Sunday, September 13, 2009

Thoughts on ObamaCare

News coverage of Obama’s healthcare bill has eclipsed all other news for much of the summer and it looks like this same controversial topic will stay on the front burner well into autumn. Personally, when it comes to health insurance, I’m covered by three separate government health care systems—TriCare, Medicare, and the VA. Asking myself if any of this stuff concerns me, of course the answer is YES, it does. Reading the news and researching the bill, I feel extremely apprehensive.

Its complicated nature is one thing that bothers me—it’s a hulking Frankenstein monster cobbled together by disparate authors each with their own special interests. And no one really knows anything about how it will specifically work to accomplish the objective, which supposedly is affordable healthcare for virtually everyone. I ask rhetorically, does this mean if you’re broke or indigent that you will still have access to by-pass surgery, ultrasounds, MRI’s, CAT scans, chemotherapy, x-rays, or whatever your medical needs might be? If so, then in a nutshell, the way it works is we spend lots of money—billions upon trillions in fact.

Based on what he’s said in his recent promotional speeches to push this legislation, or I should say, on what he didn’t or couldn’t say (long on promises, short on details), Obama himself doesn’t understand much of the inner workings of “his” own bill; and who can blame him? Have you tried to read it? Here’s a link to the contents of HR 3200 by subtitle and section. Scroll through it and see what I mean. Basically, he tells us not to worry, don’t be scared—TRUST him. (I’m supposed to trust someone with a background devoid of any real executive experience in any field other than “community organizing?”) I’m still baffled whenever he says it will cost MORE not to implement this bill. . . .Huh?

Here’s what I think—in our current economic state we cannot afford to pay for everyone’s medical care. Maybe it was possible decades ago, when medical care was bare bones, but now? No way. Back then, all the procedures and treatments, plus the equipment it takes to accomplish them, all things taken for granted today, had not yet been developed or invented. And pharmaceuticals?—antibiotics were just coming into development 70 years ago for one example, and compared to today there were few effective remedies of any kind. People either recovered (mostly on their own) or they died; and often a lot of suffering was involved before they died just the same. Seventy years ago the government was not involved in any of that.

So here’s the thing, if we ARE going to do this, if we really plan to provide all the latest medical care to everyone, no matter how much they do or don’t pay in, then we all have to accept the fact that we must sacrifice other things on a national scale, things like our high-priced military capabilities, educational programs, foreign aid, highway and bridge building and repair, space exploration, you name it, we have to let much of that and plenty of other stuff go; AND it’s a given that our taxes WILL necessarily go UP.
Look at overtaxed Europe for instance; they HAVE socialized medicine and due to the costs of funding it they mostly rely on us to defend them, the same as much of the free world does. If we do this then, our allies should start deciding what to do if Russia, China or Iran starts flexing imperialistic, and how to do it without us.

On that note, let’s talk cost on a human level. My dad had a kidney transplant that gave him about 15 years more of life. The costs of doing the actual procedure was probably on the order of hundreds of thousands, and the continuing costs of maintenance meds, plus the expense of paying for recovery from complications over the next decade and a half was probably even more. Who paid for it? Well, you did if you bought certain American autos. His GM health insurance paid for most of it initially, so GM recovered it by rolling it into the price of their cars. (None of that was a problem as long as General Motors was hugely profitable). I assume the rest of the costs were rolled into TriCare and Medicare, so again, we all paid; no argument from most, since we might need some of that action someday, right?

Next, the marvels of “the miracle” of modern medicine—both my grandfathers died of heart failure; after their attacks the treatment they got back in the 60s and early 70s was bed rest—that was about it. Can’t get much more inexpensive than that; but, you get what you pay for, because they both died! It’s a good bet that they would not have died from those same heart attacks today. Now, there are drugs that bring heart attack victims back from the brink, not to mention angioplasty, stints and by-passes—all miraculous, and all expensive.

All the new treatments are great, they extend life like no one ever thought possible during my grandfathers’ times; but let’s face it, the costs are enormous. To highlight on a personal (non-American) level, my Filipino buddy died three nights ago from a longstanding heart condition. His cardiologist told him months ago that angioplasty would easily give him another couple years or more of life. Yet, he didn’t have the procedure because he didn’t have the money and couldn’t get it, not even from his 6 kids in the States. The cost of angioplasty here is 700,000 Pesos or about $14,500 (cheap by American standards). Yet, his six successful children, all Americans, refused to chip in the measly $2430 each to save their dad. In effect, they exercised their own familial version of rationed health care, something we will certainly see under the ObamaCare system if it passes. I’m sure my buddy’s kids reasoned that their dad is old and weak—how much longer can he last? Am I judging them? Well, yes, I am; but similar decisions will surely be made by the new healthocrats waiting to happen with this bill!

