Mandatory health insurance

In the health care debate, lawmakers from every party have apparently reached consensus on at least one approach: require all Americans to have health insurance. Many of the uninsured are young and healthy adults who opt out of employer coverage and otherwise do without. If they have to get insurance, so the reasoning goes, that would add a population to the pool that doesn’t go to the doctor much, thus bringing down insurance costs for everyone. People who couldn’t afford insurance on their own would get government subsidies for the purpose.

The debates now are mainly about funding problems and about whether the government should offer a public insurance plan that would compete with the private companies. Naturally, the insurance companies love the idea, as do drug companies, hospitals, and other medical providers, salivating at all of these additional customers. There are many other pieces to the puzzle, but let’s focus on this one aspect of the proposed health care reforms.

Using private companies to ensure health care for all–rather than a Canada-style government-run system–would seem to avoid socialism. States already mandate auto insurance. Why not health insurance also?

Do you see problems with this approach? Are any of you young, healthy, and uninsured folks going to resent this? Is this going to cut medical costs or allow them to skyrocket unhindered?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Crypto-Lutheran

    This highlights another problem: auto insurance companies punish bad behaviour (reckless driving, claims, etc…) by upping premiums. Can you imagine health insurance companies taking the same tack? Are you old? Are you a skydiver? Are you gay? (all medically high risk). Hm. You’re in the high risk category.
    On another note, I (thanks be to God) have never been in a car accident or made a claim on my auto insurance. It would be insane for me, as a result of my habitual good driving, to cancel my auto insurance and take my chances. The same goes for health ins.; it would be foolish to take my chances as a young, healthy, heterosexual, monogomous male because the odds say I won’t get sick. I actually think forced participation in insurance is not a bad idea….

  • Crypto-Lutheran

    This highlights another problem: auto insurance companies punish bad behaviour (reckless driving, claims, etc…) by upping premiums. Can you imagine health insurance companies taking the same tack? Are you old? Are you a skydiver? Are you gay? (all medically high risk). Hm. You’re in the high risk category.
    On another note, I (thanks be to God) have never been in a car accident or made a claim on my auto insurance. It would be insane for me, as a result of my habitual good driving, to cancel my auto insurance and take my chances. The same goes for health ins.; it would be foolish to take my chances as a young, healthy, heterosexual, monogomous male because the odds say I won’t get sick. I actually think forced participation in insurance is not a bad idea….

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    That’s right, Crypto. The tradeoff with the insurance companies is that they would not be able to turn anyone down who wanted to buy insurance, despite previous medical conditions, etc. This will push prices for everyone up.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    That’s right, Crypto. The tradeoff with the insurance companies is that they would not be able to turn anyone down who wanted to buy insurance, despite previous medical conditions, etc. This will push prices for everyone up.

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  • Debb chandler

    Continuing the car insurance comparison when making insurance mandatory was first discussed I remember the law makers in my state saying it would bring the cost of insurance down. which it most defiantly has not. I wonder how will health care be different. also in my state the it is often said at one in seven drivers is not insured although to register your car you must provide proof of insurance. How will they insure at all have health insurance.
    Doesn’t the government mandating that you have to pay simply make it a type of tax.
    Will we need a new bureaucracy to make sure things are handled fairly.
    And what penalties will be imposed on those who do not choose to have coverage and if one doesn’t will they be denied emergency care.
    these are some of my concerns about universal health care

  • Debb chandler

    Continuing the car insurance comparison when making insurance mandatory was first discussed I remember the law makers in my state saying it would bring the cost of insurance down. which it most defiantly has not. I wonder how will health care be different. also in my state the it is often said at one in seven drivers is not insured although to register your car you must provide proof of insurance. How will they insure at all have health insurance.
    Doesn’t the government mandating that you have to pay simply make it a type of tax.
    Will we need a new bureaucracy to make sure things are handled fairly.
    And what penalties will be imposed on those who do not choose to have coverage and if one doesn’t will they be denied emergency care.
    these are some of my concerns about universal health care

  • Crypto-Lutheran

    I’m not defending the Canadian system. But you cannot deny the empirical facts: Canadians spend LESS per capita on healthcare than Americans, AND we live (ever-so-slightly) longer. Now, I understand the old mantra that stats never lie, only the people using them. But if everyone had insurance, it shouldn’t technically raise the costs but lower the costs for everyone. Analogously, when everyone (not just parents) in a church community supports Christian education, the price invariably drops per supporting member as quality improves. You’re arguing that broader support will raise costs per individual. That sounds like nonsense to me. The difference of course is that membership in a private school society is voluntary……
    Still a Libertarian,
    CL

