Friday, August 21, 2009

Episode 73A: L Comment/NCG Healthcare Debate: Argument 1, Access (I'm Back!!)



Wow, it's good to be back! I just moved to a new house and haven't had internet for almost two weeks! Being a tech head, that's a tough pill to swallow haha. But alas, I'm back, and I'm happy to see the debate has been alive in my absence. Moving forward, the healthcare debate with New Conservative Generation will continue, and we'll be talking about a bunch of current events so stay tuned!

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There is absolutely no doubt that healthcare reform will be an extremely expensive endeavor. No matter what course we take, be it 100% “socialist” or 100% “capitalist,” any major reform will cost more money than the current system because an entirely new infrastructure must be designed and implemented. Thus the debate in my opinion is a matter of prioritizing Americans over the American dollar. According to the National Coalition on Healthcare, approximately 46 million Americans do not have health insurance. Those who do have health insurance primarily receive their coverage through their place of employment. However, studies show that premiums have increase just shy of 120% since 1999, causing many employers to limit the coverage they offer or stop offering healthcare all together. With our standard of living steadily declining due to decreasing annual incomes, the number of uninsured will continue to increase. The worst-case doomsday scenario shows that up to 66 million Americans will be uninsured if we remain on our current trajectory.

One of the biggest problems with the healthcare debate is the notion of whether or not all Americans should have some kind of coverage, regardless of who is providing it. There are many people who truly think things are fine the way they are, and if you can’t afford insurance for any reason, tough luck. This is absolutely unacceptable. The fact is, more access to healthcare in time will decrease costs. This is because more people will address illnesses because they reach critical mass. It is an unrealistic notion to assume once universal healthcare is passed, the emergency rooms will be flooded the next day. In fact, it would be the opposite – the empty clinics will once again have customers! In border states, many people travel to Mexico to get significantly cheaper healthcare. When Americans have access to healthcare, they will see traditional clinic doctors. This will lessen the burden on emergency rooms and save money there. This will also decrease the burden on Free Health Clinics, who rely on donations and volunteers to stay in operation. Also, ER doctors are required by law to treat anyone who comes to the ER. The patient will still receive a bill, but they don’t always pay it. Those expenses are passed off to you, dear taxpayer. There are a lot of savings like these that cannot be included in the Congressional Budget Office report because they cannot include projected savings, only actual savings on the ledger lines.

When talking about access to healthcare, we must also talk about the converse – denial of healthcare. While my worthy opponent CGen has, to a certain extent, denounced the claim of “death panels,” there are still many others who believe a government option would decide when to “pull the plug.” My question is, does this not happen already to some extent with private insurance? Our president’s own mother fell victim to the denial of coverage due to a “pre-existing” condition. And while we’ll never know the truth behind the insurance company’s decision not to cover her medical costs, doesn’t it stand to reason that a cancer patient with limited window of life expectancy would cost money the insurance company doesn’t want to pay? Now we can’t be too presumptuous here, only President Obama, his mother, and the insurance company knows the facts of this story. Still, these kinds of things happen every day. It has happened to people I know. People who have insurance don’t get proper treatment because the insurance companies find any way to not pay your claim. The right talk about the fear of your claim going through endless review from bureaucracy, but how is that any different from calling your private insurer, and having your issue moved up to tier 1, then tier 2, only to find you have to call billing and support, who then send you to tier 1 support, then tier 2 before they send you to their manager who informs you have to call the first number you called…

Many opponents of universal healthcare are saying something to the tune of “I’d rather see no healthcare bill passed than this one.” I don’t understand why so few on the right is talking about making this bill better rather than question whether or not such a bill should exist. Again, it is all about priorities – The American, or the American Dollar. I know we have the intellectual brainpower in this country to develop a plan that reconciles the need to ensure all American citizens have some kind of insurance while finding a way to curb the cost over a decade. That’s not what are conservative counterparts are talking about however. They are talking about reforming a system that they still give significant tax breaks to, that will continue to jeopardize the well being of American citizens in order to line the pockets of those who really control access to the system – private enterprise. If conservatives argued that we were trading one kind of control (private enterprise) for another (the government), then there would be consistency in their argument. However, the primary deniers of healthcare come from the very industry they are standing up for – private insurance. That is why we need some sort of public option to a) offset the balance of power for big business and b) dissuade private enterprise from cheating Americans out of the coverage they paid for with a competitor that will provide at least the basic services without question. Access to healthcare is the short-term and long-term solution to the healthcare crisis.
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6 comments: on "Episode 73A: L Comment/NCG Healthcare Debate: Argument 1, Access (I'm Back!!)"

