Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Socially Awkward

Right now the House and Senate are looking to combine their versions of the Health Care Bill. These are scary times. I've been keeping a close eye on the debate since the summer. First off, let's look at what the bill does.

The only popular feature of the bill is that it makes it so insurance companies can no longer deny people for pre-existing conditions. This really made the insurance companies mad, and rightfully so. Imagine what that would mean if everyone could drop their insurance, wait til they got sick and then get insurance, rack up huge amounts of medical bills until they got better, then drop their insurance again, leaving insurance companies with the bill. So the insurance company fought back, threatening to cut campaign contributions to Democrats(who get huge amounts of money from them). The Dems panicked and rethought things. The insurance companies fund Republicans too, to keep them in check as well. Think about that for a second. Insurance companies give contributions to both Democrats and Republicans. They play both sides to guide law how they want it.

Anyways, so the Dems said ok, we'll keep the "no denying people based on pre-existing conditions" thing, but we'll make a law saying everyone has to have health care insurance or they pay a big fine. If they can't pay the fine, they go to jail. They give low income people lots of breaks and lots of loop holes to get out of having to pay the fines, but the fact remains that now all Americans are forced to buy a product from a company.

This is especially frightening considering that many states have only one or two insurance companies(monopolies are generally illegal, but by law, Health Insurance companies are exempt). Imagine if Coke, Pepsi, Snapple, etc, all merged into one company. They now own a monopoly on soft drinks and can charge as much as they want. Maybe most people will still pay $5 bucks for a soda, but if it went to $50 bucks, people would start drinking tea or water. Now imagine if the government forced you to buy soft drinks or you went to jail. I think people would spend $50 bucks for a soda to stay out of jail. Meanwhile, the hypothetical Cepsipple Soft Drink company gets filthy rich!

At this point in the bill insurance companies can massively raise their prices because people have to buy their product. They absolutely love the Democrats. The Dems are going to make health insurance companies rich!

The Republicans have a pretty brain numbingly simple fix for this. They want to make it so that health insurance companies can now compete against each other across state lines. After all, car insurance companies can. This would create a massive amount of competition. There's hundreds of health care insurance companies. Forcing them to all compete with each other, would drive down prices considerably. Not to mention the entertaining commercials. Can you imagine the next tv lizzard tell you that 15 minutes could save you 15% on your health care insurance? Or health care insurance is so easy, a cave man could do it! How about Flo, the Progressive insurance lady that has prescription drug coverage on isle three?

I used to own a couple websites. At first, there were only a couple providers and website domain names cost a hundred bucks or so. Webhosting was another $50 bucks a month or more. Then a bunch of other companies started doing it. Now you can get a domain name for $9 bucks, and hosting for a buck a month. Imagine how cheap health care insurance would be if the number of competing companies went from a couple to hundreds. Imagine the extra services they'd start to offer. After all, they have to make you happy or you can easily go to another company.

Why aren't the Democrats interested in that? Indeed, they won't even talk about it. Such a simple solution to their problem, but they avoid the subject like the plague. why? I even heard one congress woman dodge the question by making the ridiculous claim that competition would lead to rationing. Really? In what world does someone live on where they think companies skimp on services while trying to lure customers away from other companies?

Instead, to provide competition with insurance companies, they want to create a public option. This means the government creates it's own health care insurance company to compete with private insurance companies. History has shown that anything the government tries to run efficiently is a huge and costly disaster. Think of the three major postal service companies. Business is booming for the two privately run companies, but the government run post office is bankrupt. Why? You might say well, that's because people are emailing now instead of sending letters. Sure. But a privately run company would adapt to the times--only pick up/deliver mail twice a week, require people to come to their office, etc. There's certainly lots of ways a nimble private company could adapt and cut overhead. But consider that our government has been working on health care reform for 30 years and they're still not done--and what is done so far is overwhelmingly unpopular, I think that's pretty telling about to government's ability to do anything effectively.

So the public option is a really bad idea. It's clunky and clumsy. How could it adapt to fair market values in different regions in changing environments without being massively expensive? It really doesn't make sense that the Democrats would pick it over and obviously superior method such as what the Republicans are proposing. Not to mention, the public overwhelmingly supports bipartisanship with health care reform. The Democrat approval rating(along with Obama's) is slipping pretty fast. Obama's approval rating as dropped so much, so fast, that he is now the third fastest president in the history of our country to hit below 50% approval in less than one year in office. And he was massively popular when he was elected. This is the perfect opportunity for him and the other Dems to say, "We've considered the Republican proposal to allow insurance companies to compete across statelines, and it's a good idea. See America, we're coming together to make this a better country!" Cue patriotic theme music, American flags waving, and fireworks in the background for the finishing touch.

So it begs the question, why are Democrats simply not interested in that? Instead, they call the Republicans the party of no, blame them for being obstructionists despite the Dems having complete control over the government allowing them to do what ever they want. So why?

Ok, I'll tell you why. The reason is because the Democrats in Congress and the White House never cared about giving all Americans health care insurance in the first place. They don't care about bringing down costs. This has never been about helping people. Liberals are not interested in that. I know this is what they claim, but that's not what they want. They want socialized medicine, aka, a single payer system where everyone pays the government money and the government provides all health care insurance. They can't do that until they put all the privately run insurance companies out of business.

Now, if someone told me that, I'd think they're nuts. I mean, I know our government is shady at times, but I don't fall for conspiracy theories. But Obama has been clear on this. Consider his speech from 2003, before he was president...

Heh, ok, I got a little distracted looking up youtube videos. This is a good video though. It shows "The Plan," tricking the American people into accepting a "public option" long enough for the system to mortally wound private insurance companies so the government can take over health care.

Now, you might be thinking, "So what? Universal Healthcare isn't all that bad. How can you be against helping people and providing insurance for all." Or a better argument from socialized medicine, "We pay for it anyways. When people can't pay for hospital stays, the hospitals just pass the costs on to the rest of us anyways, so why not have a single payer system?"

I don't agree with that argument though it's certainly logically sound and one that should at least be considered. But in either case, shouldn't something so fundamentally massive as socialize medicine be talked about openly and honestly rather than like this? Personally, I think Obama and friends would have had much more success had they focused instead on cutting taxes on small businesses, let the bad banks fail so the good banks could take their place(which would have hurt a lot more in the short run, but been better in the long run once it was sorted out), and once the economy was stabilized, made a slow, steady case for Socialized Medicine and started a public debate. I don't agree with Socialism on any level, but there's certainly some positives in there. The fact that he had to be sneaky about it and lie to people, I think, says a lot.

In either case, I certainly haven't been happy with Republicans either lately. Republicans controlled both houses and the White house from 2000-2006 and despite having some pretty good ideas(school vouchers), did pretty much nothing useful. It would be nice to have some middle ground--free market solutions mixed with real reform. We need someone like Teddy Roosevelt--a Republican Progressionist that can get stuff done that people actually want done. So far, I haven't seen anyone running for 2012 yet that seems to fit that bill.

I'm not alone. In fact, less than 20% of Americans now consider themselves Republicans. This is why the Dems in Congress are pushing their unpopular healthcare bill. They don't think the Republicans have enough support to stop them. I guess time will tell.

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