I am still a little fuzzy on all the details, but I want start to outline what I have heard thus far on the Obama Universal Health Care bill. It is scheduled to be done some time over this summer. What I am writing may not all be factual or set in stone in yet, but it does start to paint a picture of what is coming.
- Good news: Washington politicians have been listening to Steve Burb, the CEO of Safeway who has successfully kept the medical costs for his company flat the past 5 years. He has implemented a lot of incentive base ideas that I outline in my book.
- The real debate will be whether the government offers a “public option” to Americans. The public option would be a lower price option to compete with private insurers. This sounds great, but it is the first step towards a socialized medicine. Private insurers would go bankrupt and corporations would opt out of providing citizens health care benefits. At this point the government will have a monopoly and officially own our countries medical insurance. If anyone thinks this is a good thing, look at how Medicare is bankrupting our government, or how socialized medicine is working in Canada and in European socialistic states.
- My understanding is that the health plan is designed to target approximately 45 million uninsured Americans and will place a mandate that every American must have health insurance. This will force Americans who are young and healthy to buy into a medical insurance plan. This is one way to keep the price of insurance premiums down. Since young people do not get sick very often they do not burden the insurance companies for money, thus their premiums can be used to cover elder people who have a tendency to get sick more readily. I suppose the Obama medical insurance plan is somewhat analogous to auto insurance, where every driver must have it. Today, we are lucky if three out of every four drivers on the road has auto insurance, so that has not worked per se and it will be interesting to see if the mandate works on health insurance. I also believe the Obama Plan is to make sure that anyone with preexisting conditions are covered.
- The plan would work through some of the largest medical insurance companies in America such as Blue Cross Blue Shield and Aetna. The good news is that the Obama Plan will not be run by the government and will instead be run by these few private sector insurance companies (Hopefully, if the public option is not passed). This is great news for corporate insurance giants, but bad news for any small companies because they will surely be force out of business. The Obama plan has identified enough insurance companies to ensure competition exists and it does not violate any Sherman Antitrust statutes. Ironically, the Obama administration says it have been vigilant looking out for antitrust violations during the recession, in particular price cutting by large corporations to eliminate smaller competition.
- I have not heard this, but it may make sense to move Medicare and Medicaid plans from government control to the private sector (I know this will not happen). Medicare is in dire trouble and it will be bankrupt in the next 8 years if something is not done. The government runs these social programs like a Ponzi-Scheme and the money is drying up. If Medicare fails, it will certainly have a dramatic impact on our nation’s retirees. I am not a big fan of Medicare and it is a long story in my book. In short, Medicare failed my father big time when he got sick.
- The cost is expected to run anywhere from 650 billion to any where near 1.6 trillion dollars to cover the uninsured. The Obama administration claims this is an investment and eventually the health care program will pay for itself. This is where I am lost and I do not understand the math here. The way I see it, the government will have to spend at least 650 billion dollars every year to cover the uninsured and this price tag will go up every year to cover the cost of inflation. I know Obama got a pledge from the medical industry to cut 2 trillion in cost over the next decade. However, this still will not be enough to diminish the rising medical costs in this country. Besides, how the industry plans to cut 2 trillion is vague and there is no real plan.
- The other thing that is not clear to me is who qualifies for the program. For example, I am sure some people cannot afford health insurance but do buy it. On the other hand, I am sure some people that can afford health insurance opt not to have any. I do not know what the criteria are for people to qualify for the program.
- The thing the Obama administration has not developed is a mitigation plan to curtail medical costs. Okay, so let’s say everyone in America has insurance under his new plan, but if health costs continue to rise each year, the burden on the government and taxpayers will grow. For example, obesity is one issue causing health insurance rates to rise each year. Another example is frivolous lawsuits causing doctors to have costly malpractice insurance to cover them in case they are sued. In fact, Obama’s empathy view of the law will only invite more frivolous lawsuits against doctors. In other words, once again the government is trying to solve a problem by throwing money at it without addressing the root cause of the problem. I have said it many times; I do not think we have a health insurance problem in this country, but a health problem. I hate to say this because I cannot stand government interference in the private sector, but I would rather see the government tax unhealthy foods such as candy, sodas, and even fast foods and try to force these companies to make healthier options. This would be better than just randomly taxing the wealthy. I would also like to see insurance companies charge premiums for unhealthy people as they do with smokers. I would like to see insurance companies reward healthy people with lower premiums. I would like to see insurance companies not cover people who have self-inflicted illnesses from obesity, smoking, drinking, and so forth. I know it will be hard to define self-inflicted so I doubt this will be legislated. In other words, I would like to see some incentive to tackle the obesity health issue that is taking over our country. If Americans are healthier, our health coverage would be much more affordable for everyone.
- I currently have a Blue Cross Blue Shield plan and I will be watching intently to see if my premium goes down after the government throws another trillion dollars at the problem. I am not holding my breath.
More on this issue as the facts become clearer.
My Blog: http://patrickbohan.blogtownhall.com/ (The Theory of Mediocrity)
My Book: Is America Dying? (Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble)