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Thread: A Simple Defense of Universal Healthcare

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  1. #1

    Default A Simple Defense of Universal Healthcare

    This was in a different thread, but I thought I would detach it and get some feedback from others. In my opinion, we never discuss healthcare reform, but instead argue about health care financing reform. As a result, the debate always comes down to who is paying for whom instead of having any real debate about what can be done to improve the system for all.

    I think its time we thought about the fundamental principles of what a government should do about health care, and frankly I come to this conclusion- we should develop universal healthcare- probably by state instead of federal, but a basic amount of coverage for all in a similar way that we provide a basic protection for all through the army, police and fire services.

    Here goes:

    I believe that human existence has a couple of central paradoxes. One important one is the fact that we are both individuals and independent and social and interdependent. We are individual citizens, but always citizens of something bigger.

    As individuals we should always standup for each others' individual choices of conscience, up to a point.
    As citizens, we should bind together to accomplish our collective hopes, and bind together to protect our selves from common ills, up to a point.

    The basic outlines of this:

    As for our hopes- I think the government does need to continue to invest in basic infrastructure. That is the basis of individual economic growth- education, transportation, communication, coordinated energy policy and research for research sake- so many breakthroughs in the modern era require more than profit motive to get off the ground. With out govt. initiative in military, space and university research- there is no Steve Jobs or Zuckerburg.

    As for our fears- there are certain ills of the world that effect us as a group, regardless of our individual merit or responsibility. There are bad things that happen to us, more or less randomly and those things we should bind together in common cause. In my opinion these ills are:

    Invasion, Crime, Fire and other Natural Disasters, Illness and disease.

    In other words we should never tell people in these areas to "do for themselves." In all of these areas, it has been tried in the past and frankly has been mostly abandoned to real and sustained human progress through coordinated action.

    We are no longer peasants armed with pitch forks hoping that various kings' private armies leave us alone, we train and equip a people's army that serves "we the people." Invasion effects all regardless of merit, all should contribute to defense regardless of where the invasion attacks. We should never privatize this. "Those bombers are headed to homes without Anti-Aircraft riders, let them pass." That is not acceptable.

    Crime effects all regardless of merit, and we contribute to basic protection, regardless of who is victimized. Those who desire are free to purchase more security above and beyond the basic protection. "Sir, we can not respond to your burglary because you have been previously burgled. It a pre-existing vulnerability." That is not acceptable.

    Fire and natural disaster effects many people, regardless of merit, and we commit to the common alleviation of these ills regardless who is effected. Those who want more protection are free to purchase more on the open market. "I am sorry folks we thought your house was within our network of protected homes. You are going to have to get a fire engine from your own network to put out your fire." That is unacceptable.

    Illness effects people regardless of individual merit, and I believe we should bind together on that issue as well. Those who want more than the basic level of community protection are still free to purchase more for themselves. No freedom is lost with universal healthcare, just like no freedom is lost with universal common defense, police, or fire protection.
    Until we learn the lessons that these other areas have taught us, we will suffer from all the inefficiency, inequality, insensitivity, poor outcomes, bloated costs and inhumanity that are beloved "private corporations" can force down our throats.

    Government initiative and coordination on matters of basic economic infrastructure such as research, education, transportation and energy development and distribution because it benefits all and is what makes private success possible.

    Government paid soldiers, policemen, firemen, and doctors because they protect us from what we should never be left to do for ourselves. We can do all of that ourselves- but progress dictates that we shouldn't.

    In our collective pasts, we have had private armies, police and fire, and we democratized that for the better of all. Its time we do the same with healthcare.

  2. #2

    Default Re: A Simple Defense of Universal Healthcare

    The American government in general is to provide protection and infrastructure. That includes military, police, fire and roads. That is what our tax dollars are for and I agree with it. But you kind of strayed from your opening paragraph because you originally asked about health care. So I will base my opinions on health care because we all agree about the other things. My ideas:

    Health care is a privilege not a right. If you choose to buy it, cool. If you choose not to, cool. Right now, health care is all tied up with someone's job. The services a particular person gets to receive are also tied to the insurance the job chooses to offer. Yes, there is something called COBRA insurance,but for some reason it is way more expensive and is usually just bought as a stop gap between jobs. The reason I believe that this problem is not being solved is the same reason I couldn't get old-timers in my previous work's union to change policy and why we as wrestling fans sit through the same boring HS and college tournaments without attracting new fans. The old answer of "That's how it's always been." That answer has become the default for everyone afraid of change.

