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An Interview Regarding Health Care Reform
Kerplop: OK Hud, we have an economy in the fiscal toilet, so, while health insurance is a nice idea, under current budget constraints, isn’t this like the worse time ever to try to start such an expensive new government program?
Hudabatcher: There is never a good time, if you hate taxes, poor people, and the government. If you have any hint of compassion then now is a great time to implement real, significant health care reform.
Kerplop: But compassion is not cheap, and sometimes we just can’t afford to pay for stuff, even good stuff.
Hudabatcher: We can afford it. The question is not CAN we afford to pay for health care. The question is only, are we willing to pay for health care. The question for business and fiscal conservatives is this: is health care for everyone worth the cost, and is it right to force people who to pay for something they don’t want to pay for.
Kerplop: Right! I mean, is universal health care some sort of right?
Hudabatcher: If it is not a right, it should be.
Kerplop: Says you.
Hudabatcher: But health coverage for all is not just a compassionate thing, it is a good idea for small businesses, and for the nation in general.
Kerplop: How so?
Hudabatcher: Entrepreneurs tend to be people who will take reasonable risks to better their lives. The problem is that a risk is only reasonable if you feel you have the skills to control things well enough to be successful. Starting a business may be a reasonable risk, but health is another matter. If something goes wrong, an illness or an accident, it is almost certain that you will NOT be able to control the costs of the illness, nor will you be able to fix yourself. Living without health insurance means you are vulnerable to a danger that is beyond your control.. If people knew the had health coverage “just in case” they would be more willing to take the entrepreneurial risks to start a small business, and small business is the key to economic growth in the United States.
Kerplop: Why should anyone, other than those who don't have no health insurance, be in favor of universal health insurance and the costs associated with that?
Hudabatcher: First, partly, it is the uncovered that drives up the cost of health coverage for everyone, including people who have insurance. Secondly, covering everyone in the country does not have to cost us more than the patchwork coverage that exists now. In 2003 the United States was spending twice as much, per person, for health coverage than what was being spent in Britain , Japan , Canada , France , and Germany . So in the US we are spending twice as much as other industrialized countries and only covering part of our people while they are covering ALL of their citizens.
The truth is we have to change they way we do health care in the United States . In 2006 the cost of health care here was $2.2 trillion, or 16.5% of our GDP (Gross Domestic Product). In 2015 that cost is projected to go up to 20% of our GDP . If something is not done now, we will soon live in a world were no business will be able to provide insurance for their employees, and the majority of US citizens will be without coverage of any kind.
Kerplop: Why am I not hearing more about this? Why are our legislators, especially our Republican legislators, for controlling medical costs and providing coverage for all of our citizens?
Hudabatcher: Because there are billions of dollars being spent to make sure this message does not get out! Between the years 1998 and 2007 the health insurance industry spent $2.2 billion dollars lobbying Congress against Health Care Reform.
Kerplop: But why should I, why should anyone, be forced to pay for health care for people we don’t know and people who, for all we know, could be living a risky life-style so that their expensive illnesses are their own fault?
Hudabatcher: It is easy to be callus and hard, and to turn you back on people you don’t know, have never seen, and probably will never ever meet. So instead of thinking about covering the health care for the millions of people you will never meet, think about your immediate family, your children, your grand children, your neighbors, your co-workers. Do you want to just say no and let people you know die a lingering painful death because you object to some bad habit they had when they were teenagers?
Kerplop: Sometimes life is a doodley-squat sandwich without the bread. Sad stuff happens. People, even people we know, do dumb stuff and they should have to face the consequences of their behavior.
Hudabatcher: For me, the consequences of having the disease are consequences enough. You are compounding the suffering. You are saying that a smoker should not only suffer for their stupid choice by getting lung cancer, but they should also have to die without treatment.
Kerplop: We already have a system that cares for all our seniors, called Medicare. Why can’t we just use that system and gradually let it cover Americans by slowly lowering the age you have to be to qualify for Medicare?
Hudabatcher: Well, you could, but that may not be the most cost effective way to cover all American citizens. You see, Medicare is sort of a slapped together system that started under the LBJ War on Poverty. Medicare is a very popular program now, among senior citizens. The coverage started out as being very meger and slowly, often with great political struggle, improvements were made to Medicare, but the system resembles a ship made out of welded together cans and household trash. If floats, but it’s not exactly the way you would want it to be if you were building a ship from scratch. One point that should be noted here is this: although Medicare has been hammered together it still floats, and it is still a popular program.
Kerplop: Isn’t there a lot of waste and fraudulent activity associated with Medicare?
Hudabatcher: There is waste and fraud associated with Medicare, but that has more to do with the patchwork development of the program and the long conservative love for loose or absent regulation. Had the program been created as a fully conceived program many of the loop-holes and gaps that lead to abuse would never have been there. On the other hand, even if there is abuse, waste, and fraud present within Medicare, that doesn’t make the health coverage bad, it just means that the loop-holes must be closed, and the system must be on guard against fraud.
I might also point out that there is waste and fraud in private business endeavors, and the proper reaction is to fix the problems not eliminate the enterprise.
Kerplop: If we have national health insurance won’t we have long delays to see doctors and receive services like operations?
Hudabatcher: Yes, sort of. In some countries with National Health Care there are delays in getting non-essential medical procedures. No one waits if the need for treatment is critical, but if you want a non-life threatening knee replacement operation, you may have to wait in line. But the fault for the wait is NOT because of national health insurance, the delay comes from the fact that right now million American’s are not allowed to get in line for medical treatment. If you excluded tens of millions of Canadians from access to medical treatment they would have no waiting either. The wait for non-essential medical treatment is an acceptable inconvenience when you get in exchange access to essential medical treatment for all citizens.
Kerplop: If universal health care is such a good idea, then why are so many US businesses so vigorously opposed to it? If national health care is cost-effective and provides better medical are to everyone wouldn’t having universal health care be a good thing for business?
Hudabatcher: It is a good thing for business, but it is also new, and new stuff is almost always scary stuff. Slowly, however, business is starting to realize that unless the government does something to address the health care crisis we are all going to suffer. Remember that both Canada and Germany have a socialized form of health care and that socialized medicine delivers good medical care at a lower cost to a large number of people, and the cost for that medical care is not hung around the neck of business.
Kerplop: Exactly how much to you think this universal health care stuff is going to cost our government, which is just another way of saying, how much is this going to cost the tax payer?
Hudabatcher: The Institute of Medicine part of the National Academy of Sciences, and this organization was asked to advise the Federal Government on the possible costs of national health care coverage. What they found out was that an increase of just 0.4% in what we are currently paying for health care would be enough to cover all health care expenses of the currently uninsured.
Kerplop: How is that possible?
Hudabatcher: It is possible because this figure does not include huge profits, benefits and salaries that are currently being siphoned off by UN-necessary middlemen such as the brokers, adjusters, claims agents, and executives with executive bonuses. And remember, with a single payer system, or a big federal system, we would have great bargaining power to ask for and receive lower costs from the pharmaceutical and hospital bureaucracies.
Kerplop: If health care is going to be provided through our government, wouldn’t we have to accept the idea that health care is a Right? Health care is NOT a right.
Hudabatcher: Then it should be. But actually, I think health care IS a right. Life has value. Most American’s believe we have a universal right to " life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness " and unless you are healthy you won’t long have any life, and if you are sick and denied treatment you sure as hell are not going to be in a position to pursue happiness.
Article submitted Saturday, June 13, 2009 & read 6963 times.
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