Sunday, May 31, 2009

Single Payer Alone is Not the Best Option

Maggie Mahar changed my mind about the single-payer option.
I still have a bad attitude about private insurance, but not as bad as it was.

We have no way of knowing who will be the majority leaders in Congress ten years from now—or who will be in the White House. It’s not a stretch to assume that if legislators are willing to ban abortion for federal employees they might refuse to cover it in a single-payer health plan that covered the entire nation..

In the first budget that he sent to Congress President George W. Bush even tried to remove contraception from a list of products covered by FEHB. If Jed Bush became president would he nix covering contraception under a single payer insurance plan? (Remember Governor Bush’s role in the Karen Schiavo case) Or maybe he would only ban contraception for women who aren’t married. I don’t want to find out.

Of course, even if we had single-payer national health insurance, it’s likely that private sector insurers would sell “supplemental policies” –covering extras that aren’t included in the government plan. Perhaps private insurers would offer abortion insurance-- for those who could afford a supplemental policy—assuming that those insurance companies weren’t too squeamish about bomb threats. If Congress refused to include abortion in a national plan, I have to think that anyone trying to sell what would quickly be labeled “abortion insurance” would become a special target.

As regular readers know, I firmly believe that President Obama’s hybrid plan for universal coverage should include a government plan that is modeled on a new, improved and reformed version of Medicare. And I am quite sure that this Congress will include contraception in any government plan. . (I doubt President Obama would sign the plan if they didn’t. But I wonder—will government health insurance cover abortion?)


Anonymous said...

One criticism of 'health care' charities in general: That industry has become one of the most profitable of all time. It already accounts for about 15% of our GDP. The industry as a whole can easily afford to cover its own research and development. Still, it lobbies for billions in government funding, tax breaks, and 'charitable' contributions. It affiliates with hundreds of public figures who 'raise funds' from ordinary people specifically for that industry in the name of 'humanity'. In other words, we are paying for a portion of their research and development. In return, they sell any 'breakthrough' made right back to us for MAXIMUM PROFIT. Their charges remain absolutely OBSCENE. They have been for years. So incredibly high, that thousands of families have already gone bankrupt as a direct result of health care expenses. Thousands of retirees have already had to 'reverse mortgage' their homes to pay for it. The average American is now losing sleep over health care expenses. Medicare and Medicaid are both projected to go bankrupt. Of course, the industry tries to cover for this injustice with one liners like "Today's drugs pay for tomorrow's miracles.". They also 'give back' a little just like every other industry and seek maximum publicity for it. Its a sham in my book. We don't need anymore 'good will' for or on the part of that industry. We need affordable health care in general. THAT MEANS LOWER PROFIT MARGINS. Along with fewer unnecessary tests, procedures, and pharmaceuticals. Of course, some of the work done is legitimate. But that holds true even for the government. Here is the problem. ITS GONE TOO FAR. Something must be done about this out of control 'drug and doctor' mentality. Otherwise, there will never, ever, EVER be affordable health care for the majority.

Hoots said...

This first "comment" is probably spam, triggered by my post title and put into the system by a spam-bot. But I'm publishing it anyway because it is well-written and drives home a few excellent points about health care inflation.

I'm not sure what is meant by "health care charities." No particular group is named, but high-profile "public figures who 'raise funds' from ordinary people specifically for that industry in the name of 'humanity'" are mentioned. Could that mean the telethons or celebrity efforts to relieve disease or hunger in third-world countries? I dunno.

This much I know. So-called "not for profit" hospitals and other health care institutions are able to use that tax status in a manner that milks both the government and for-profit insurance companies for maximum revenue. There are few incentives for keeping costs down and many reasons to find more imaginative ways to send out bills to generate more income.