(On the subject of rationing, most of us low rent “bottom feeders” simply accept it. Insurance companies, the VA, even TriCare, they all govern who gets what procedures, tests and treatments and when, based on factors such as age, cost, and likelihood of effectiveness—that IS rationing. Of course, they HAVE to; there is only so much money to go around. And if Medicare doesn’t do it now, I have to wonder why they aren’t. Perhaps I’m hardened to it from my own experiences, but there’s just no way that everyone gets treatment, regardless of circumstance. ONLY the very rich get ALL the treatment they desire—nothing will EVER change that, not even ObamaCare. Brad Pitt supports ObamaCare without question, but when he gets to be 75 do you think he’s going to subject himself to the decisions of some healthocrat? Hell no, he’s going to go someplace else in the world and simply pay for whatever he wants, and more power to him!)

Now bear with me while I continue to talk this out, because I’m trying to understand a few things—first, explain what it is about healthcare that suddenly turned it into a human right? There is nothing about healthcare in the Constitution. All it says is that we have a right to the pursuit of happiness (and life and liberty) by guaranteeing our freedoms under the Bill of Rights to keep us free of government tyranny.

So, obviously, Obama’s crew and many of his big city constituents believe that modern medical care should be a basic human right, and, that as a nation we must all bear the costs for those that cannot afford it. Do I have that right? Okay, so let’s say they pass the bill and universal care becomes the new American human right. Well, as I just pointed out above, the miracle of modern medicine costs money and lots of it. Then again, so do a lot of things, like houses and cars. Shouldn’t those things also be added to the list of human rights? And why stop there? Shouldn’t we all be able to travel by commercial jet, just like the richest of us are able to whenever THEY want?

Isn’t that what much of this is about—envy? That if some of us are rich enough to have access to certain things, shouldn’t everyone have access to those things too? Well hell, carrying it out a little further, why should ONLY Americans have access to medical care, or homes, or cars, or food, or champagne, or to whatever? Why not provide all things to all people everywhere on the planet?

Sounds ridiculous doesn’t it? Well, it is ridiculous, because if we go down this socialistic path, we will end up the way the Cubans are today, the way the Soviets were 30 years ago. The Soviet system disappeared because of its socialist failings, and Cuba is a joke with a half-assed public medical system, despite what propagandist Michael Moore claims.

I’m wondering; considering the expense of contemporary medical care, shouldn’t we be willing to work hard INDIVIDUALLY to pay for the best health insurance we can get? Most of us don’t give it a second thought that homes cost hundreds of thousands of dollars (or millions) that new cars cost tens of thousands; so why get so angry when a steep bill comes in for chemotherapy or to have a fractured leg properly set? Healing a broken body can be way more complicated than building a car. Like it or not, hospitals, doctors, nurses, pharmaceutical companies, the entire medical industry, does not exist for free. If Obama forces them to operate under cost, that industry WILL start to go away. At that point we WILL have de facto rationed care exactly like the Canadians and Europeans.

(Then again, I HAVE seen what I consider gouging by hospitals. When she was pregnant with our first daughter I took my wife to an emergency room in New Jersey for stomach pain. Mostly she sat alone in an examining room before a doctor finally came in and checked her out for all of 5 minutes. Then a nurse came in and gave her a shot of Demerol and left. We sat in the room for another hour by ourselves with the nurse checking on her once more before we left. The charge for all that to TriCare was $850! I think TriCare paid them $200. Another time I took my son to Children’s Hospital in Little Rock after he had been diagnosed with the onset of diabetes. They did a wonderful job with him but their charges were definitely a gouge. $10 for an aspirin and $80 for physical therapy!? The so-called physical therapy consisted of one session of taking him down to the gym, handing him a basketball and letting him dribble and shoot unsupervised for a half-hour! That kind of BS overcharging makes you wonder doesn’t it? No wonder insurance companies don’t trust hospital billing!)

