refined, or reformed. This House bill, however, is not tweaking, improving, refining, or reforming.

Disclaimer # 3: I don’t have any answers. That’s the question I often get when I discuss this topic: “Well, if the House bill isn’t the answer, what is?” I don’t know. I’m not a doctor or a nurse. I don’t work for a health insurance company, and I never have. I’m not a politician. So I don’t know what the answer is.

I feel very strongly, however, that “Obamacare” is not the answer!

Why?

That answer is threefold:

1) It costs way, way, WAY too much!!! A trillion dollars?! Do we have $1 trillion? Is anybody going to loan us $1 trillion? How are we going to pay for all of this? Don’t forget, we still have to pay for the $787 billion stimulus plan. Don’t forget, Cap & Trade is going to cost us, too (if it goes through). As far as Obamacare goes, raising taxes on the rich (don’t get me started…) is only going to cover $500 billion (in theory).

I think part of the problem is that people simply cannot comprehend how large a number one trillion is. Let me try to put it into perspective: a billion seconds ago it was 1959. A billion minutes ago Jesus was alive. A billion hours ago it was the Stone Age. A billion days ago no one on earth walked on two legs.*

(* – I got those numbers from an email my sister sent to me back in April of ’05. Who knows how old it was when it was originally composed)

Now multiply those numbers by a thousand!

A trillion days ago was 2 billion, seven hundred-and-thirty-nine million, seven-hundred-and-twenty-six thousand, and twenty-seven years ago. Do you realize how long ago that was? Humanity hadn’t evolved yet. Mammals hadn’t evolved yet. The dinosaurs hadn’t evolved yet.

The earth’s atmosphere hadn’t even oxygenated yet! 

Does that give you an idea how big a number one trillion is?

The cost is indicative of the enormity of the bill. It’s over 1,000 pages long. It’s written in legalese/bureaucratic/gobbledeygook/psychobabble/doublespeak. Even some of the people being asked to vote on it don’t see the point in trying to read it. Most of them haven’t. Hell, it hasn’t even been completely written yet. What has been written, however, is clearly not a “reform” of the current system. This is not tweaking, improving, refining, or reforming.

This is rebuilding. This is “rip it down, raze it to the ground, and build something completely new in its place in our image.”

And it is unnecessary.

2) Basic principles of American life will be ignored by this bill. For example, if I as an individual choose not to have any health insurance, I will be fined by the federal government to the tune of 2.5% of my gross income.

Freedom of choice? What’s that?

I can hear two arguments forming on your lips already. “Well, you have to have auto insurance, don’t you? But you don’t have a problem with that, do you?”

Actually, yes, I do.

“Well, you’d be an idiot to not have health insurace.”

Yes, I may very well be an idiot to not have health insurance, but it should be my choice. It’s called personal responsibility. I don’t care what the topic is. Do the research, gather the information, and then make an informed choice based on that data. Most importantly, then be ready to accept the consequences of that choice.

Obama insists that you will be able to keep your current insurance provider and your doctor. Yes, you will. However, after this bill goes into effect, if for whatever reason you should want or have to change insurance providers (say, due to a job change. And let’s be honest, in this day and age, who honestly believes they’re going to keep – or even be able to keep – their current job until they retire?), the only option you will have will be the government-provided option.

Freedom of choice? What’s that?

Want more evidence of the losses of freedom of choice this bill will hit you with? Read this (note that this is an article from CNN, not some “loony right-wing nutjob” site).

Want to know where Senator Barney Frank thinks this bill will lead us to? Watch this.

Freedom of choice? What’s that?

I find it interesting that there are people out there screaming about not being willing to sacrifice their some of their freedoms for national security, but apparently are willing to sacrifice some of them for cheaper health insurance.

Basic economics dictates that this bill will be the death-knell of the private sector health insurance industry. The government will simply be able to undersell the private insurers.

“Well, Falcon,” you may say, “That’s just the free-market capitalist economy you love so much in action, isn’t it? What’s the matter, you don’t like it when it doesn’t work for you?”

Ah, but it’s not really the free-market system in action. Why not? Well, to use a term liberals love to use so much, this situation isn’t “fair.” The playing field isn’t level. See, free-market economics is based on an equality – the equality of opportunity. The opportunity to be competitive in pricing will not be equal between the government and private insurers because the government doesn’t have to turn a profit in order to stay in business.