    I suggest that people who are sick of the status quo get together and try to form their own type of group/union that will guarantee that they all buy insurance from a certain company. This company has to offer the same type of discounts it offers people who work at certain jobs so it's affordable. It should offer people the chance to opt in or out of certain coverages like pregnancy because some people won't need that coverage. They should demand that all hospitals accept this insurance, hospitals that don't would lose patients from other insurance companies who opted for this one.

    As a side note, hospitals and pharmacies are the real problem. Check out the profits from them compared to insurance companies. Insurance companies average a 4% profit while hospitals and pharmacies average between 19-26%. But the government told us insurance is the problem, so people just accept it. Just like condoms are supposedly a problem now.

    Back to insurance. I think companies like AAA could probably start something like this pretty easily. They have already done it with car insurance and since there are so many people who are members, other companies already offer them discounts because of it. You can save all over the nation at hotels, restaurants, department stores....just for being a member. If enough free willing Americans join together to buy insurance (which is how jobs get an insurance discount) then that group of people would get the discount, too.

    Government does not need to be involved in making this happen. Government screws things up. In fact, government is probably why people don't think it's possible to change things right now. All it takes is initiative and perseverance and it can be done. Anyone who defaults to the government to do it for them is just plain lazy. Unfortunately that describes about half of America right now.

  3. #3

    Default Re: A Simple Defense of Universal Healthcare

    Quote Originally Posted by quinn14 View Post
    The American government in general is to provide protection and infrastructure. That includes military, police, fire and roads. That is what our tax dollars are for and I agree with it. But you kind of strayed from your opening paragraph because you originally asked about health care. So I will base my opinions on health care because we all agree about the other things. My ideas:

    Health care is a privilege not a right. If you choose to buy it, cool. If you choose not to, cool. Right now, health care is all tied up with someone's job. The services a particular person gets to receive are also tied to the insurance the job chooses to offer. Yes, there is something called COBRA insurance,but for some reason it is way more expensive and is usually just bought as a stop gap between jobs. The reason I believe that this problem is not being solved is the same reason I couldn't get old-timers in my previous work's union to change policy and why we as wrestling fans sit through the same boring HS and college tournaments without attracting new fans. The old answer of "That's how it's always been." That answer has become the default for everyone afraid of change.

    I suggest that people who are sick of the status quo get together and try to form their own type of group/union that will guarantee that they all buy insurance from a certain company. This company has to offer the same type of discounts it offers people who work at certain jobs so it's affordable. It should offer people the chance to opt in or out of certain coverages like pregnancy because some people won't need that coverage. They should demand that all hospitals accept this insurance, hospitals that don't would lose patients from other insurance companies who opted for this one.

    As a side note, hospitals and pharmacies are the real problem. Check out the profits from them compared to insurance companies. Insurance companies average a 4% profit while hospitals and pharmacies average between 19-26%. But the government told us insurance is the problem, so people just accept it. Just like condoms are supposedly a problem now.

    Back to insurance. I think companies like AAA could probably start something like this pretty easily. They have already done it with car insurance and since there are so many people who are members, other companies already offer them discounts because of it. You can save all over the nation at hotels, restaurants, department stores....just for being a member. If enough free willing Americans join together to buy insurance (which is how jobs get an insurance discount) then that group of people would get the discount, too.

    Government does not need to be involved in making this happen. Government screws things up. In fact, government is probably why people don't think it's possible to change things right now. All it takes is initiative and perseverance and it can be done. Anyone who defaults to the government to do it for them is just plain lazy. Unfortunately that describes about half of America right now.
    Maybe you did not manage to finish the post, but I compare health to military, fire and police. I would be interested in how you react to the logic of it.

