Monday, October 12, 2009

The National Health Insurance Debate.

A year ago I posted some thoughts on health care, copied below, after watching a 60 Minutes segment on a medical organization called Remote Area Medical (RAM). RAM, and their methods, are in the news again because of the federal government's health insurance initiatives.

I am not opposed to a "nationally governed" health care system because it is inherently wrong, but because it is inherently cumbersome, restrictive, and expensive. And I emphasize "inherently". The regulation of any such enterprise from a central location is a beast that no one will control. Imagine General Motors at its most bloated, times 10. The effect of more and more statutory law is always less and less justice. If a national health policy is the only way to accomplish the goal of health care for everyone then we are a nation on the downward slope of good health.

The post from a year ago on the organization Remote Area Medical. (RAM):
In political discourse, it is called framing the debate.

Example: 90 years ago, Congress was debating whether or not to install a national income tax. Today, we have the Federal Income Tax, and no Congressional debates on whether we need an income tax, just how much we should pay. That debate has been framed.

Health care funding, on the other hand, is a very current debate. After watching the CBS 60 Minutes segment on an organization named, Remote Area Medical (RAM), I think someone should ask another question. I wish someone would re-frame the debate.

RAM goes to remote areas of the world to provide desperately needed health care. A few years ago they took the idea local and brought the services to parts of the USA. Hundreds of medical professionals, from dentists to surgeons, met in Tennessee somewhere for a one-day, free service to all comers. The physicians and nurses were doing something they love for people who needed it -- and appreciated it (the report is very clear on this point, see link below).

What does this have to do with a debate? Organizations like RAM are filling a void that should not exist. And it makes me wonder if all of us wouldn't be better off by eliminating the pounds of paperwork and constant threat of medical malpractice, like RAM does on their missions. Why can't we go back to simpler system where an MD is concerned more with the patient's health, than with paperwork and litigation? If the professionals working with RAM could provide care that way, there, why not in their home office?

Am I being naive? Probably.

But I go back to the title of this post, what damage have we done by allowing medical lawsuits and burdensome paperwork ruin common medical care?

We will have a national healthcare system in the next 5 years -- which reminds me of an old Roman political maxim: the loss of personal and civic virtue ushers in decadence, usurpation follows in the name of order.

We live in the American age of centralized government usurpation. It will get worse.
CBS 60 Minutes report on RAM:
(FINAL NOTE: I was wrong about one thing. I said we will have a national health policy in 5 years. We will have it in a year or two.)


Anonymous said...

surprised there are no comments--this is a good post

Anonymous said...

Your last quote is absolutly correct. When an individual lives a disciplined life, abundance and overflow is the result. When abundance comes, decadence follows and lack arrives soon thereafter.

We, as a nation and as individuals, have gone through an unprecedented period of abundance because of the discipline of our forefathers.

Oh, and the Chinese had nowhere else to put their money...

Francis Shivone said...

Anon -- thanks, but the reason there are no comments is because readers are too polite to give me a hard time. I had hoped to get a comment from Jake or Becca.

Jake Good said...

I've been having a hard time coming up with something to say that's thoughtful...

I think personally, which may or may not follow my crazy liberal ways, that my thoughts towards health care are more around:

"Helping *anyone* become healthy at *any* cost"

It's a debate between what people think is the right way to approach the same problem and what things we're willing to give up in order to accomplish those goals.

Everyone with a beating heart would like to see a peaceful world where everyone lives healthy. But people are arguing right now between two evils... there aren't any other innovation solutions to the problem, partially because of the impact that is already there based on what we have...

Problem: there are too many people who can't afford health care and need to be healthy.

Solution: write laws that state that everyone can have affordable insurance.

Two current thoughts:

A) Force private entities into situations that lower health care costs to the consumer.

B) Allow the government to run a public health care plan option, so that people could afford it as well.

Here's what I think is wrong with A) and B), but just like in every other situation where you can't pick between two "perfect" solutions... you have to pick which you would rather live with.

A) This still wouldn't work to our advantage because a private business entity will ALWAYS (no matter what) think of themselves first. No... matter... what... And we have no control over it at all. We can't walk into their board meetings and remove people who don't act on our behalf. Once the government puts regulations on said business, the complaint comes in that "the government is reaching too far into private enterprise"... and the same circular argument continues.

B) Giving a public option, as you also said, would be more paperwork, more inefficiencies, and cost the taxpayers more money.

A&B) Unfortunately large companies have more control over both situations than we do as a company. Lobbyists have access to deep pockets and people are greedy, it's human nature.

So thinking about it at a micro level... as a taxpayer I could be paying more taxes, but as a nation, this would allow more opportunities for people to have health care. OR I could be paying more in premiums (to help cover costs for the lower income people) to private entities, where fewer amounts of board executives and employees would reap the benefits of pieces of my dollars.

I want to also think on this from a level of what control I would have. It's technically easier for me to remove people from government who don't act the way I want than it is to remove people from a large insurance company. Don't believe me? If that were the case, they why the hell are big bad, nasty companies still around?

I also want to think on ethical boundaries as well... Governments and companies are both setup to serve her people, but the populations that they serve are drastically different. The governments people are citizens... and a companies people are it's board, investors, and employees first... it's customers second. I know I know... it's all about the consumer and consumers can "control" what businesses charge, etc. For a lot of companies yes, for insurance companies, no. They would rather see us uninsured than lowering their rates so they could afford to take care of us. It's exactly why we *need* a reform.

Lots to say... lots to think about... I'm ending this quickly :)

Francis Shivone said...

Actually Jake, part 2 of my comments will address exactly what you have brought up, which is, that we should not allow the interests of the insurance companies dictate what we do. I think you make excellent points. What we have is a mess. What we want, as you say, is quality health care for all regardless of income or ability to pay. Thanks.

me said...

Well chiming in as a Brit. Mandatory withdrawal of HI from your paycheck. Long, Long waits for care if at all... I mean years for a gall bladder unless it bursts or becomes and emergency and a line in the ER where Traffic accident victims join the line.
To avoid this scenario you pay out of your own pocket for Private insurance.. Same cost as here and yell out "Private Insurance" in the ER and you get immediate care . Otherwise you will likely die in the wait. I am serious!\Old folk will be denied proceedures as they have less time to enjoy yhe benfits... ie pacemakers etc. It has happened to all my friends and family. The ones with PI got good care the others waited until emergencies or died.