3) The desperation (and that is really the only word I can think of to use here) with which Obama wants to pass this bill just scares the hell out of me. Why? Why are you so desperate to get this through RIGHT NOW! No, better – YESTERDAY! Doesn’t common sense dictate that something this massive, complex, and expensive is something that should be researched carefully? That due diligence should be exercised before somebody decides whether or not to vote for it? My understanding is that even if the bill passes it won’t take effect until 2013, so I’ll ask again – why the desperation to get it done now?

I have to add that I’m seeing a pattern here, too. Remember, Obama was similarly desperate to get the stimulus through. He got his wish. He told us unemployment would never rise above 8%. He said by June we’d save or create somewhere between three or four million jobs. When that didn’t happen, he backtracked and said something along the lines of, “Well, the stimulus wasn’t meant to be a six-month plan. It was meant to be a two-year plan.” Well, if it really wasn’t going to go into effect for two years, why the rush to push it through?

Can I get all conspiracy-theorist on you for a second?

Two years, huh? Two years… Hmmm… What else is coming up in two years… Oh, yeah! The Congressional elections! “Hey, if this this stimulus thing really does work, and we time it so that it starts working right around the 2010 Congressional elections, those Republicans won’t have a chance to get control of the Senate and the House back. But we got to get it through now…”

Radical? Yes. Unlikely? Yes.

Completely out of the realm of possibility… ? 

Why the rush to jam this health care bill down our throats? Forgive me for being cynical in regards to anything our government does for us (R or D), but this desperation just begs me to ask: What don’t you want us to see until it’s too late?

One final note – you know what I’d like to see? I’d like to see somebody come up with an easy-to-understand visual breakdown of where the cost of the current health care system comes from. Say a pie graph using a hypothetical situation: “OK, Medical Procedure X costs $100. Now, how much of that $100 comes from the evil doctor being greedy? The evil hospital being greedy? The evil insurance company being greedy? The evil pharmaceutical company being greedy? The need to compensate for some Americans choosing to not have health insurance? The need to compensate for illegal aliens being treated who don’t have insurance? The need to compensate for having to have malpractice insurance? The need to have to have the pay schedule based on what MediCare and MediAid dictate rather than letting the market do so?”

Am I leaving anything out that should be in that graph?

Anybody know where I could find such a graph?

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Responses

  1. I’ve decided that I am going to read the bill. So far, I am on about page 75. These are the things I’ve discovered:

    1. there is going to be a giant bureaucracy responsible for the deciding of what will and won’t be required to be covered. They will also take applications from private insurance plans to be one of the QHBPs (Qualified Health Benefit Plans) all Americans will be required to choose from. An insurance plan can be kick-ass, cover everything you need but if it leaves out coverage for contact lenses, they won’t be approved to be one of the approved set. Of course the public plan will be the cheapest and will reimburse the least to doctors.

    2. This bureaucracy will be lead by the “Ombudsman’s office.” The Ombudsman will receive AND DECIDE ON ALL appeals on delined procedures. People, we are talking about 1 ginormous agency to process ALL the paperwork on any issue that someone is told no or a partial maybe to. Does anyone think this won’t take years? Does anyone know how long audits are backlogged at the IRS?

    3. National “health” Id card.

    4. What is and is not “heath care” is not defined (so far, give me time). But on page 28 on of the things that is mentioned is providing medical equipment, prosthetics and other sorts of items needed for correction of a problem. The language indicates that this would cover vision correction. My concern here is are contacts necessary? No. Is nearly everyone going to want them? Yes.

    That’s all for today. Mind you. Page 75 is all I’ve read through.

  2. OH! PS – an episode of 20/20 on ABC (not right wing tv) about what this overhaul will do to invention and innovation in the medical field.

  3. Wow! You are far more ambitious (sp?) than I. How can you decipher all that legalese?

    Speaking of which, can you tell me whether or not the provision that starts on page 16 (Provision 102, I believe it is) basically does, in fact, make private insurance illegal or otherwise inaccessible?

    Thanx!

  4. As far as I can tell, it does not make private health insurance illegal. It does these things:

    a. you can keep your current health insurance (grandfathered plan) unless it is a restrictive plan (something that only covers specialized things – I am thinking like a cancer-only or surgery-only sort of plan.) You can use those only as supplemental to a QHBP

    b. the current insurance cannot enroll new members

    (So if you have to change jobs, you lose it and can never get it back. You will have to opt for one of the QHBPs).

  5. PS – your assessment is correct in that they are trying to ram this through before anyone can legitimately study it. And by anyone, I mean congresspeople and/or their constituents (who are not reading the damn thing anyway…)


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