Wednesday, June 17, 2009

New World Health Care

According to our president, our country is now faced with another crisis. This time it is the crisis in health care. I won't go into the details as why the president considers this an important issue, but suffice it to say that the only reason he considers it a crisis is for the purpose of creating a faux panic amongst Americans and thus to Congress, so that he can get this legislation through quickly.

Quickly? Hmmm...a recurring theme with this president.

It would seem our president is very sly. He understands a certain fact that many Americans are just now waking up to, namely that he will not have four years to get all the things done that he wants to get done. He'll be lucky to have a year. Because, by this time next year (actually much early than now...perhaps as early as this October), the entire House and a third of the Senate will be scrambling to figure out how they can possibly keep from being lynched, let alone keep their jobs. By January of next year the president won't be able to get a dog leash law passed.

He knows full well that if he does not get this health care bill passed and passed by September of this year, it will never pass.

So, he is putting on the full court press. He's got one of the government's news agencies (ABC) all ready to air the Obama Info-Mercial on why we MUST have his health care plan. He actually thinks he can pull another fast one over on the American public. Frankly, with the help of the various government news agencies (NBC, MSNBC, ABC, CNN, NYT, Washington Post and so on), they could very well make Congress BELIEVE that the American people are behind Obama on this one.

Let me make one thing clear, I am not stepping over the line in saying THE AMERICAN PEOPLE DO NOT WANT THIS. Pass this bill and everyone of you are gone..sooner than later..gone.

So, let's ignore all the rhetoric and look a couple of simple issues here:

Simple Cost Analysis

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that, without taking into account many of the provisions of the president's proposal, this bill cost taxpayers $1.6 TRILLION. The caveat of that previous sentence means that it will, when they finally figure out the costs of ALL the provisions of his proposal, cost FAR more than that.

In addition, the estimates show that of the supposed 50 million people currently not insured, the president's proposal will leave about 35 million of them still uninsured. It will also remove about 23 million from current employer-paid plans and put them on this plan. BUT, it will only insure about 15 million people who aren't currently insured (for argument's sake and to make numbers easier to crunch, I'm going to round to 16 million newly insured).

Now, don't get me wrong, being able to insure 15 million new people is nice. But what's the cost? I don't wanna get crazy here with too much, so let's just keep it simple. What's $1.6 TRILLION divided by 16 million people (remember I rounded up to make this easy)?

$100,000 per newly insured person...MINIMUM.

Do I need to say more about this? Okay, I will. Obama wants us to believe, based upon his talk to the AMA and other speeches, that this will be paid for by the immense savings this country will experience from having everyone insured. But remember, there are still another 35 million people uninsured. Not to mention that the CBO estimates show little or no savings from this perspective.

Well, there is ONE way the government run health care system would save money. You see, statistics show that 80% of all health care costs are from a mere 20% of the population. Anyone wanna guess what that 20% is? Mostly the elderly.

Do you remember Tom Daschle? He's the guy Obama originally wanted to run Health and Human Services (HSS). Fortunely for us, Daschle ran into some ethics issues and had to withdraw his name from consideration. However, his theories on the health care "crisis" still live on. Daschle wrote a book called Critical: What Can We Do About The Health Care Crisis. In the book, one of his views on how to deal with the extreme costs of health care is for all citizens to accept the inevitable...death. He suggests that Americans are too caught up on extending life year after year after year, no matter the costs. That if Americans would just realize that we are only making it more painful for those that survive us....FINANCIALLY, we would be willing to withdraw from many of the life-extending treatments we endure.

This, my friends, is why England's health care board (a system Obama has openly stated is the model for what he wants) stopped all medications for breast cancer SAVE MONEY.

THIS is how Obama intends on saving money and paying for his plan. GET IT?


Let's move on. Obama says he does not want to eliminate private health insurance carriers. He just wants to add a "public option" as a competition to private insurers. He wants the government, in other words, to open up an insurance company to compete with private companies. Do you understand what this is?

What would it mean to you, if you run or ran a business, if your chief competitor had unlimited access to money, set all the rules for all the companies doing business in that industry, and could, essentially dictate how much of YOUR profits they could take from you legally?

Let answer that simply....they would either have you agreeing to do things their way on everything or they would run you out of business.

