As we move forward with the health care debate, we’re bombarded by a constant rhetoric stream, and it appears we’re in a headlong rush to do something, simply for the sake of doing it! So let’s slow down and find a no-nonsense approach to the problem.
First of all, let’s start with the numbers. We continually hear the 47 million number thrown around. When we take out those who earn more than $50,000, unenrolled Medicaid-eligibles, illegal aliens, and the short term uninsured (4 months or less), that number drops down to somewhere around 7-8 million. We can argue about the specific number all day long, but that would be like teaching the proverbial pig to sing. The fact remains there are millions of Americans chronically uninsured. So how do we fix it?
Now,let’s look at the real problem: COST! I know a lot of people would like to blame the big, bad, insurance companies, but insurance costs a lot because health care costs a lot. Health insurance companies run at a profit margin of around 5 percent (falling in recent years). Life insurance companies run at a profit margin of over 8 percent!! I don’t hear anyone griping about that, and that is far higher than those evil oil companies! Health care is expensive; consequently, so is health insurance.
At this point, we’ve determined the number of uninsured and the reason for it. So, whom are we really talking about? People who make too much to qualify for assistance and too little to afford private health insurance on their own. For the sake of argument, and using round numbers, let’s say they have annual incomes ranging from $20,000-40,000. What must we do to include them and get them covered?
To begin with, let’s raise the income level qualifications to $30,000 (still dealing in fictitious Hank numbers), since many people find themselves earning just over the strict income limits established by the government, making them ineligible for any assistance. Then, to include the rest who can almost afford it, we need to take action to reduce costs, such as instituting tort reform (which will reduce the practice of “defensive medicine”), digitizing medical records, launching a campaign to focus on and provide incentives for preventative care, cracking down on fraud waste and abuse, etc. This should bring the vast majority of the $30,000-$40,000 crowd into the loop.
This will all need to coincide with REAL REFORM of Medicare and Medicaid. I feel we have the best health care system in the world; even if you don’t, you know it’s one of the best! I know this is only one possible approach, but it’s a start, a start that wouldn’t require government intervention or control, wouldn’t cost over a trillion dollars, and wouldn’t break our incredible healthcare system. What it would do is reduce health care costs for all, and allow more people to obtain insurance.
Do we need a public option, funded by taxpayers who must also pay for their own, without government help? Do we need sweeping reform? Can the federal government do a better job than the insurance companies, and is there anything, anywhere, in the Constitution that authorizes government to take this extraordinary action? More importantly, is the government empowered to require free individuals to purchase something they may not want or need? We have an amazing health care system here in this country; let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater!