Obama-Care and the American Experiment

tall-stack-of-cash.-thumb905141I’ve got some thoughts on the issue of government sponsored healthcare. I’m also aware that I’m far from alone in having an opinion in the matter. But maybe the parts of this conversation that I would choose to dispute aren’t the ones that we hear as much about. Maybe. To be honest, I don’t know. I’ve got zero statistics, I’ve done minimum research into the matter, and I’m a long ways from being a  journalist. Just some scattered thoughts.

My feeling all along is that the current administration would use this whole thing only as a platform for election; that the Democrats would rally around it for a period time; and then once it came time for the rubber to meet the road the collective reaction would be, “Wow there’s no way we can pay for this.” This is yet to be seen even though it does appear that many are losing stomach over it and President Obama’s approval ratings continue to go down, primarily, because of this single issue.

Hopefully we can agree that there is a basis for helping people—a biblical basis. Jeremiah 22:16 and John 21:16 both identify meeting the needs of people as something to be commended, if not expected, in God’s eyes: “He made sure justice and help were given to the poor and needy, and everything went well for him. Isn’t that what it means to know me?” Through Jeremiah God is telling His people through the prophet why He favored King Josiah.

Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.” “Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said. John 21:16

In the passage from John above Jesus is essentially directing the church to do likewise: “take care of the people.” The point here is that we should be helping people. We the people have an obligation to our fellow men. So this isn’t the issue. The issue is pretty simple: is this a place where our government should intercede.

So here we go. This is the editorial part. The sliver of this conversation that continues to bother me is the sentiment that we “deserve quality healthcare.” Really? Admittedly, making this idea a part of the collective vernacular is a masterstroke. Who wants to say that people don’t deserve something. These days that’s just un-American. I’ve caught myself repeating “we all deserve quality healthcare”, only recently stopping to think about what it was I was really saying. Do I really “deserve” quality healthcare? Does anybody? And what do we mean by “quality”? Is this something the US government owes me as a citizen?

And then there’s the escalating costs. Really, healthcare costs are through the roof. I pay into this big pot … and then continue to pay. And it goes up every year—for everybody! A lot. But is it really because of a lack of competition within the industry? I understand the argument about competition and, granted, what we’ve got is not without flaw. And I don’t disagree. I pay the high costs like anyone else. But I just can’t get on board with the thinking that the government can or should tackle it—that it can make it better. The effectiveness and ineffectiveness of this measure is one thing, but you want to talk about out-of-control costs. In that regard government healthcare has disaster written all over it.

However if you don’t think that our healthcare system is already socialized, think again. My insurance dictates what the doctor receives as compensation for the care I receive. Insurance premiums are high in part of because so many of us do whatever we want to do, don’t do the things we need to do, eat everything under the sun, and then get a prescription that corrects all their problems. But we all pay for it. Personal accountability, or lack of it, is a significant contributor to the high costs we all pay. More affordable healthcare options could possibly only enable this cultural trend.

Regardless, there’s merit to the “many” taking care of the “few” approach to healthcare. But that’s just it, isn’t it. This responsibility is not the government’s responsibility. Or at least it wouldn’t seem like it to me. But if “we” are not going to contribute of our own volition; rather, continue to feed ourselves more than we need, practice our consumeristic tendencies, and withdraw more and more into ourselves—if we abdicate the responsibility—then maybe it is the government’s responsibility. That’s a point of tension for me since the government has never had incentive to be efficient (but  in their defense it wasn’t created to run this sort of thing, either). Despite the fact that we have what is probably the greatest form of governing ever, government-run health insurance is not why it was formed. Essentially, this move would be contrary to the Spirit of ’76 and what we intended in the word “American.”

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2 thoughts on “Obama-Care and the American Experiment

  1. Interesting post. The cost issue is really the main issue in all this. They are talking about a public plan or co-op. But there are some built in structural problems with either approach. And thet is the long term cost trend of healthcare. So let’s take the co-op as an example. There are a couple of assumptions in lowering the cost by allowing interstate competition. First state mandates have to be removed. Will they? What about premium taxes? (3-4% of the admninistrative difference often quoted between the VA and private insurance is due to premium taxes)

    At the start, there might be a slowing of health care costs (that’s why they only project for the first 10 years). Once you wring out some of the administrative waste, promote competition, etc. you get back to the core issue — health care trend is 2-3 times that of general inflation or revenue and wage growth.

    Unit price increases are about 1/3 of the increase, increasing utilizatin if the other 2/3. We can do more to help people and they are living longer.

    Controlling health care costs, keeping innovations and medical advances coming, avoiding rationing of care for the elderly and not imposing wage and price controls may be objectives that are not attainable.

    Follow the debate and other health care delivery issues at http://www.ilovebenefits.wordpress.com

  2. As a foreigner, I cannot understand why Americans cannot wrap their heads around gov’t healthcare. In my counrty I constantly have to deal with the evils of corporate care seeping in and degrading care. It is the for profit agencies that come in (from the US) and lower wages to frontline healthcare workers(nurses, physio, PSW, etc), cut corners on cleaning, and supplies, and use these “effiencies” as a way of proping up executive salaries and fees collected (oddly enough from the gov’t). The for profits that operate have an administrative waste of expensive boards of directors/executives and shareholders to pay rather the non-profits who need work their budget in the frame of what the gov’t will pay per service.

    The real cause of the healthcare crisis in my country is a lack of qualified professionals and an aging population. American companies are trying to persuade politicians to create a for profit network which would only exacerbate the the lack of access/wait times for the majority while allowing access to the elite few who can afford it (the real solutions would be scholarships/incentives for students to go into healthcare and better recognizing foreign professionals).

    If the US could finally be smart enough to join the rest of the civilized world in having public healthcare, they would save not just Americans but other nations of having to deal with the economic bottom line instead of triage dictating care. As for the the comments of spirit of ’76, your country was never supposed to have a military (since militaries get used to suppress the populace it also makes Americans have now-anachronistic right to bear arms) and yet the US has an extremely large military.

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