Have you ever seen one of those westerns where the big cattle baron puts a dam on the river upstream from all the small cattle ranchers? The big bad cattle baron controlled the water. The other ranchers either did things his way or they were forced to sell their land and their cattle to those big bad cattle barons. That's what's happening here.

Do They Really Know How to Run a Business?

Stop laughing...really. Honestly, the government has done some things our military (though, I must admit that most of the mistakes made militarily usually occurred when politicians interfere...i.e. - Vietnam and Iraq). Oh they don't typically do things right from a business perspective. At least they try.

But let's just look at this health care issue from a business perspective. First, when a company is seeking to make significant changes to their business structure they usually will scale things into place in order to work out the kinks in the changes they're putting into place.

Let me explain. I work for a national photography company. When they made the transition, several years ago, to digital cameras from film cameras, they did not make these changes immediately and across the board. After, of course, coming up with a plan for the implementation and a cost analysis, they initiated the transition in one of 16 districts around the country. Once the testing period was complete they had a good idea of what kinks needed to be worked out. They proceeded to fix those kinks and transitioned a second district. That transition exposed additional kinks. When they had done this enough times to felt that they had worked out enough of the kinks to make it work efficiently, they transitioned the rest of the districts.

Has the federal government done this with regards to health care? Well, actually, yes, they have. Its called Medicare. Have there been kinks in the Medicare system? Duh. Of course there have. Have there been efforts by Congress to fix those kinks? Duh. Of course there have. Have they worked out enough of those kinks to justify transitioning the rest of the country? Well, you make the call...but to me the answer that question is also...DUH..NO WAY.

Do you want to know what happens when a company makes a broad, across the board business transition? They usually end up spending a whole lot of money fixing the mess and often times go out of business...especially if they are not a properly capitalized company. Has anyone done a quick analysis on the financial stability of the federal government to see if it might screw us all if they try this and fail? Do we really want people who didn't properly GUESS what the unemployment figures would be when calculating the consequences of passing the stimulus bill spending another $1.6 trillion and then some screwing with the health care system?

Can It Be Done?

I have NO idea. It don't look good. No has ever succeeded at it. I'm really not sure why these guys think they can. But here's a simple alternative.

1. Instead of spending $100K per PERSON on this idea, let every American have a Health Savings Plan. My company and my wife's school do and WE LOVE IT. They provide a major medical plan that takes care of most everything we need after a $5000 maximum out of pocket cost per year. Then we get to save up to $5000 per year (each of us) into a pre-tax account. We then get these VISA cards that give us access to those accounts for medical purposes. We get to go, pretty much, wherever we want. It covers health, dental, vision, chiropractic, weight loss (when prescribed by a doctor) and more. If we don't use up all the money, it carries over. So we get to build up the account for later years when the needs are greater.

2. For the seniors in this country who are already on Medicare, fulfill the obligation to them until they die. The costs will diminish as the years go on.

3. Provide incentives for ALL employers to provide these plans in the form of tax credits and/or additional tax savings. That savings will only go back into the economy in the form of higher personal income taxes to the owners, hiring more employees or increasing return on investments.

4. Fund each family's account, who is not already under a corporate plan, with $5000. That's a heckuva lot less than the $100K PER PERSON that the president's plan would cost. This cost should be the ONLY out of pocket cost to the government since the tax incentives would provide enough economic activity to provide tax revenue to the government to pay for its costs. That would cost about $600Billion one time.

5. As a last resort, for those slipping through the cracks, do the following: a) set up health savings account for them (as stated earlier), b) make arrangements with every health insurer for them to put money from their profits into a pool for use by unemployed, under-employed and uninsured for a major medical plan. The unemployed would received free benefits; the under-employed would get a discount based upon need; and the uninsured (but fully employed) could buy into the major medical plan at the best rates possible by actuarials. Small businesses, who can't afford to do their own plans, could buy into as well, based upon certain income levels and such. It would be run by a consortium of people from the various insurers, plus government representatives. The rules for participation would be legislated. Each insurance company's involvement would be based upon what percentage of the health insurance pie they have; c) provide only emergency health care for illegal immigrants only. All hospitals must participate by either helping to finance (those hospitals not in the hot zone where illegals usually live and need care) or by accepting the illegals.

Okay...there's the foundation for what I think we should do. Can you do better? I definitely don't think the Obama plan is better.

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