You are hereby warned that this is a rant and it is political in nature. Also, it is not in support of the current health care reform bills being bandied about by Congress. So if you think they're on the right track and doing what needs to be done, you might want to stop reading right now. Just saying.
Every article I read about health care reform makes me sick to my stomach. Today's latest was that a non-partisan budget director stated today that the plans currently being lobbed about will only cause health care costs to go up and will do nothing to help keep them down. And in the article (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_health_care_overhaul
), quotes from the bills' supporters just poo-poo these warnings.
Now, I'll agree that we have a problem with health care in this nation. I will not agree, ever, that the answer lies with drastic government intervention. I believe in small government for a reason, not the least of which is that at its best, our government is mildly incompetent and incredibly inefficient, and at its worst, our government is grossly incompetent and downright immoral and corrupt. I would not entrust most of Congress with my laundry, much less something as important as my health care.
For me personally, the piece of the legislation that worries me the most is the plan to require everyone to carry health insurance or to pay a fine. Well, I am one of the 50 million people who are currently uninsured. I am uninsured for several reasons, not the least of which is that I cannot afford to purchase health insurance. If these bills are passed, I'm going to have a choice of paying a fine I can't afford or purchasing government subsidized health insurance (probably the government-run plan) that I don't want and probably still won't really be able to afford.
My issues with having to purchase such insurance are three-fold:
1) I don't purchase health insurance as is because I feel that the insurance industry is run immorally and borderline illegally. I would prefer to start a medical costs savings account to which I contribute more than a monthly insurance payment each month. Given my age and current physical health, I should be able to set aside enough money to cover myself in case of medical issues down the road. The only problem here is if I face a major medical emergency before I have the funds set aside to pay for it. And that is, admittedly, a large problem that I haven't worked out how to overcome yet. Buying health insurance would take care of that issue but would also soak up most of the money I would need to set aside in order to not have to carry health insurance later on. It's kind of a catch-22 situation.
2) I fully anticipate that the government-subsidized insurance (particularly if it's government-run insurance) will be substandard. I foresee fewer options in my health care and far more limitations than I would have with private insurance. I also foresee a lot of things not being covered such as eyecare and dental care, despite the importance of both of these. And then there is the issue of what happens when we have a recession and budget crunches. Look at what's happening to our teachers and in our schools now. I can only imagine what hospitals who are dependent on the government funding will have to cut back on or buy more cheaply. It terrifies me to consider our hospitals being run like our public schools.
3) I have a moral objection to buying subsidized insurance. I have long declared that I do not believe I should have to subsidize others' anything, including health care. I do not like being forced into hypocrisy by my own government. Just as I don't believe I should have to pay for my neighbor's hospital visits, so too do I believe he should not be obligated to help pay for mine. Unfortunately, the current bills requiring everyone to purchase health insurance or pay a steep fine give me little choice until I can make enough money to be able to afford my own unsubsidized health insurance. (Of course, with the way I expect taxes to go up for everyone, I figure it'll be awhile before I'm able to keep enough of my paychecks to actually be able to make a living and buy insurance.)
Frankly, I don't believe that government interference on the scale they're talking about is going to do anything but frak the system up even worse than it already is. Even if, somehow, the current folks pull off a miracle and establish the perfect health care system (and they won't because they're rushing this through and not sitting down and really giving it the time it needs--which is the sort of typical government action that leads to horrible laws being passed, so no one should be surprised when this all blows up in our faces), even if they somehow do that, the next administration, even if it's the same party, will feel the need to meddle with it, to tinker, to make things "better," and within three administrations, the entire health care system will be in much worse shape than it is right now.
No, I'm not a cynic. Not me.
On the other hand, I do support the proposition that insurance companies be forced to offer insurance to everyone, regardless of pre-existing conditions. And I am okay with this even if it does mean my prices go up so that I am subsidizing others' insurance costs. I don't like that I end up subsidizing others' costs, but I can suck up some of it if it means that insurance companies can no longer cherry-pick only the healthier patients and then still charge them out the wazoo.