Tuesday, March 23, 2010
The Facebooking of America
Watching the health care debate play out on Facebook is terrifying. It seems people are getting all their info on important issues from this site now. We now debate important stuff in pithy 100 word or less postings. So much inaccuracy and misunderstanding.
Sooo, welcome to my Health Insurance Reform Blog Series!
I have too much to write about so I am going to go topic by topic over a few days. I’m going to go on for more than 100 pithy words – so pay attention this is important.
Just like Congress, I can't say that I have read the bill - its 2000 pages. But I have read as much as I can from both sides of the media
Disclaimer- the info out there is terrible and very biased depending on what source you go to and the bill in written in bureaucratese, but I tried to understand as much as I could and this is what I will write about.
Let me first say this - I believe we have the best health care in the world – it’s the way we pay for it - health insurance - that is messed up. Second, I do believe that everyone needs the same access to affordable health care no matter what state they live in.
But the bill doesn’t fix the cost, payment or disparate access issues. Though there are a few good things in bill - the removal of the pre-existing conditions and lifetime caps and maybe some others hidden in the 2000 pages.
Just to be clear - Obama didn’t magically wave his wand and grant everyone free health care. About 40% of Facebook posters seem to think this. Nope.
So onto Today’s Topic: Mandating the Purchase of Insurance
From what I understand (see disclaimer above), essentially what the bill does is force 32 million people to become customers of the same insurance companies Obama has been calling evil for a year.
Now, I’m a Republican because I believe that the free market (when left alone) is better at solving most problems because the market has incentives built into it the government doesn’t (have you ever seen a government program cost less as time goes on? Government departments are incented to spend their budgets every year so that can ask for more of our money the next year etc…and have you ever been to the DMV??)
So, I would never have supported a government health plan, not because I do not think people should have health care but because I don’t believe the government is the best provider of this service.
BUT I would have supported an overhaul and major reform of the national INDIVIDUAL insurance market - ie where people can buy insurance outside of their employer. This needed to be NATIONAL in scope not state based. Actually the House had this in the bill but the Senate kept it to the states. This is silly - if we had a national health care market then companies would compete and free market principles could apply driving down costs of insurance.
When I lived in Key West I was 28 and healthy - I bought a very low cost catastrophic plan for health care. I could go the Dr for an annual check up and had prescription coverage but also had a high deductible. It was the right plan for me at the time and it was my choice. But I couldn’t get this same plan in NY State. Why not? Because of silly government rules confining health insurance to state lines.
Personally I’d rather pick my own insurance coverage on the individual market rather than one based at my employer (cost scenarios being equal – individual insurance is usually much more than group employer based coverage). But this option and this choice to do what is best for you as an individual is not a viable option under our system.
And the bill doesn’t change that - the new insurance exchanges where people can buy insurance are state based.
So, to sum up today's topic, everyone is now mandated to buy into an insurance system that is still broken. Nothing has been fixed. The costs are still outrageous and the choice of who can purchase your insurance from is still limited by stupid regulations.
Yes you have more freedom to buy toilet paper than to make an informed decision about your health insurance.
Yes, what I just wrote about was a complicated issue that our elected COngressCreatures would never think we were smart enough to handle (or more truthfully, THEY weren't smart enough to understand) and the media thinks is too boring to report on. During the debate it was easier to talk in soundbites and try to yell over each other. Which is why we got the flawed bill we got...
Tomorrow's Topic - why we have this effed up system in the first place and why major reform is needed but didn't happen.
I'd welcome feedback - but please post comments on this blog and not on Facebook if you have a gmail account....