David Hines
Unhealthy care
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By David Hines
August 23, 2009

Congress says they're talking about health care. Not so. All they're discussing is insurance.

The issue before them is not medicine; it's merely paying for medicine. The only solution being considered is empowering middlemen, private or governmental, to manage the market. The middlemen shall control all transactions, becoming the true customer and making the patient merely an accessory.

There are other universal needs, at least as important as health care. Should we have government insurance for them as well? If it's good for one thing, it's probably necessary for others.

How about food? Since we all need food, let's pay an insurer to give it to us. The insurer can tell us what food we may and may not have, and how much. With a single-payer food source, we'd save costs. We could tell farmers and fishermen how much they can charge for the product.

Housing insurance sounds like a good idea, too. Pay the insurer to put roofs over our heads. We will be told what domicile we can have. With single-payer, costs of construction can be controlled. We merely tell builders what payment they must accept.

Let's have clothing insurance, too. The insurer will provide us with garments, dictating the allowable style.

There are over 300 million Americans without food, housing, and clothing insurance! This is unacceptable in a civilized country! We must do something!

(If a free market works for necessities such as food, shelter, and clothing, why is it so anathema to medicine? Conversely, if a free market is bad for medicine, should we not be told by a middleman what we can eat and wear, and where we may live? The choice is whether to be treated as free adults, or as clueless children who have to have all our decisions dictated to us. Health care today, food tomorrow.)

Since the 1930s health care has been increasingly placed under the tutelage of insurers. FDR began the process, by linking it to employment. To get around the wage controls he instituted and allow big companies to pay more, he permitted them to provide health care as a pay raise that wasn't a pay raise. Since businesses could write off this expense but individuals couldn't, employer-provided insurance became commonplace. Now the complaint is that you lose health insurance if you change jobs. FDR's solution became a problem — as have many of his "solutions." As evidenced by his face on the dime, though, he has risen to Mt. Olympus and his wisdom is now enshrined.

Group insurance having been made ubiquitous, those insurers could negotiate for lower fees, passing on heavier costs to those not so covered — such as patients paying cash for service. Cash patients were thus priced out of the market. Some unaccountably believe that if you have one big group, it can negotiate for lower fees without having anyone onto whom to pass the higher costs.

Since the advent of Medicare, health care costs have risen at about 8% per year — far faster than the rate of general inflation. As a cost-saving measure decades ago, government opted for the HMO model. Now the complaint is that HMOs deny coverage to save costs and increase profit.

To be fair, a few of our officials do address health care rather than merely health insurance. They want to make you healthier by paying bureaucrats to tell you what to eat and how much to exercise. There's talk of telling you when to die, too, with "end of life" counselors. These helpful advisors will lower the cost of health care, we're told — if you discount their salaries and benefits.

The solution being proposed to previous government meddling is more government meddling. History indicates that this will raise costs, limit access to necessary procedures, and further divorce the patient from his course of treatment. It will also deliver windfalls to chosen corporations and put the nation further into irredeemable debt.

With all these savings that will increase costs astronomically, where can I get wallet insurance?

© David Hines

 

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David Hines

Note: David Hines passed away on April 1, 2017.


Born in a mill town, David Hines has seen work as a furniture mover, computer programmer/analyst, and professional musician... (more)

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