Thought for the day: the thing that has me most worried about the health care debate in the US is not whether ObamaCare is terrible or whether the punishment for not buying insurance is a tax or not. It’s that the politicians and health care providers seem to have us exactly where they want us–arguing amongst each other for who is going to pay the bill rather than focusing on the fact that the bill is something in the range of double what it really ought be. I mean, this is not really about socialism and independent freedom as we’re constantly trying to make it out to be. If that’s what you think, there is a distinct possibility you’re missing a serious truth about the way the country works.
Or maybe it’s just me, I dunno.
After all, our healthcare system is already socially funded. Medicare and Medicade are, of course, the most obvious examples. The emergency room is the less obvious example, but just as relevant. No one will be turned down at an emergency room, and that is truly the most expensive healthcare that is possible to exist. We pay for it, of course. Some in taxes, and some in inflated costs of other hospital services. But we pay for it, and you don’t see folks lining up to protest that fact.
The more I learn about the various systems of the world, and the more I think about us here in the little old US, the more I think that it just really doesn’t matter what system we have insofar as who pays for it. It costs X dollars to fund healthcare, and those X dollars are coming from the folks who have dollars in some form or another. That seems to be the base process. The question of who pays for it is the wrong question.
And so, you might ask, what is the right question?
Simple, I think. The answer is that there are two correct questions, and those two are (in the correct order of priority): (1) Which system holds the greatest promise to actually reduce the real cost of healthcare, and (2) which system does the best at improving the quality of life of the most people?
I would love to hear the people of our country focus on these two questions–to agree that these are the two questions that matter most. Until we get to that point, the discussion is not particularly worthwhile, because in all seriousness, neither our current system nor Obamacare seems to be particularly useful in resolving the first and most important issue. And in my very humble opinion, the cost issues is the driver. It doesn’t matter if you or I have to pay for anything if neither one of us can afford it.
Don’t think cost is number one? Seriously? Here is a report I linked to earlier that describes costs of various country’s health care as a percentage of GDP, and here is a blog post by Roger Ebert regarding the victim of the recent shooting in Aurora who (1) has no insurance, and (2) racked up $2M in health care costs in two days.
$2M in two days?
I don’t know about you but when I hear $2M for two days, the question of who pays it is not the first thing that comes to my mind. It makes me wonder about our politicians that they merely flame the fires of our conversation. I mean, you know? It feels like I’m watching this huge game of three-card Monte with the government as the dealer and the media as the shill.
Then again, maybe it’s just me. Dunno.