Saturday, February 16, 2008

Universal Health Care

This post is written in response to a post by Lawyer Mama which can be read in part here and in full here.

To preface, I am one of those who has to pay for my own insurance out of my paycheck. I have spent an average of more than 20% of that paycheck each year on medical costs.
I don't want universal health care. I would much prefer a private solution where group health care were more readily available to those who do not work for employers that provide coverage in the benefits package. There are more and more companies getting out of that benefit area anyway because the costs are skyrocketing. By the insurance companies offering group coverage based on locality, age, or whatever other logic diversified their risk adequately, more people could get coverage.

I also think a better solution is that more health-related items should be tax deductible. Pay for a gym? Tax deductible. Get an annual physical? Tax deductible. If more preventative medicine practices were covered by insurance or tax deductible, people would be more encouraged to undertake those practices. Universal health care without those remedies would only increase the velocity of the costs increases as more people become encouraged to "just wait 'til it blows" (my father once told me to do that with a tire that was leaky, and I did, so it happened on the way to school, kind of fits the poor timing comment). As one driver once said to another, regarding his truck, "I don't maintain my equipment. I just hope it goes out while I'm under a load with [my company]." I don't let him work with us anymore. Because the current system encourages people to wait until their problems are chronic, our costs will continue to go up.

The last reason I would not want universal health care is the same reason I don't want Social Security in its present form anymore. When the government takes tax dollars to pay for something, they are matching dollars with dollars. When an insurance company takes in premiums, they invest those premiums and use their profits to pay for health care. Government could never compete with them on their ability to cover costs (even as bad as they are already about paying for what they are supposed to). If government took tax dollars in and paid them to private insurance companies to handle those who qualify for some program, I would be willing to entertain proposals on the idea.

I have one further problem with creating one more program to help those who are "unable to help themselves." By aiding those considered less fortunate, more people become less fortunate. If I could quit paying what I do for insurance and just qualify for a government program instead, I might. Certainly many would. It happens time and again. The welfare rolls have plenty on them who could do more for themselves than they do, but they're satisfied getting by on welfare because they get medical costs handled and basic needs met. I won't discuss the criminal subculture of welfare recipients who find other sources of income here because I don't want to cloud the issue. Creating universal health care to insure those who are not presently insured would actually mean insuring more than their 46-million.

I know plenty of young people who are healthy and able-bodied who simply don't have insurance because they choose not to. Sure, they're taking a risk, but that's their choice. If I had saved all my premiums and simply paid for the various costs of medical care I had incurred with my family (and no, they are not low) over the past four years, I would still have money left over from my premiums I am sure. But I pay for insurance to cover catastrophies. I am also a diabetic who will need further health care for probably the rest of my life. If I had not gotten on insurance before, I might be faced with a serious problem now. Still, I don't want universal health care to save me. I prefer to look for better solutions than government managed programs. I am definitely interested in discussing government aided private solutions when the aid comes in the form of tax breaks and positive incentives instead of increased taxation to build more programs.

I would love to hear more thoughts on this subject. I have posted the links to the inspiration for my comments on the subject, so hopefully comments here will be something new beyond those endorsements.

-- Robert


le35 said...

Private health care, despite the astronomical prices, is still cheaper than paying the taxes and having to do it through the government. With the current taxes and our health care costs combined, we pay about %45 of our gross income. The cost would certainly rise with universal health care, and we would instead be paying it all to politicians who may or may not do what they said with it.

Robert said...

I definitely agree that we should fear what would happen to funds once they are in the hands of bureaucrats and politicians. Reforming the insurance industry certainly appeals a great deal more to me than replacing it or even supplementing it with a government program.

Lawyer Mama said...

I don't think any of the candidates are currently proposing a single payer system. They're proposing that everyone be required to have insurance and to provide it for those who can't afford it.

We're already bearing the costs for those who are uninsured. Why not shift those funds to providing health care so that people won't have to wait for a catastrophe before seeking care.

And Robert, you are correct that you could have a problem getting coverage as a diabetic. In fact, if your current insurance company decides to discontinue your coverage or stop offering insurance in your area you could find yourself in quite a pickle. Just like millions of Americans (who would be willing to pay for coverage if they could just get it) already do.

Robert said...

I am presently working on what will likely become a multi-day post series on some proposals I have for working on the cost of health care. I'd love the input from you and other friends of yours. Presently, my plan is to post the first Tuesday, I will probably do the Hump Day Wednesday and then Thursday another part of my idea.

Yes, I had a pretty low opinion of my insurance provider, but then they started a condition management program that I am automatically signed up for, that is not kept separate from my records as their insured, and which I have regular access to for ideas and support in dealing with my diabetes. I was pretty proud of them for that.