Friday, July 10, 2009

Universal Coverage?

President Obama is claiming that his plan for health care reform is no more than just providing another option for people, that would be cheaper than regular insurance companies. He says one would be able to keep their own insurance if they wanted to. He says this is not an effort to socialize medicine. That having this option available will just serve to keep the insurance companies in check, and keep costs down for everyone.

I do not believe him. First of all, I do not think any of his claims as to how the health care industry will look should this 'government insurance company' be created. Nor do I believe that this is not really effort to get closer to socializing medicine.

I will tell you why. The reason the President and his cronies are seeking to get this government option created is that it will then allow them in the future to make more and more steps towards socializing medicine. By having this system running, the government can say "look, we have been involved in running the health care for some time now. We are covering millions of people already. Socializing the system, would only be a minor change."

I have proof. Part of the health care reform is that ALL businesses will by law have to provide some type of health care for their employees. However, at the same time, the health care benefits will be taxed. This would make it more expensive to provide the health care. So, by forcing businesses to provide health care, and at the same time making it more expensive to do so, the businesses will be forced to seek a cheaper option, and waiting with open arms will be the 'government option'. ( And do not be surprised if there is a special deal for lower taxes on the health benefits for the businesses that choose the government option, as an incentive to get more businesses to join.) If all they were seeking to do was provide another option, and mainly to have more people covered, why would they be making it harder for employers to cover their employees at the same time.

Businesses may also choose to balance the increased costs by downsizing. If the expense of covering an employee goes up, the business will choose to have less employees to cover. It can not be expected that when the government raises taxes and makes it more expensive to run a business, that businesses will not find ways to keep their profits up. The easiest way to do this is by lowering the expense of running the business, and the easiest way to do this is by eliminating some salaries.

Now, in regards to keeping your current insurance. This might be true for some, but for many this will not be the case. First of all, for the above mentioned reason that many companies will be forced to switch to the government option. And the people who loose their jobs as a result of this induced downsizing will most likely have no option other than the government one, if they want coverage. (They will report this as a sign of how good the system is, by showing the recently unemployed people who are now covered by the government option. They will neglect to mention, however, that it was the health care reform that made those very same people unemployed.)

Secondly because there will have to be changes. The insurance companies will have to deal with the new competition. They will make the money back in some way. It might be by paying the doctors less, which will lead to less doctors accepting your insurance, (or possibly any insurance at all). Or by hiking up your co pays, and or premiums. They might also choose to stop covering certain expensive procedures.

The government is claiming that this is a fair playing field. It is not, and this leads to multiple problems. It is not a leveled playing field for two reasons. First of all there is no one to regulate the government option. Second of all, they do not have to make a profit. This is the main problem. By not having to make a profit they can easily charge less than the insurance companies, hence not a leveled playing field. Another thing they can do is provide less quality coverage. They have no burden of attracting customers, so they can do whatever they wish. Your current insurance has to be showing you that they have a wide range of doctors, can cover a lot of procedures, low co payments, and so on, in order for them to entice you to choose them over their competition. The government is not forced to do this, for they are not in the business of making money.

This is where the rationing of care comes into play. If the main objective when providing the coverage is not to supply the best product on the market, what will be pushing them to do more? Nothing, and that is just what they will do. They will find people who they choose not to provide certain services to, such as the terminally ill, the elderly, or people that can technically survive without the procedure will find themselves waiting in long lines. The government being involved in the game, and covering a large amount of people indirectly does lead to a rationing of care. When they choose what they will cover, they are deciding what will be done by the medical world. If they choose to not cover a certain medication or procedure it will slowly stop being given or preformed. This effect has been seen through medicaid already.

Another thing that bothers me about the government option is the doctors' end. Now, a physician is not obligated to accept insurance, or he can choose which ones he will accept. What will be the case here? Will the doctors be forced to accept the government option? How much will the government pay them? And as I said before, I see this whole change resulting very possibly in a decrease in the pay of doctors. This will lead to a decrease in the amount of doctors, and the quality of the doctors. And remember, not only will the physicians make less, but so will the drug companies. This will result in a decrease of activity from them. Also not a good thing.

So do not be fooled by this man and his plans. This is by all means the beginning of the path to socializing medicine. It will not lead to lower costs. And it will result in higher taxes, and more national debt. If the system covering many people now, medicaid and medicare, is in debt and getting worse, how does it make sense to make the coverage larger? It does not. Just like a great deal of what this administration is doing does not make sense.

But Obama has a blackberry and is cool, so who cares, right? Soon enough we will have no choice but to care. But by then, it might be too late.

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