When in Rome

You know why I think a government-run healthcare plan will ultimately fail? Because politicians aren’t businessmen.

Politicians look at the current broken healthcare system in our country and instead of thinking like businessmen, they’re thinking like politicians. Instead of looking at the reasons the current system fails people (pre-existing conditions, immovable coverage [if you lose your job, you can’t take your coverage with you without paying crazy amounts of money for COBRA], increased rates when you get sick, etc.) and trying to improve them, they’re trying to put in place another already-broken system just to create competition. Because, as politicians, they sincerely think that’s the answer.

Let’s look at their perspective: Healthcare needs reform: more Americans need coverage, the costs have to come down. As the government, they feel it’s their responsibility to provide the kind of reform that will extend coverage and lower costs. So, they’ll create their own healthcare system and insurance plans! This will cause competition among the existing insurance companies (= lower costs) and be an affordable alternative to private plans (= extend coverage). Their system will solve everyone’s problems and eventually completely dismantle the original broken system. Mission accomplished. (Except for the small problem that their plan won’t actually lower costs and millions more Americans will lose coverage as their companies transition over to the government plan, but those are facts none of the politicians are addressing because they conflict with their selling points.)

But the fact of the matter is that insurance companies are in business to make money. That’s why they don’t provide coverage for pre-existing conditions, why your rates increase after receiving coverage. Oh, those villianous capitalists.

Granted, I’m no CEO or business owner. And I’m completely against the government forcing us to do anything. But the feds are intent on pushing some kind of legislation through whether we like it or not. So it seems to me that what they should be doing is creating incentives for insurance companies to: provide coverage for pre-existing conditions, to make their individual plans more affordable and portable so if people lose their jobs they don’t go broke paying for COBRA, etc. Incentives that still keep the industry’s bottom line in mind but also solve the problems the whole system faces. Maybe incentives already exist and don’t work? I don’t really know. I’m still thinking through this whole politicians-trying-to-operate-as-businessmen idea.

The government option won’t make any money (I’m not aware of any government-run entities that make a profit; can anyone show me some?), it’ll continue to cost taxpayers (especially wealthier taxpayers) billions and trillions of dollars, and quality of care is completely going to suffer. If the government is going to compete with businesses in the private market, they need to actually think and operate like a business. When in Rome, Mr. Obama…

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Alternate ideas

Like I mentioned earlier, I’m not opposed to changing the healthcare system, I’m just opposed to the kind of change that results in government-run options and the step-by-step destruction of the American marketplace.

This article presents some great alternatives to the sweeping, competing bills being presented in the House. In short:

  • Remove the legal obstacles that slow the creation of high-deductible health insurance plans and health savings accounts (HSAs).
  • Equalize the tax laws so that employer-provided health insurance and individually owned health insurance have the same tax benefits.
  • Repeal all state laws which prevent insurance companies from competing across state lines.
  • Repeal government mandates regarding what insurance companies must cover.
  • Enact tort reform to end the ruinous lawsuits that force doctors to pay insurance costs of hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. [FYI: Doctors MUST pursue payment from their patients. If they don’t, the IRS comes after them. Lawyers, coincidentally, not only have the option to take on pro bono work but they can deduct it from their taxes based on what they would have charged! So sure, your malpractice attorney “won’t get paid if you don’t get paid” but he’ll still deduct it from his taxes; and your doctor’s malpractice insurance just doubled. Thanks, Justice.]
  • Make costs transparent so that consumers understand what health-care treatments cost.
  • Enact Medicare reform.
  • Finally, revise tax forms to make it easier for individuals to make a voluntary, tax-deductible donation to help the millions of people who have no insurance and aren’t covered by Medicare, Medicaid or the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Just because people don’t agree with ObamaCare doesn’t mean they’re totally happy with the status quo. But lawmakers don’t seem to even step back from a government option in favor of true reform to the system–reform ideas like those presented above. Instead, they want to initiate a plan that will ultimately evolve into a single-payer system (no matter what Obama says, take a look at the math) and put the government in charge of your health.

Let’s look at options that take the existing system and improve it instead of throwing it out the window and putting a different, broken system in place.