And then there are the folks who choose NOT to invest in the possibility that they will need a doctor to fix them up some day, so instead, they spend their money on other things. So be it. It’s a free country, or it is for now anyway, because ObamaCare is going to force everyone to pay premiums, whether they want to or not. And you know what, maybe as part of a REAL healthcare fix everyone SHOULD pay; especially if deadbeats have decided that they will get their future healthcare for free (at our expense) at emergency rooms or from Medicaid, etc. People like that are irresponsible, but currently THAT is their choice; if they opt out of paying insurance, when they get sick or hurt, hey, it’s on THEM! I say no more freebies at emergency rooms or any “public care” for anyone.

Ultimately, THAT is the real thing going on here then—that THESE people in THIS government are convinced that THEY know what’s best. This far left group that we inexplicably voted into power last November wants nothing less than for government to control EVERYTHING. This is about THEIR power; it’s about THEM reforming America into a new Europe. No thanks. My people escaped all that European bunk centuries ago—I do not want to be a European.

Healthcare problems we can fix with far less intrusive measures than what I see in that beast of a bill. I just hope that whatever bill Obama, Pelosi and Reid force down our throats, that is, IF they do, that its provisions are not so profoundly implemented that a future "more responsible" congress is not able to draw it back and eradicate it.


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Hope said...
I'm not sure what I think about healthcare anymnore...I really don't. I haven't had it in 12 years.

I had my kids at home and if I wanted insurance for myself I would need to fork over 800 of one of my husband's 1200 buck twice a month paychecks. If it weren't for a state insurance plan for the kids similar to Medicaid which we qualify and fund with our tax dollars,we would have to figure out how to pay the 1175 bucks a month it would cost for a family plan at my husband's county job.

I'm really not angry about not being able to afford health insurance, but I my intelligence is insulted this agency, where my husband has worked diligently for 18 years in good service, when they look me in the face and say they provide a healthcare plan.

They don't.

Ed said...

You missed one point. With universal healthcare, we are cheating Darwin's theory of survival of the fittest. Now instead of being the super race that we could be, every genetic freak and diseased person among us gets a chance to procreate!

PhilippinesPhil said...

There is no doubt Hope that there is a problem with the system as your situation well demonstrates. I just don't trust this guy to fix it. Did you try to read the bill? Click on the link for HR 3200 I provided. Healthcare is expensive and you just never know when you're going to need it; and if its the kids.... shudder Its a question of priorities right?

Very Jonathan Swiftesque there Ed.

malor said...

i agree with Pres. Obama --we definitely need a change in our healthcare. It is very expensive yet not very efficient. Try not to look at Cuba or USSR. Look at Western Europe -- they are on universal healthcare yet their people are healthier than Americans. It is a shame to be the richest and most powerful nation in the world yet you can get bankcrupt here with just one devastating diagnosis -- because your insurance company decided not to cover you anymore. Also, I believe healthier people equals healthier economy -- more people can work and therefore pay taxes. I can go on and on about this. I believe Obama has the right idea. It will not be perfect initially but we have to act before it gets too late.

PhilippinesPhil said...

Hi malor, thanks for commenting, but, Americans are not UNhealthy due to lack of healthcare, that has more to do with lifestyle. Everytime I go back home I marvel at the obesity! We are eating, drinking, sitting and smoking ourselves to death. We can fix our problems without busting our national budget; I don't trust a bunch of socialists to "fix" it. Europe is broke and overtaxed, their economy stagnant. I am glad Obama is forcing us to look at healthcare problems, but he has no idea what he's doing and his czars are leftists with a radical agenda. More on Europe, they are pulling AWAY from the exact things that Obamacare is proposing.

Amadeo said...

I am sure, and I am confident Phil will also agree, that the people of the US would learn to appreciate the current healthcare, warts and all, or even if they do not have it, if they allow themselves to live in a 3rd-world country like the Philippines.

While I now devote more time in the old homeland, I continue to maintain our HMO coverage here, contributing a monthly payment. But time will come when I may have to stop that or get another one.

I am told there is a government counterpart over there called PhilHealth. I can only imagine how that works and whether it truly is effective, though I ought to know better.

Just worry about being healthy and hope for the best.

PhilippinesPhil said...

Yeah, PhilHealth, okay for minor stuff. I wouldn't want to have anything real extensive done here. Get stabilized so you can travel and get back home. Its a gamble otherwise. You're right; best bet is stay healthy, and be careful.