Scrooge And The Generous Fool
One of the hot button 2016 Presidential campaign issues will be healthcare. Republicans will band around “repeal Obamacare” and will try to be as vague as possible about what would come in its place. Democrats will point to increased number of insured Americans and claim Republicans want to take health insurance coverage from millions of Americans. This issue could easily descend into a war of words with facts and truth mere casualties. Hmmm.
The GOP position, recently outlined by House Speaker Paul Ryan, is about “an individual centered” healthcare system where every effort is made to keep Government out of it. Tax credits, block grants to States, and health insurance sales across State lines are key elements of the GOP thinking. Since no level of healthcare coverage is specified, the GOP plan will become a plan based upon “the best healthcare money can buy”.
If you have a lot of money (good employer and above average income), you will be well taken care of. If you do not have much money, you will get skimpy coverage if you can get any at all.
The Democrat position will be likely “keep Obamacare” chugging along, life is good. This view is almost as misplaced as the GOP one. The Democrats will ignore the rising healthcare costs.
At the bottom of this lies a fundamental decision for Americans.
Capitalism is generally named as the one aspect that sets the American life style apart from the rest of the world. While some may rail against what they view as restraints on unfettered capitalism, most pundits still rank the US economy as the freest and most suitable for entrepreneurs. The question then is, “is universal healthcare consistent with capitalism”?
US healthcare already has socialistic elements. For example, no one can be refused urgent healthcare at a hospitals emergency room. Americans have said, through law, that we do not accept people simply dying on the street corner. Many States already set minimum coverage requirements for insurance companies selling healthcare to their residents.
Obamacare has introduced another level of regulations aimed at delivering basic healthcare to all Americans. Healthcare costs are intended to be covered by a combination of individual, employer, and government (all other tax payers). But Obamacare is far short of universal healthcare in a number of ways.
- There is no legislative statement that basic healthcare is a right.
- Hospitals, doctors and nurses, and medical supply (especially drug makers) companies remain for profit institutions and as such can set fees they charge patients at what ever level they wish.
- Most Americans have no conception of what their healthcare actually costs and appear to know even less about what life style behaviors could reduce their actual healthcare service demand.
Recently there have been egregious examples of capitalism among drug companies. In several well publicized examples, drug companies have simply raised the selling price of their products in line with “what the market will bear”, the first tenant of capitalism.
In a capitalist based system, unregulated healthcare service providers will study the reimbursement formularies and set prices so that profit is maximized. Obamacare, as with the system which preceded it, are ripe to be taken advantage of by drug companies and other healthcare service providers. As long as there is a “payer” like an insurance company, government agency, or corporation, unregulated capitalism will find ways to charge more for the service or care provided.
The GOP approach is akin to “scrooge” and tiny Tim will be lucky to receive spotty care. And to add insult to injury, healthcare cost will continue to rise unchecked for the rest of us.
The Democrat approach, Obamacare status quo, is a generous solution to healthcare delivery but a foolish one with respect to cost and wasted usage. Hmmm.
I wonder whether the two candidates will debate this or just exchange half truths?