I, personally, don’t even think this debate is that critical. (Gasp.) Sure, Congress and the media and the President keep throwing around that infamous number of uninsured Americans that need coverage now! What’s it up to today, 50 million? I’ve been digging around to find a breakdown of those 50 million people and the reasons they’re uninsured. I mean, hello, they’re the reason for this whole mess right? (Well, and a power-hungry administration, but that’s another post.) The most concise information I could find breaks it down as follows:

According to the US Census Bureau, 17 million of those without health insurance live in households having over $50,000 in annual income. That’s 38% of the uninsured in America.(2)

In fact, 9 million – 20% of the uninsured – reside in households pulling down more than $75K a year. (3)

And then there are the young invincibles. Over 18 million of the uninsured are people between the ages of 18 and 34. (4) They spend more than four times as much on alcohol, tobacco, entertainment and dining out as they do for out-of-pocket spending on health care.(5) They represent 40% of the uninsured in America.

14 million people without health insurance are eligible for government health care programs like Medicaid and S-CHIP but choose not to enroll. (7) They represent %31 – nearly one third – of the uninsured in America.

The U.S. has 12 million illegal immigrants who don’t buy health insurance but still get health care.

So, how many are truly uninsured? Around eight million. Just 18% of the 45 million that we hear about so often.

This data is based on 2007 Census info and other sources, but 8 million Americans equals out to about 3% of the population. Is it worth destroying our economic infrastructure to provide coverage to 3% of the population? Or is it worth it to examine alternate improvements to the existing system to provide that access?

47millionuninsured

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Out of touch

Articles like this, this and this not only give me retarded tingles for our leaders, but anger and sadden me that it’s come to this. The whole situation reminds me of the age-old adage, “He who smelt it, dealt it.”

And, let’s face it, the Democrats totally smelt it.

Which means one of two things (neither of which are good):

1. Lawmakers are so corrupted themselves that they assume everyone else is, too. Surely no one really opposes their healthcare reform plans but those villainous insurance companies and right-wing extremists so they’re the ones flooding the town hall meetings with the crazies.

2. They are so out of touch with their constituents that when the voice of the people actually becomes audible, they pull out all the spin tactics they can to invalidate it.

The Founding Fathers declared independence after the colonies were levied with a tax that amounted to less than 0.5%. Why? Representation! Or the lack thereof.

Now we’re faced with politicians who don’t want to hear what the people have to say because it conflicts with their own agendas. They’re choosing to ignore the voice of the people and, worse, are spinning it to the media that the protesters are only there to gain fame on YouTube, or because they were paid off by insurance companies, or because they’re antiestablishment nutjobs.

Oh, and let’s not forget that they want you to tattle on your neighbor if he speaks out against healthcare reform–because anyone who opposes it is obviously spreading “misinformation” and we can’t have that. So email the White House and let them know.

Have they forgotten their roles as representatives? Have they forgotten that it’s their job to act on behalf of the voice of the people? Have they forgotten it’s a Constitutional right for the people to speak their minds? If the majority of the people are in favor of the reform bills, fine; but don’t ignore the opposition just because it’s opposition. Don’t tell me my opinion–because it’s different from yours–isn’t valid because you think I’m crazy.

I don’t support violent, rude, or disrespectful protests, but I completely support our First Amendment rights. It’s looking more and more like our leaders don’t; instead, they’re sending the message that “You’re technically allowed to voice your opinion, but if it’s different from ours, it’s wrong and we’ll do all we can to shut you down.”

Are we going to stand for that?

This says it all much better than I can. Guess that’s why she gets paid for it, huh?

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Excuse me, is my conservatism showing?

I have a confession: I’m not a Democrat. (Is it that obvious?)

But I’m not a Republican, either. I don’t affiliate myself with any particular political party. Mostly because I want to feel free to examine issues and candidates without the blinders that sometimes accompany partisan platforms and agendas. Instead, I try to use my common sense while researching and forming opinions about politics. I tend to agree with conservatives; that doesn’t mean I’m against change. I am very religious; that doesn’t mean I don’t value science. I believe in capitalism and free enterprise; that doesn’t mean I believe in greed and special interests.

If you want to know what I stand for (and even if you don’t, too bad; it’s my blog), I’m sure the list will sound familiar to some of you: faith, divine nature, individual worth, knowledge, choice and accountability, good works, and integrity. It’s a list of principles I’ve heard since I was young. I’ve repeated it countless times without really thinking about what it all meant. As I get older, I realize these values infiltrate every aspect of life. Even politics. I could expound on how each of these builds on the other, how each plays a foundational role in not only living your own life but building a sense of community and making an impact in the world around you.

