Healthcare, part 1

What to look for in the Obamacare informercial on ABC this week

1. Why do we need healthcare reform? Why is it absolutely necessary to offer a public healthcare option? And why should the government be responsible (using taxpayer money) for organizing it?

Proponents of the democrats’ quest to provide a government-run healthcare insurance plan will tell you that 46 million people living in America are without health insurance and that the costs are too expensive. President Obama has even said that to fail to “fix” the current insurance situation will only drain the US economy and bankrupt the nation, comparing the lack of healthcare insurance in the US to a “ticking time bomb.”

It costs too much for whom? Monthly insurance premiums are a mere fraction of the medical treatment costs, yet they threaten the profits of businesses across the nation. Have you asked your doctor lately how much it costs them to perform a procedure? How much profit does the doctor get? And what is the mortgage on the building? How much profit does the pharmaceutical company get? the medical equipment company? the hospital? hospital staff? the food service? the cleaning crew? the laundry? or the biggie, medical malpractice insurance?

The truth is, many doctors don’t even make enough to pay back the hundreds of thousands of dollars they owe in student loans until they have had a job in the field for many years. Healthcare is expensive, and that isn’t likely to change simply because the government will be paying for it.

Small businesses have reported that they welcome the opportunity to save money by not being forced to offer expensive healthcare insurance to their employees, but have reservations about the reform bills currently moving swiftly through the Senate and Congress.

From The Business Review:

They’re afraid the bill being marked up this month by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee won’t do enough to control health care costs, but will go too far in imposing stiff new insurance requirements—including minimum coverage levels—on employers.

They also worry that including a government-run plan as an option in new insurance exchanges would lead hospitals and doctors to charge private insurers more for their services in order to compensate for underpayments they would receive from the public plan.

Currently, there are more than 1,300 private insurance companies that compete for the 46 million uninsured’s business, some with rates as low as $40 per month. That’s less than the cost of a cell phone bill.

So why can’t those companies gain new customers from the pool of uninsured? One obvious reason is that more than 10 million are illegal immigrants. Other reasons aren’t as simple.

From Fox News:

Millions can apparently afford health insurance but for whatever reason choose to not buy it. In 2007, an estimated 17.6 million of the uninsured made more than $50,000 per year, and more than 9 million of those made more than $75,000. According to researcher and author Sally Pipes, 38 percent of the U.S. uninsured population earn more than $50,000 per year.

While watching Wednesday night’s infomercial, be sure to look for these statistics and the White House’s argument to support forcing capable, legal Americans into healthcare insurance that they don’t want.

2. How much will it cost?

The Congressional Budget Office, the non-partisan fiscal watch-dog group, estimated that the cost of healthcare reform as it is being written in Washington right now will exceed $1.6 Trillion over the next 10 years. CNN reports:

The cost of health care reform has caused “sticker shock,” a leading Democratic senator conceded Sunday.

Appearing on ABC’s “This Week” program, Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut said a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis of health care bills proposed so far showed they were more expensive than originally believed.

Asked about sticker shock from the $1.6 trillion price tag, Dodd said “we all” have it.

“We’ve got to obviously have better numbers than the ones we’ve seen,” Dodd said.

Estimates haven’t surfaced yet stating how much the program will cost each individual because how the tax increases will take place isn’t yet clear. The 852-page bill was just released and senators, congressmen/women and their aids are being rushed to read through it to meet the president’s demands. President Obama has said repeatedly that he would like approved legislation on his desk for signature this summer, or by year’s end.

Several news outlets have reported that even democrats are not comfortable with the current bill’s tax implications and cost. Read here and here.

3. The most compelling arguments in any debate about reform cite proof of similar programs that have been successful. Many critics of Obama’s plan will tell you to look to Europe for horror stories about long waits for surgery and lack of doctors, facilities and quality care. They will tell you how Canadians travel across the border to pay out of pocket for necessary treatments to save their lives because their government is rationing care and conducting “survivability studies” to determine who gets which medical services.

Though those critics may be telling the truth, the measure by which the US government should hold itself accountable is to point to any other government-run program that has been successful.

Some examples of programs that were created or overhauled in the past with the intent of helping Americans:

  • Public Education ($972 billion budget, ranked about middle among other nations, USA Today)
  • Medicaid (will be bankrupt soon)
  • Medicare (will be bankrupt soon)
  • Social Security (nearly bankrupt)
  • War on Poverty (failed, we still have poor people in the US)
  • Department of Energy (failed, designed to eliminated dependence on foreign oil more than 30 yrs ago)

Have any of them worked according to plan? The fact is, the government can’t even collect taxes from the White House cabinet, let alone mandate healthcare insurance for every American.

These are the 3 most obvious and common arguments against any government-run healthcare program. There will be more to come in parts 2 and 3, but hopefully this gets you thinking.

Erin Haust is an Examiner from Minneapolis.

Nothing contained in this blog is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Pacific Research Institute or as an attempt to thwart or aid the passage of any legislation.

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