Left Coast Rebel said...

TL - I'll tackle a few points here. I'll copy some of your points with a simple rebuttal, my take. First off, the fictitious 46 million uninsured.

You said - According to the National Coalition on Healthcare, approximately 46 million Americans do not have health insurance.

IBD June 16 -

1). The Census Bureau report published last August, of the 45.6 million persons in the U.S. that did not have health insurance at some point in 2007, 9.7 million, or about 21%, were not U.S. citizens.

2).Also among the uninsured are 17 million Americans who live in households where the annual income exceeds $50,000; 7 million of those without coverage have incomes of $75,000 a year or more.

3).The Census Bureau's Survey of Income and Program Participation, which found a few years ago that only 19 million Americans go without insurance for a full year.

So TL, I am sensing that the 'chronically uninsured' is around 10-15 million folks, many of which already are eligible for government aid. It's tough to debate when we have straw-man arguments such as the bloated 46 million number.

Moving on, you said - That is why we need some sort of public option to a) offset the balance of power for big business and b) dissuade private enterprise from cheating Americans out of the coverage they paid for with a competitor that will provide at least the basic services without question. Access to healthcare is the short-term and long-term solution to the healthcare crisis.

The nature of a "public option" is that it becomes the only option. That is why you see so much opposition to it. Private enterprise cannot compete against a government plan, side by side. Would you support the "public option" if you ceded this point? I don't believe as well that access to our system is causing the runaway inflation, it is the precise opposite - too much red-tape, a disconnect of supply/demand via insurance involvement, Medicare reimbursement issues and a myriad of other reasons.

TRUTH 101 said...

"Red tape" is a good reason for single payer as I've advocated LCR. One place for health care providers to submt claims. One insurance provider with one set of rules.


As for the 46 million uninsured. Or the 15 million. 19 million. However many million. How many millions are acceptable?



Of course the private option would be at a competitive disadvantage because the public would be motivated by insuring and not profit. Healthcare is too important to our Nation's well being to allow profit to be the motivating factor behind decisions.

Left Coast Rebel said...

Truth - I brought up the number of uninsured to have a factual, reasonable argument. If 46 million is inaccurate it doesn't help your side. To your point I would say why stop at 46 million? Why not just say 100 million and be done with it. The actual accurate uninsured figure is a huge part of this debate because it represents the cost of a new federal program. And if this is about cutting cost as Obams says it is, an accurate uninsured number is priority #1.

I'm just sayin'........

TRUTH 101 said...

What I've been saying all along is let's get everyone on a single payer plan and everyone contributes through a payroll tax. Millions are on medicaid or some other public aid and they pay nothing. We already have government health care. Streamline it to one program.

The Law said...

Good points LCR, and I'm excited to see CGen's rebuttal to this. I imagine he'll make similar points, so I'll save my response for after his rebuttal so I don't influence his response =)

Truth, I thought about the HR626 proposition, and I don't think it's a bad idea (in fact I thought of that about a year ago, but didn't know that it had a name (single payer system). I have ideas on that too, but they are still abrewing so I'll let you know when I cook up something I think Dems and Reps will enjoy!

CJ said...

I agree the government should help the poor buy healthcare. I do not believe the claim that the government can radically affect the cost of healthcare. Treatments’ costs are driven by supply and demand.

I cannot understand the idea that a public option is a good way to balance the power of insurance companies. Why not just have an insurance commissioner set out the parameters of insurance contracts and have courts enforce those contracts? That seems like a direct way of dealing with the question of keeping insurance companies honest.

No matter how you slice it, an insurance contract (purchased BEFORE getting sick) with a decent deductible will cost a family around $500/mo. We should help poor people pay for this because we don’t want to live in a society where the poor go without medicine. The government taking over a big chunk of the insurance industry, however, is just a shell game trying to hide the fact that advanced medical treatments are expensive. Politicians are telling middle-class people, who can afford medicine, that if they just pass the right laws people can have the same medical treatments they get now without paying for them.

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