I think choice and accountability are the two principles that set us apart from other countries, yet are in the greatest danger of becoming extinct.

For example, I was in the car the other day, the radio was on. A teaser for the upcoming news announced, “Americans are constantly complaining about how difficult and how expensive their healthcare system is. So why are they so resistant to change?” I laughed out loud. I, personally, am not resistant to change, and I’m pretty sure 99% of the rest of you aren’t, either. What I’m resistant to is the kind of change the government is currently offering: a take-over of healthcare. I’m resistant to losing my ability to make decisions about my healthcare for myself and instead having to rely on some bureaucrat who thinks he knows better.

And not just in the healthcare arena. Back before the ’08 elections, a friend and I got into a little email conversation about the issues and candidates. Somewhere along the line, the term “socialism” came up and my friend made a comment that still haunts me: “Socialism. Anytime I hear that term, it makes me laugh. Everyone is so afraid of ‘socialism;’ what’s there to be afraid of?” And continued to take the usual stance that we should all provide for the needy, we should all have equal access to goods and services, yada yada yada.

Sure. I can’t argue with that. We should be providing for the needy. We should have equivalent access to goods and services that we need. The big difference is choice. Why should government officials or laws tell me what to do with my money, time, services, possessions, or ideas? Socialist leaders make all the choices for their citizens because they think ordinary folk aren’t capable of thinking for themselves. Socialists think capitalism is evil because (gasp!) individuals come up with ideas on their own and (double gasp!) profit from them. And what good could possibly come from making a better opportunity for yourself?

Gosh, I don’t know; maybe a sense of self-worth, a sense of independence, a sense of accomplishment, value, hard work, accountability for decisions? Wow. Those sound terrible. Completely detrimental to society.

President Obama hasn’t put us on the path to socialism, he’s just taking bigger steps down the path that was laid out for him. Our government has grown and taken over freedoms administration by administration as they pass legislation about issues that should have nothing to do with them.  If anything, the legislation should come from state governments, as outlined in the Constitution. President Bush (43rd) tripled the size of the federal government. And I think it’s high time we started taking it back and holding our leaders accountable before they tell you what kind of car to drive, what temperature your home should be, how many kids to have, or how much you should be earning.

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switching gears

Dear [Senators/Congressman],

I got my first job when I was 16. I remember my first paycheck–it was $50. I was so excited because my monthly allowance had been $50 and here I had made the same amount in a part-time work week as a grocery store cashier.

I also remember going shopping soon after, thinking about how much my $50 would buy. It didn’t buy much, obviously–I looked at a few shirts before it hit me: to buy this shirt, I’d have to work X number of hours; to buy that shirt, I’d have to work Y number of hours; and if I wanted shoes or jeans or a purse on top of that, those were more hours I’d have to work.

Suddenly, my paycheck took on a whole new light. It wasn’t just cash in my teenage pocket–it was the monetary worth of my time.

I learned the value of “stuff” pretty quickly, and the value of hard work even quicker. I took pride in the fact that I no longer had to ask my dad for money to buy things that I wanted. I gained a new respect for the things he provided our family with from his paychecks.

I’m well out of college now and have been paying more and more attention to the fact that a large population of American citizens have no concept of the value of hard work, money, or what “stuff” costs.

And you–our political leaders–do very little to help them learn. Instead, you provide handouts. Handouts that send the message, “It’s okay, you don’t have to learn any important life lessons, you just have to ask and we’ll take care of you.” The recipients of such handouts rarely stop to think about who is actually paying for their benefits, and if they do realize who’s paying, they probably don’t care because hey, it’s not THEM.

And you have perpetuated the same attitude of entitlement across the broader population with the recent bailouts and programs like “Cash for Clunkers” (the CARS program). You’re printing up money that doesn’t exist to hand out to Americans to do what? Seems to me you’re trying to create a false sense of confidence in a failing economy. And you don’t seem to care who’s going to pay for it.

What good does the CARS program actually do for the environment? From the studies I’ve read, little to none. There’s nothing “green” about manufacturing new cars or destroying the “clunkers” just to save a few MPG per vehicle. Someone who trades in a Hummer (that has years and years of use ahead of it) can “upgrade” to another SUV that gets slightly better gas mileage, but the Hummer gets destroyed.

The CARS program has run out of money. That’s fine; I say END THE PROGRAM. It served its purpose of handing out cash to the people who jumped on the offer; there’s no reason to throw more money into it. Especially when that money is being printed out of thin air.