    I with hold comment on your distinction between rights and priviliges until you get a chance to look at it again.

    However I could not agree with you more that Insurance is the scape goat right now.

    Where I disagree is that Hospitals are the ones making the money- stats I have seen place them in the 3-7% profit margin range, similar to insurance, but I am sure it depends on how you define and measure it.

    Insurance can not be profitable unless the stock market is profitable---until then they will scramble to make 3%.

    Pharm companies do well, but not as much as people think.

    Hospital suppliers and medical equipment are doing better 15-22% range as of about 2 years ago.

    The real issue I see is Doctor's compensation (and to a lesser degree nurses.) Compared to others around the world, our Doc's are making in some cases 5-7xs what they make industrialized countries with better health outcomes. Again, 2 year old stats when I looked at them.

    To me, the fact that Doctoring is ran as a for profit enterprise, instead of public service like military, police and fire is a big problem. There is no check on them, patients are too scared to question them, and the docs blame insurance and their patients believe them. There needs to be a standard fee schedule like Japan or something soon to balance them.

    Of course, the medicaid schedules are becoming the defacto fee schedules whether anyone wants to admit it or not. So many private insurance companies are dropping their benefits to match medicaid reimbursement- again whether anyone wants to notice it or not.

  4. #4

    Default Re: A Simple Defense of Universal Healthcare

    Government involvement in health care is what has caused the sky rocketing costs, fraud, abuse, etc. Look at all the new health care buildings springing up everywhere. For you old enough to remember the 70's and 80's, none of this existed, and people still were being taken care of. Why do you think doctors and hospitals can now afford to build such fabulous complex's? The answer is because someone else is paying for it, namely US taxpayers because of government involvement in health care insurance. If individuals were responsible for paying for their own bills, #1 the costs would not be nearly as high and #2 many unnecessary procedures would not be occurring.

    Here's 1 example of health insurance stupidity, waste, fraud, and abuse. I needed an MRI on my neck but the insurance company won't let me get an MRI unless I have a regular x ray first even though every doctor knows the regular x ray is a total waste of time. If I'm paying the bill I'm probably not having any x rays at all, but I'm definitely not paying $300 for an x ray I definitly don't need. Also, if I'm paying out of my pocket an MRI probably doesn't cost $1,300 because no one would get one and the MRI company would go out of business. DC

  5. #5

    Default Re: A Simple Defense of Universal Healthcare

    Quote Originally Posted by Daisy Cutter View Post
    For you old enough to remember the 70's and 80's, none of this existed, and people still were being taken care of.
    In the 70's and 80's the population was younger and less fat. Is it the government's fault that people got older and fatter (and therefor consume more healthcare)?


    Quote Originally Posted by Daisy Cutter View Post
    Here's 1 example of health insurance stupidity, waste, fraud, and abuse. I needed an MRI on my neck but the insurance company won't let me get an MRI unless I have a regular x ray first even though every doctor knows the regular x ray is a total waste of time. If I'm paying the bill I'm probably not having any x rays at all, but I'm definitely not paying $300 for an x ray I definitly don't need. Also, if I'm paying out of my pocket an MRI probably doesn't cost $1,300 because no one would get one and the MRI company would go out of business.
    Does the government require that your insurance company require you to get an x-ray first? Seems to me that this is a problem with the private insurance company.
    There's no such thing as a pretty good aligator wrestler.

  6. #6
    World Champ ODH's Avatar
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    Default Re: A Simple Defense of Universal Healthcare

    Quote Originally Posted by Daisy Cutter View Post
    Government involvement in health care is what has caused the sky rocketing costs, fraud, abuse, etc. Look at all the new health care buildings springing up everywhere. For you old enough to remember the 70's and 80's, none of this existed, and people still were being taken care of. Why do you think doctors and hospitals can now afford to build such fabulous complex's? The answer is because someone else is paying for it, namely US taxpayers because of government involvement in health care insurance. If individuals were responsible for paying for their own bills, #1 the costs would not be nearly as high and #2 many unnecessary procedures would not be occurring.

