Friday, November 07, 2008

Just f**king fix it.

I read Obama’s plans for Health Care this morning…and I have to say I think it’s a load of bullshit.

Don’t get me wrong, Obama’s plan is no worse than McCain’s was, it’s just that it’s still treating Health Care like a business. Health Care simply doesn’t work when it’s treated as a business…and here’s why:

Let’s talk economics for a moment.

I think most people understand the concept of supply and demand. Well when it comes to healthcare what we have is a complete and total seller’s market.

Getting treatment for a disease isn’t like buying a new car. You can’t decide to shop around, or decide to leave it until next year. You basically have the choice of paying whatever your hospital asks…or you can die.

This is why my hospital charged me $200 for a $2 pill that probably cost less than five cents to make.

So now we come to the topic of insurance.

The common idea seems to be that the way you get around the high medical prices is to buy insurance, so your insurance company will pay those high prices for you.

The thing people miss is that if your medical treatment costs a thousand dollars, your insurance company sure as hell isn’t paying for it out of their own pocket. The second fact is that the insurance companies are also businesses. They aren’t required by law to give you a good deal or make health insurance affordable…in fact, they’re required by law to make as much money as possible for their shareholders.

So, the way it works is that insurance companies have to keep premiums high enough to pay for all those five-hundred dollar throat-swabs, the sixty-dollar Ace bandages and the hundred-dollar a pill prescriptions…and still make sure there’s plenty left over as profit.

That’s why medical insurance doesn’t really work like insurance, but works more like a discount program. The problem is that just by the nature of medical treatment, when you add up what you spend on premiums versus the money you save…you’re almost always in the red.

Basically, you’re paying three hundred dollars a month to save fifty dollars a month on your prescriptions. However, you can’t stop paying that three hundred dollars a month, because next month you might need a ten thousand dollar hospital stay.

This is why I don’t understand why people seem to be so vehemently against the idea of socialized health-care.

Actually, scratch that, I do understand. It’s because whenever it’s brought up, some jackass stands up and says: “I’m in perfect health and I pay my own medical insurance! Why should I be forced to pay for someone else’s medical treatment?”

Well, here’s the thing:

If you have medical insurance already paying for other people’s medical treatment.

Seriously, do you think your insurance company takes your premiums every month and puts it in a pile that’s earmarked just for you?

No. Your money goes into a central fund that they use to pay off everyone’s claims.

There’s the truth of it. Socialized healthcare and private healthcare work in exactly the same way. Everyone pays a certain amount into a central fund that’s used to pay for everyone’s healthcare. The only difference is that with socialized healthcare there’s no slice of the pie being taken as profit, and as every working individual in the US is paying into that fund, the ‘premium’ is one hell of a lot lower.

So let’s look at what social healthcare would actually be like:

There are currently approximately 300,000,000 living in the USA. Let’s assume that roughly half of that number are at working age and are currently employed.

Now, let’s say that every month, about forty bucks goes out of your paycheck along with all the other taxes for healthcare. That’s forty dollars multiplied one hundred and fifty million people.

That’s six billion dollars a month, or seventy-two billion dollars a year to pay for healthcare.

Now, the other major thing I hear people complain about when it comes to socialized healthcare is that there’s a total lack of choice. Basically, if I’ve got tons of money, why should I be forced to go to the same state-run hospital as everyone else when my current insurance pays for amazing private hospitals?

The answer to this one is simple.

Socialized healthcare doesn’t mean the end of private healthcare. If you choose to do so, you can still pay for private insurance and treatment.

Yeah? But if I’m paying for private healthcare, why should I be forced to pay for socialized healthcare as well?

Ok, here’s the good part. Just like I mentioned at the start of this post, we’re currently living in a total seller’s market when it comes to healthcare. People pay ridiculous prices for medical treatment because they absolutely have to. What socialized healthcare also brings to the table is competition for private healthcare.

For example, say that you got sick and needed a two week hospital stay. That stay will cost you about ten thousand dollars. Right now, you’ll pay it because you have to, even if it means declaring bankruptcy when you get out.

However, if you had the option of getting that same treatment for free, only you’d spend those two weeks on a ward instead of in a private room…how many people would think the ten grand for a private room was worth it?

Basically, your insurance premiums are going to go down because the insurance companies find themselves in the position of having to attract customers instead of the ‘take it or leave it’ approach they can afford to use now. This means that even paying for socialized healthcare on top of your private insurance, you’re going to be paying less than you are right now.

I’d like to finish this post with one last point.

I’ve heard people argue and complain that socialized healthcare just doesn’t work, and they can quote a list of reasons as long as my arm as to why it won’t work.

My answer to those people is to look at England, Canada and most of Europe. In England and Canada you can break your arm, walk into any hospital and get it set and put in a cast…and walk out without it costing you a single penny. That’s socialized healthcare, and the last time I checked, neither England or Canada was being forced to the brink of bankruptcy because of it.


Woman atop her Soapbox said...

I agree... as somebody who lived in US and UK.

You pay for both..either by premium or by taxes.

But in the UK, you don't have to worry how much your deductible is or you copayment or how much an ambulance is going to cost because in the US, you THEN have to pay all of those as well as the premium.

You won't be denied a service or your credit ruined with medical debt because your carried has to have pre-approval for a test you need to see if you are dying.

You don't have to worry in your retirement that you are going to go bankrupt or have your credit ruined because you get sick.

One "right" Americans are forgetting is that everybody should have the right to be well.

And in the UK.. you have things like services for the disabled (they put hand rails in the bathroom and up the stairs free of charge for my husband with MS) and home visits for mothers. Yes, after birth, you get to stay home instead of loading up and going to the doctor. It's not a perfect system but it's working.

There's my rant.


Kelly said...

I spent my entire life in England before moving to the US and the thing that sucks the most here in the US is the healthcare. Since I arrived I have been suffering with what I hope is only anxiety/mild depression but since I didn't have insurance, i couldn't go to a doctor and find out. Now that I have filled all my paperwork out and I HAVE insurance, I find that because I have been suffering with this since BEFORE I signed for the insurance, they still wont cover it.

In England if I felt i'll, I went to the doctor. Plain and simple. Since i'm a bit of a hypochondriac too, i went regularly.

I honeslty think that if i was ever to get seriously ill, it would be cheaper for Toby and I to emigrate back to England as I would immediately be re-eligible for NHS healthcare, and as my husband - so would he!

Evanesce In 2008 said...

I had this conversation with my brother a few weeks back.

When I said that I'm ready to try socialized medicine, he got really pissed, but when I mentioned that we've talked about fixing health care for 20 years and nothing's happened, he didn't have much to say.