End the program, save my children the burden of paying for my neighbor’s new car.

Thank you.

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Take action!

A friend forwarded an email to me that had an outline of questions we should be asking our representatives about Obamacare. It came at a great time for me, because I’m starting to feel like a broken record when I call my Senators’ and Congressman’s offices. My bottom line is always, “The government shouldn’t be involved at all.” And although I’ve read about and thought about the issues contained in the outline, I never get around to asking about them. And, regardless of your political stance about Obamacare or controversial issues like abortion, these are questions that need to be addressed. Now.

I know I’m not the only one who’s fed up with lawmakers rushing bills through without knowing what’s in them. I know I’m not the only one who’s fed up with being ignored by our leaders. I know I’m not the only one who’s fed up with the media glazing over important details like this just to add hype to the “hope” Obama has promised. The only change I see coming from him is the change he’s taking out of my paycheck.

Look up your senators, look up your congressman, write a letter, make a phone call, attend a townhall meeting. Get involved! Make your voice heard!

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The thought of Obamacare makes me sick

The idea of a socialized healthcare system makes me sick. I don’t even know if I can adequately put into words the outrage and foreboding I feel when I think about the healthcare debate going on.

1. The government has NO BUSINESS getting involved in the marketplace! That’s the bottom line. But somehow Americans have become so dependent on the federal government that they think it’s not only right but their job to do things like regulate and bail out businesses; step in and reconstruct our entire healthcare system; hand out free food, free housing, free utilities, free education; and redistribute the wealth. The federal government has been handing out fish for so long that most Americans don’t even know they have the option to go catch their own fish, let alone possess the skills to fish for themselves. The government has created a society dependent on their handouts and this healthcare reform is just another fish.

2. The cost issue: who is going to pay for this?? The people who aren’t dependent on the handouts, that’s who. And our children. And our grandchildren. I’m sorry, but I wouldn’t work hard to go through college and grad school so I could get a job and see half of my paycheck go to support Joe Blow down the street who does nothing but sit on his stoop all day. I donate 10% of my income to charity; I’m happy to provide meals, clothing, transportation, money and support to people who need it. But I’ll be darned if my government is going to take my money and make those decisions for me. And I’ll be damned if my government is going to take my money to pay for abortions, or ER visits for illegal immigrants who not only don’t pay any taxes but don’t bother to take the necessary steps to become citizens.

3. President Obama and his supporters in Congress promise that we’ll be able to keep our doctors and plans if we’re satisfied with them. Riiiiiiiight. Sure, they’re not going to force us to switch plans. But “their” option will compete with my current option and you know what? Because I’m already paying so much in taxes for “their” option, it’s going to be cheaper for my boss to switch over to that. Where’s my choice in the matter? I have none.

4. And then what? Employers start switching to ObamaPlan and employees get dumped into the system. Big Brother, anyone? First, the government will have access to all our  medical records. (Privacy, what?) Let’s all go read 1984, Brave New World, and go watch Minority Report. I’m no conspiracy-theorist, I just like my inalienable rights as they are, thankyouverymuch.

Second, the system will be flooded. And we all know what that means, thanks to countries like Canada and Britain who are providing their citizens with such stellar access to care. Last summer, I needed eye surgery. I noticed a problem with my left eye; I called my doctor on Friday. She referred me to a specialist, who I saw on Monday. I had surgery on Tuesday. Prompt access to quality care = vision saved. Can the government guarantee the same results? I highly doubt it. If I had had to wait even a week to see my doctor, or even wait a week for surgery, my vision in that eye would be gone. And from what I know about healthcare in Canada and Britain, waiting only a week for either a doctor visit or surgery would be a miracle unto itself.

Third, competition will flatline. Ironic, isn’t it? Who’s going to want to go to years and years of medical school, work hard, go into hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt (or maybe not, since they’ll be working for the government) only to come out and make a generic salary based on the number of patients they see? Can you imagine the quality of doctors our country will produce? Mediocre, at best.

Fourth, don’t we already have a government option available for people who can’t afford coverage? Um, isn’t it called Medicare? And wow, that system is a shining beacon of successful, high-quality medical care, isn’t it?

I understand it’s a complicated issue. I understand that the lawmakers like us to think issues are too complicated to understand. But you know what? My opinion matters. So does yours. I called my senators and congressman today; did you?

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