Content Warning: If you are really into partisan politics, Republican OR Democrat, or if you frighten easily, (Tiff put your fingers in your ears right now and sing La La La La!) you should probably not read this post. I'm probably going to step on your toes or scare the snot out of you.
OK, still with me?
I've had a few requests to explain the health care debate, i.e. "I know the health care bill is bad but I'm not sure why." and "What's all the hub-bub about the government option?"
I am not an expert by any stretch of the imagination. I'm going to attempt to articulate my position which you should take with a grain of salt. Do your own research and form your own opinion based on your core values and principals.
We have actually had this same argument back in the 90s and we decided against universal health care. Hillarycare, anyone?! But if you're like me, you were young and healthy back then and thought you didn't need health care so you didn't really pay attention. But now you've got aging parents and children and suddenly it's a discussion worth having again.
So let's start at the beginning. Politicians in both political parties campaigned on health care reform. During the campaign you heard this said a lot: "America is the richest country in the world! It is unacceptable that 46 million hardworking Americans are uninsured!" It was presupposed that everyone agreed with this statement; the only disagreement was on HOW to fix it.
No one ever challenges the idea that America is the richest country. The claim is made to imply that we are so rich we can afford to pay more. Not so much. Let's say you have a neighbor who has a big, fancy house and a shiny new car in the driveway. You'd probably assume based on appearances that he's the richest guy in the neighborhood. But if you knew that he had a first and second mortgage on that house and he borrowed the money for the car and he couldn't afford to pay his bills, would you still think he was rich? Right. Not so much. That's America. And America paying for universal health care is like your bankrupt neighbor pulling out his Visa and charging a trip to the Bahamas. It's just stupid.
Are there really 46 million uninsured? Not so much. That figure makes a great campaign line or eye-catching headline but it's exaggerated. First, that figure includes approximately 10 million illegal aliens or other non-citizens who likely wouldn't qualify for health care anyway. About 18 million of the remaining 36 million uninsured have a household income greater than $50,000 and over half of them have a household income of more than $75,000 which is more than enough to afford health insurance if it were a priority for them. I'd be willing to bet that a lot of those households don't go without cell phones, cable and high-speed internet. So if we eliminate all those people we're left with the ones who truly need help. And we already help them. Close to 30% of our country's population already lives under some type of government health care. And another estimated 14 million American's qualify for it but haven't bothered to apply for it. The true number of uninsured Americans is somewhere around 3% which is still too many but is vastly different from the number our politicians and media like to toss around.
Our health care system is not perfect. Could we make some improvements? Sure. Do we need a new behemoth government program that we can't even afford? Not so much. If we were really serious about bringing down the cost of health care we could have done that already. No, what we're really talking about is growing the size of government. Because progressives think you are too stupid to manage your own life. Government is their answer to everything.
Frankly, I think the whole debate can be settled by answering one simple question:
Do you want the same people who run the post office to cut your chest open for heart surgery?
Let's say you've decided you're ok with that risky proposition. Let me ask you another question:
You think that a government who has brought us Medicare/Medicaid, Social Security, the IRS and the DMV can possibly run an efficient and cost-effective health care program?
Or ask yourself this:
Do you really believe that the government who gave us Amtrak can be expected to run a health care system that pays for itself?
If you're still reading this, by now I'm sure you've figured out that I'm not really in favor of nationalizing health care. It's not because I hate poor people or because I want children to die in the streets. I just happen to think that government is the problem NOT the solution. Everyone complains about our "employer-based" insurance. Do you know why we have that system? Government poked its nose where it didn't belong and ,presto-chango, it created a whole new set of problems in addition to the one they were trying to fix. During the Great Depression, government decided it was a good idea to mess with the free-market system by using wage controls. Employers had to find another way to attract the best employees and since they couldn't lure them with higher wages they started offering fringe benefits like health insurance. Then, in 1943 the IRS further encouraged employer-provided insurance by declaring them tax free.
That's just one example of government creating more problems than it solves. So do you really trust them to get it right this time? Do you really think they won't create a lot of unintended consequences with all the regulations in a health care bill? I hope you're willing to bet your life on it....because you are.
In my next post I'll try to address the things that I think are wrong with the bill that just passed the House. And believe me, there are many, many things. It will take more than one post. You'll need to plan to stay awhile.