It’s time I addressed the US Healthcare issue.
Improving the healthcare system in the United States aught to be as easy as shooting fish in a barrel. We pay more per person than any other country in the world, despite the fact that we’re the only western nation in the world that doesn’t treat healthcare as a right. Put simply: We cover less people, yet pay twice as much. It is literally less expensive for me to import three bottles of Flonase from New Zealand than to go down the street and buy one bottle from Walgreens.
The problem is that, since we do spend so much more on healthcare than anyone else, it’s a massive part of our economy. Scraping what we have and starting over isn’t an option, when what we’d be scraping equates to a full sixth of the US economy. As a result, Barack Obama and congress have decided to come up with a lot of little proposals, roll them all into one big bill, and hope that solves the majority of our healthcare problems. The Insurance Exchange program, the various tax credits/subsidies/handouts, the various regulations being imposed on insurance companies, private employers, individuals…etc… The list is almost unending. But I think it’s worth a shot.
Libertarians insist that the reason healthcare is so bad is due to all the government intervention we already have. Republicans think it’s because of people exercising their legal right to seek retribution for perceived wrongs/damages. On any sort of macro level, neither of these assertions are backed up by either the states that have implemented tort reform already, or by the countries that have less government involvement in healthcare. The few specific benefits we have in our system over other countries (mostly involving drug research, and coverage for the wealthy) are outweighed by our inferior results on the macro level.
Many opponents of the various bills being proposed argue that these plans will eventually lead to a socialized single payer healthcare system. Lord, I wish it were true. Unfortunately, as proposed, even the “public option” would only be available through the Insurance Exchange (which most people wouldn’t have access to at all), and it wouldn’t be paid for with tax dollars. It would be far more akin to the US Postal Service than to Medicare, if the US Postal Service were only available to people physically incapable of delivering their own mail. I see no compelling evidence that the public options being proposed would come anywhere close to putting every other insurer out of business. Lord knows, I think that would be a good way of going about it: gradually expand a program like Medicare to eventually cover everyone, while slowly phasing out the necessity of private insurance companies.
There are a lot of things about the current plans that I don’t like. I don’t like the individual mandate. I don’t like the limitations placed on the public option (which may not even end up in the final bill at all). I don’t like how the Senate Finance committee has limited the Insurance Exchanges to be set up separately for each state (I think we aught to be able to choose from a national list of insurers, not just a state list)… I could go on.
But at the end of the day, I’m willing to give this a shot. The plan isn’t my ideal, and they’re mucking up the good ideas they originally had, but as things stand now, I have to import my Flonase from New Zealand, and that’s just retarded beyond anything congress has yet put forth on this issue.