September 11, 2009
When Obama said he planned essentially to fine everybody who wouldn’t buy health insurance, was your first reaction to think “How is that fair?”
Here’s Jay Bookman of the Atlanta Journal, telling you how. Pay particular attention to the fact that an almost identical proposal was advanced by two Georgia Repubican legislators in 2007. And by Senator John McCain in his campaign for president.
All three are naturally against it now, their true aim being not to solve the health care problem, but to drive Obama from office in 2012.
Bookman’s explanation starts this way:
Let’s say you’re a 25-year-old healthy male who doesn’t feel it necessary to spend money on health insurance. You’d rather spend it on other things, such as beer and a hot new car. Suddenly, you blow out your knee in a game of touch football and need surgery you can’t afford…
Posted by Jerome Doolittle at September 11, 2009 07:21 PM
The eternal optimist here was looking for an intelligent discussion of the column in comments there. Someday I'll learn.
Anyway, my stand is that we can't require people to buy health insurance from for-profit corporations, which is why a viable public option is necessary.
Better yet is a single-payer program with premiums coming from income taxes or something along the Medicare for all option or Dean's suggestion of raising the S-CHIP age to 30 and lowering the Medicare age to 50 and bow gracefully to the 30-50 group's insistence on inclusion. But all these sensible options were thrown aside before the discussion began.
A single payer system along the lines of what they have in Canada makes sense. The Right insists that making participation in such a system mandatory would take away their freedoms. The freedom to be dependent on corporate overlords one assumes. Single payer would also make the U.S. more competitive in the world marketplace - a feature totally ignored.
A single payer system would free us and our employers not to worry about something as fundamental to life as health-care, but as one can see from the current debate, we cannot convince conservatives of that. Allowing people to participate in a public option, a kind of Medicare for everyone who chooses to participate is as close as we'll get because the argument is about what the Right and conservative Democrats believe and how they define freedom, not about what would be best.
The devil is always in the details. Individual mandates can be justified only insofar as they take social realities into account. I'm with Joyful on this.
I'm actually not opposed to more than one single payer plan, separated into different areas of the countries. One of the central themes of the plan is to reduce costs. What better way to do that than to have a group of doctors in area A competing with a group of doctors in Area B and so on. That way, if Area A is charging much higher charges and doing more tests than necessary, their pay can be reduced until they "get their costs in line". Of course, lifestyles would have to be taken into account. Those from areas with lots of smokers or citizens who partake of a great deal of chicken fried in good old fashioned Crisco might see more costs than those in say Seattle, where I once lived and saw a much more healthy eating style. And other environmental factors i.e. number of those who worked around asbestos. But if an area has unreasonably high costs due to some of the doctors doing unnecessary tests too often, the whole doctor's groups pay would be reduced considerably, thus placing pressure on the doctors in that area as well as businesses and people who pay the premiums to get the errant doctors or companies in line. So I'm not so enthused about just one single payer plan. Cost cutting will be the ultimate goal. And I think we will see some doctor's incomes reduced as a natural result of that, particularly those who will attempt to abuse the system. You might even see the AMA actually taking errant doctors to task and doling out real punishment, which they have resisted forever. But costs wouldn't be the only factor, healthiness would as well, which naturally reduces costs anyway.
So I'm not completely on board on single payer with Joyful, but I am on board in a general sense.
What Obama strives to achieve is something similar to the health care sytem which has been working very well in Germany for decades. And at considerable less cost than the actual American system ...
Hey. What's that moose doing in that guy's knee ?
Grazing, dummy. That's what they do.