Free Markets, Free People

Making Health Care “Better”?

If health care is so darn terrible here, how does we manage rankings like this?

[T]he World Health Organization ranked the United States No. 1 out of 191 countries for being responsive to patients’ needs, including providing timely treatments and a choice of doctors.

Isn’t that the essence of good care?

Oh, but it is expensive and not everyone has insurance.

Well they have a plan to take care of the latter problem. Get it or government will fine you and assign you:

When you file your taxes, if you can’t prove to the IRS that you are in a qualified plan, you’ll be fined thousands of dollars — as much as the average cost of a health plan for your family size — and then automatically enrolled in a randomly selected plan (House bill, p. 167-168).

And of course the way to make it less expensive is to use less of it, right?

It’s one thing to require that people getting government assistance tolerate managed care, but the legislation limits you to a managed-care plan even if you and your employer are footing the bill (Senate bill, p. 57-58). The goal is to reduce everyone’s consumption of health care and to ensure that people have the same health-care experience, regardless of ability to pay.

Paying for all of this will be a breeze:

The price tag for this legislation is a whopping $1.04 trillion to $1.6 trillion (Congressional Budget Office estimates). Half of the tab comes from tax increases on individuals earning $280,000 or more, and these new taxes will double in 2012 unless savings exceed predicted costs (House bill, p. 199). The rest of the cost is paid for by cutting seniors’ health benefits under Medicare.

There’s plenty of waste in Medicare, but the Congressional Budget Office estimates only 1 percent of the savings under the legislation will be from curbing waste, fraud and abuse. That means the rest will likely come from reducing what patients get.

You did get that line in there where it says “the rest of the cost is paid for by cutting senior’s health care benefits?” And, as Dale pointed out, they have a wonderful idea of how to manage that:

One troubling provision of the House bill compels seniors to submit to a counseling session every five years (and more often if they become sick or go into a nursing home) about alternatives for end-of-life care (House bill, p. 425-430). The sessions cover highly sensitive matters such as whether to receive antibiotics and “the use of artificially administered nutrition and hydration.”

This mandate invites abuse, and seniors could easily be pushed to refuse care.

Because they’re usually in such robust physical and mental health at the time such “counseling” would take place that they’re sure to stick up for themselves and further treatment.

No matter how tight the cost though, you can count on layer upon layer of bureaucracy finding the money necessary to exist and flourish:

Shockingly, only a portion of the money accumulated from slashing senior benefits and raising taxes goes to pay for covering the uninsured. The Senate bill allocates huge sums to “community transformation grants,” home visits for expectant families, services for migrant workers — and the creation of dozens of new government councils, programs and advisory boards slipped into the last 500 pages.

Is it any wonder Obama wants all this passed quickly? It’s the jobs portion of his “stimulus” plan. Oh, wait, that can’t be right because none of this begins to take effect until 2013 (except the taxes, which begin in 2011), one year safely on the other side of the next presidential election. In fact it won’t be fully in effect until 2018.

So what’s the rush again?

This is a legislative turkey that needs badly to be led to the chopping block. We don’t have the problem we’re being told we have, nor is there such wide-spread dissatisfaction with what we have that the government must step in.

The most recent ABC News/Washington Post poll (June 21) finds that 83 percent of Americans are very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with the quality of their health care, and 81 percent are similarly satisfied with their health insurance.

There is absolutely no rush for any of this except politically. It comes under the heading of “using political capital while you have it” and right now Obama has it. The problem, and the reason for the rush, is there a hole in the political capital bag and the assets are draining out much more quickly than they thought they would.

I’m all for having them hold the bag and watch it empty without giving them the opportunity to wreck a system that for the vast majority of us seems to be working pretty well. If they want to do anything, they can remove the insurance mandates, pass the legislation to allow a real free insurance exchange to establish itself and get the hell out of the way.


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6 Responses to Making Health Care “Better”?

  • I’m old enough to remember when health care was between a Doctor and his patient. Medical insurance was usually major medical and was inexpensive. Most employers furnished major medical to cover the serious stuff.
    What changed were full coverage insurance and many people earning a living off of health care that had nothing to do with actually caring for anyone’s health.
    Now we’re being told the answer is to add many more people to the list of those making a living off of health care without contributing anything to anyone’s health. It’s hard for me to understand why others can’t see through this.

  • People don’t see through it because in their minds it is still “free.”  They don’t make the connection between “free” or “inexpensive” services and the higher costs of living they must deal with due to the indirect influence of high-cost programs like Medicare.  People here in New York will get their noses bent out of shape over budget cuts and service reductions, but they are fascinated by the prospect of “free” health care.

  • [T]he World Health Organization ranked the United States No. 1 out of 191 countries for being responsive to patients’ needs, including providing timely treatments and a choice of doctors.
    Yes, but only rich people can afford that level of care, which isn’t FAIR!!!!  My neighbor works with a guy who knows somebody who read in the paper that this poor person somewhere doesn’t have health insurance and might die in the streets because of it.  WE GOTTA DO SOMETHING!
    Liberalism [lib-er-uh-liz-uhm, lib-ruh-] (n) – the belief that the proper role of government is to see that, if EVERYBODY can’t have something, then NOBODY can.  cf. communism; psychosis

  • McQ-

    WHat you have posted are some of the most troubling excerpts of proposed legislation I have seen in a long time. If I don’t “prove” I belong to a “qualified” plan, I get heavily fined and thrown into whatever care they draw from a hat?

    Seniors have mandatory “counseling” about the joys of ending their lives early so as not to be a burden to the rest of us?

    Trillions of dollars for this boondoggle?

    I’m so shocked right now…..

  • I’m predicting that passage of anything like this, and the subsequent fallout in the following years, will be the tipping point for violence against the government in the US.

  • If the Congress, instead of fiddling with trying to socialize the entire medical system, wished to really cut costs, they could start by putting a cap on liability lawsuits to $200,000 for pain and suffering (other costs would not be limited), and allow judges to throw out frivolous lawsuits. With doctors feeling that they wouldn’t be sued every 10 seconds, they would order fewer tests, and costs would come down. To throw a sop to the lawyers, the AMA would have to require that doctors involved in 3 (three) lawsuits that involved injury or death could not be allowed to practice medical again. A website listing doctors and their records for care could be established.

    Just think – fewer lawsuits, less crappy doctors…costs could come down. I am not saying it definitely would, but it would be a start and who knows if it would work? It is a far signt better than the crappola the Dems are trying to foist on us.

    But, alas, beholden to their trial lawyer buddies, they would rather go down in flames (although they still don’t realize it yet that they have signed on with Captain Obama and the Titanic, which is now 2 hours into taking on water) than cross one of their big lobbying groups who throw them millions in cash.

    What I outlined above would be step 1. A second phase, in year 2, would be to have the government give a stipend to all poor people who cannot afford insurance. Insurance companies would be required to pool the poor into health groups so that they could buy insurance for themselves. No waiting lists allowed, and no one with preconditions can be denied care. Illegal aliens, who account for about 20 million of the alleged “47 million without health insurance,” must be excluded. They cannot profit off of the taxes of American citizens.

    Tinkering, tinkering…the system can be fixed; anything can. But The Clown™ wants to make us into the UK and the NHS, and that sh*t just ain’t gonna fly. Not in America. Which is why his plan is dying its deserved death.