The Healthcare Debate is ramping up in Washington as the Republican Senate continue to negotiate among their numbers to undo the damage done by the Affordable Care Act, known colloquially as Obamacare, which has seen coverage prices skyrocket and participation in the system decline even though it is now a CRIME to not participate!
The Republicans have quite a mess on their hands and are attempting to correct the problems specifically but are running into snags.
As with any other entitlement, once someone has gotten something from the collective state, anytime that person is expected to take care of themselves they are LOSING something. That’s the problem with any welfare program. It is like an addictive drug. Once one person is on the program, taking them off the program causes some level of pain. Except, unlike drugs which are blamed for that pain and suffering, it is the person who is taking it away from you because ... they’re evil white men or something equally as hyperbolic and vitriolic.
Well, I have some bad news for both the Republicans and the Democrats, this jumbled mess of private insurers and public legislation is not going to be solved by more government intervention.
Despite the claims to the contrary, the problem with our healthcare system has more to do with the fact that is not driven by the market but this terrible chimera of government and crony capitalism. Two solutions come out of all of this: either we go to a single healthcare system (which I have already pointed out the massive drain on our economy not to mention the surrendering of our rights to the central government that it will cause) or an even more market friendly healthcare system.
Let’s first consider basic economics here. Anytime you include a middle man in the workings of a transaction, that transaction will inevitably be more expensive. It makes sense as that middle man is not going to participate without some level of remuneration. The insurance companies are these middlemen and they are the problem.
Now before the Progressives start agreeing with me and start promoting Neo-Marxist Socialized Medicine, replacing a private middleman that competes with other insurance companies with a singular central government is making the middle man LARGER and making it a MONOPOLY. Socialized Medicine is not the solution to this problem. Insurance companies function as a piggy bank of people’s money that they then dive into to pay for procedures or medications. We all pay premiums. Money is used to pay the doctors. However, like any company they have employees to pay, infrastructure to maintain, and are driven by profit motive. That means that that money we have pooled from our premiums must also go to maintaining this company. To ensure the maximization of that profit, insurance companies will try to give as little money as possible to the hospitals-- who in turn pass on the difference to us.
This has been made even worse as insurance companies are now obligated to take on high-risk patients that are more expensive to maintain. I do not believe cutting these people off from insurance is justifiable. However, they should not be costed out of the insurance racket. But, this has led to higher across the board premiums for the rest of us, especially the young and healthy.
Also, the provisions of Obamacare demand that each plan now cover basically everything. Men's plans even have maternity care. I am no expert on human anatomy, but at what point will a man need coverage for giving birth? I know it’s the 21st Century and being male is no longer a set standard, but this nutty provision is just a visualization of redistribution of wealth. I do not need maternity care, but a lot of women who are poorer than I do so I must throw my money towards them. The insurance companies, in turn, hike the premiums just a little bit further.
These costs are supposed to be overset with government grants and tax breaks but the corruption alone of private enterprises, many of whom contribute funds to candidates who in turn promote this money flow, it’s hard to imagine that that is offsetting anything.
No matter how you cut it, having to pool resources into a middle man system is only leading to higher expenditures. Add to that the traditional laws of always providing health care needs regardless of the ability to pay, and even having insurance doesn’t guarantee that your medical bills will be kept low. My deductible, for example, is $10,000. In other words, unless I am set on fire while being hit by a train, I will be spending out of pocket on all of my medical needs even though I am ALSO providing premium payments to the insurance companies. These high deductibles are how they offset the cost of those high-risk patients and maintain a healthy profit.
So, what is to be done? In short, we need to cut out the middlemen.
More on the conservative plan for healthcare to come in a follow-up.
“Don’t complain about the problem if you haven’t got any ideas on the solution,” is a good saying. Therefore, I’d now like to talk about what will work. (Hint: whatever Obama did, do exactly the opposite.
I believe this country needs to completely restructure its entire medical system in three ways: direct payments to hospital/healthcare providers, deregulation to allow for new companies into the medical field, and legal reforms regarding lawsuits against medical practitioners. The first one is probably the hardest to accomplish especially with so much money and influence the health insurance companies have, not to mention the reaction people working in the health insurance racket would have to the prospect of erasing an entire sector of the economy from existence.
I propose more direct payments of individuals to hospitals and healthcare providers. Imagine that you live in an area where a healthcare guild is created among the hospitals and doctors. You pay for membership for this guild’s services and pay them the premiums directly, rather than to the middle man. It would almost be like a club membership which would then give you access to the hospital and doctors at free or reduced cost.
This direct payment would cut out significant bleeding of funds away from doctors towards insurance companies and would help lessen the cost of providing these health care needs. This membership could become a national syndicate of hospitals and doctors who, instead of being paid by a second-hand source who has already taken a sizable cut, the funds would go to the maintenance of the healthcare provider itself.
The second need of this healthcare overall would be the deregulation of new medical centers and service providers to create a more competitive market. Innovators would be able to come along with better services at a better price. The driving force behind changes in price and quality come from new companies entering the market with a revolutionary idea. Look at what Uber and Lyft have done for the cab services, for example.
However, we have passed thousands of laws, regulations, mandates, restrictions, and costs of compliance that make it nearly impossible to enter into the market. New medical practices, for example, must obtain a Certificate of Need from the government to open up these centers who often times deny these innovators access to protect existing, and well-paying campaign contributing, medical companies. If we could harness the power of the free market we would start to see clinics open up that may simply charge a la carte prices on basic services. In addition to this, such services would now have to compete in a market with price visibility. It is not often that you go to the doctor and see the bill BEFORE they conduct the service. By having price visibility, we could compare prices among competing centers which would force these institutions to keep prices low and their product high quality and accessible.
Lastly, we need to reform how doctors become targets of law suits and litigations for performing, or not performing, certain things on a patient.
Doctors are continually targets of frivolous law suits that claim they didn’t do enough in regard to providing healthcare needs. This has led to doctors frequently having to cover all bases and perform tests and procedures that would be unnecessary but are performed to CMA themselves. If a patient comes in with a sore throat, there is a 99% it is viral or bacterial but they will perform a cancer screening anyways because of that 1% what-if. That means another service you must pay for just so they can sleep at night knowing that they have solid defense in any potential law suit. I am not saying don’t hold them accountable for malpractice, just that we reconsider what that word means.
Of course, the question will still arise what will you do for people who are unemployed and or too poor to provide for themselves healthcare services? I don’t want to seem uncaring and I would say that this need would be made up by the generous spirit of their fellow Americans in some way. However, injecting any middleman like the government or a private enterprise will only lead to the same problems we have right now.
Already, medical centers offer reduced cost medical needs and charity organizations offer assistance in a variety of medical needs. I would say those institutions should be granted tax breaks and incentives to continue to expand their aid to the less fortunate. Giving it to a private enterprise will result in profit-motive driving up the cost and giving it to the government is like injecting yourself with a virus, excuse my pun, it will only get more intrusive and spread to other aspects.
The problem with this country is not that there isn’t enough government in our health care system but rather there is too much. We not only have private enterprises partnering with the government to line their own pockets in exchange for votes on certain legislations, we have government becoming more intrusive into our daily lives and driving up the cost of living it as a result.
I say, in short, get rid of both of these hindrances to affordable health care and give it back to the citizen and their doctors.