    Here's 1 example of health insurance stupidity, waste, fraud, and abuse. I needed an MRI on my neck but the insurance company won't let me get an MRI unless I have a regular x ray first even though every doctor knows the regular x ray is a total waste of time. If I'm paying the bill I'm probably not having any x rays at all, but I'm definitely not paying $300 for an x ray I definitly don't need. Also, if I'm paying out of my pocket an MRI probably doesn't cost $1,300 because no one would get one and the MRI company would go out of business. DC
    Healthcare was cheaper in the 70's and 80's because there was not as much technology. No one got MRI's is the 70s and 80s because they did not exist. Technology has made healthcare better but it a reasonable question whether it is always worth the money.

    As far as getting an X-ray before an MRI, I think your numbers are a bit off on the X-ray. I think I paid $150 for my last X-Ray. Either way, some actuary at an insurance company has calculated that it is cheaper to make people get an X-ray before an MRI because enough people won't get the expensive MRI because of the extra hassle or the X-Ray will be effective enough that the MRI is not needed.

  7. #7

    Default Re: A Simple Defense of Universal Healthcare

    Quote Originally Posted by Daisy Cutter View Post
    Government involvement in health care is what has caused the sky rocketing costs, fraud, abuse, etc. Look at all the new health care buildings springing up everywhere. For you old enough to remember the 70's and 80's, none of this existed, and people still were being taken care of. Why do you think doctors and hospitals can now afford to build such fabulous complex's? The answer is because someone else is paying for it, namely US taxpayers because of government involvement in health care insurance. If individuals were responsible for paying for their own bills, #1 the costs would not be nearly as high and #2 many unnecessary procedures would not be occurring.

    Here's 1 example of health insurance stupidity, waste, fraud, and abuse. I needed an MRI on my neck but the insurance company won't let me get an MRI unless I have a regular x ray first even though every doctor knows the regular x ray is a total waste of time. If I'm paying the bill I'm probably not having any x rays at all, but I'm definitely not paying $300 for an x ray I definitly don't need. Also, if I'm paying out of my pocket an MRI probably doesn't cost $1,300 because no one would get one and the MRI company would go out of business. DC
    Government started getting involved in the 70s to control costs. That is when a Republican/Conservative Richard Nixon attempted to push federal universal healthcare to cut costs- so much for his "New American Revolution" social program. I miss Nixon.

    If anything, it was abundance of private insurance from union contracts in the 50s and 60s that caused skyrocketing costs. Private for profit doctors and organizations took massive advantage of the system and drove the costs up- combined with dwindling regulation and ambulance chasing lawyers, as well as new technology and pharmaceuticals. Government involvement is an effect of price inflation, not a cause.
    Last edited by NYGriffin; 02-21-2012 at 12:48 PM.

  8. #8

    Default Re: A Simple Defense of Universal Healthcare

    I will say this... Ugly was willing take up the point of my original post. Does healthcare fall into a similar category as defense, police and fire?
    She had Constitutional qualms about it, but admitted it could be done on the state level, (which is what I would like to see.)
    So for giggles, maybe we could argue the opposite- who is in favor of privatizing fire, police and defense coverage?

  9. #9
    Super Moderator UGLY's Avatar
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    Default Re: A Simple Defense of Universal Healthcare

    One issue with comparing police and fire to universal health care is that there is no universal police or fire, all of the fire depts and police depts are run by local government and I dont believe that there is a requirement in constitution that they do so. There is however in the constitution the right for the federal government to have a military and it is their job to do so, if you read the federalist papers it was always the intent of the federal government to have a standing army.

    Secondly I dont think that the government can adequately run health care, nothing the government runs, runs well and it always costs 10x more than it would if the private sector ran it. We know that the costs are high and we can look to other nations with universal health care and see that it is a large factor in causing nations to go bankrupt. Along with all of the other socialist tendencies.

    Now if a state wanted to have some type of universal state health care system that's fine because it would go to a vote of the people of that state to decide.

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