  • Crypto-Lutheran

    I’m not defending the Canadian system. But you cannot deny the empirical facts: Canadians spend LESS per capita on healthcare than Americans, AND we live (ever-so-slightly) longer. Now, I understand the old mantra that stats never lie, only the people using them. But if everyone had insurance, it shouldn’t technically raise the costs but lower the costs for everyone. Analogously, when everyone (not just parents) in a church community supports Christian education, the price invariably drops per supporting member as quality improves. You’re arguing that broader support will raise costs per individual. That sounds like nonsense to me. The difference of course is that membership in a private school society is voluntary……
    Still a Libertarian,
    CL

  • Crypto-Lutheran

    Deb @ 4,
    The rise in auto insurance costs can be the result of many factors, not least of which is the ever-increasing litigiousness of NA society and the growing trend of insurance fraud. Ironically, the escalating costs of auto insurance are at least indirectly related to the sky-rocketing cost of medical expenses incurred in treating the victims of car accidents!
    CL

  • Crypto-Lutheran

    Deb @ 4,
    The rise in auto insurance costs can be the result of many factors, not least of which is the ever-increasing litigiousness of NA society and the growing trend of insurance fraud. Ironically, the escalating costs of auto insurance are at least indirectly related to the sky-rocketing cost of medical expenses incurred in treating the victims of car accidents!
    CL

  • Debb chandler

    I think you missed my point I rarely comment because my actual thoughts on most issues take to long to type and no one would want to read three or four pages of my ramblings. Anyway my point was that the only other time that I have experience with that any government required insurance it it did not have the desired effect on consumers.

  • Debb chandler

    I think you missed my point I rarely comment because my actual thoughts on most issues take to long to type and no one would want to read three or four pages of my ramblings. Anyway my point was that the only other time that I have experience with that any government required insurance it it did not have the desired effect on consumers.

  • CRB
  • CRB
  • Petermkl

    Gene:

    You ask: “States already mandate auto insurance. Why not health insurance also?”

    The answer to your question is, of course, that states do not mandate auto insurance universally, as the proposed health insurance mandate is to be applied.

    Auto insurance is a conditional requirement for use of the roads, and since we have no fundamental right to use roads, the government is justified in putting whatever conditions they want on their use.

    Right now, if I determine that it is not in my best interest to purchase the whole “car insurance + use of the roads” package, I’m free to decline it. Many older or richer or poorer Americans who don’t drive do just that.

    The proposed health insurance mandate, on the other hand, leaves no such choice. Everyone will have to purchase health insurance, wether they determine that it is in their best interests or not. Actually, one of the selling points of the plan is to force people who probably don’t need insurance to purchase it, therefore driving down costs for everyone; this would be the equivalent of actually forcing everyone to purchase car insurace, even people who were certain to never drive a car again.

  • Petermkl

    Gene:

    You ask: “States already mandate auto insurance. Why not health insurance also?”

    The answer to your question is, of course, that states do not mandate auto insurance universally, as the proposed health insurance mandate is to be applied.

    Auto insurance is a conditional requirement for use of the roads, and since we have no fundamental right to use roads, the government is justified in putting whatever conditions they want on their use.

    Right now, if I determine that it is not in my best interest to purchase the whole “car insurance + use of the roads” package, I’m free to decline it. Many older or richer or poorer Americans who don’t drive do just that.

    The proposed health insurance mandate, on the other hand, leaves no such choice. Everyone will have to purchase health insurance, wether they determine that it is in their best interests or not. Actually, one of the selling points of the plan is to force people who probably don’t need insurance to purchase it, therefore driving down costs for everyone; this would be the equivalent of actually forcing everyone to purchase car insurace, even people who were certain to never drive a car again.

  • Rose

    Mandatory insurance is a good idea. Currently we promote theft. The federal government requires hospitals to care for everyone and young people know it. So they dodge carrying insurance, even catastrophic care. It’s similar to current ads offering to settle your credit card debt for much less than what you owe. I’m surprised they air these ads normalizing theft. Mandatory health insurance really could raise funds, in contrast to Obama’s “red pill, blue pill”. That cost-saving idea showed how out of touch he is with insurance practices that already charge the consumer less for generics. He is becoming so deceitful.

  • Rose

    Mandatory insurance is a good idea. Currently we promote theft. The federal government requires hospitals to care for everyone and young people know it. So they dodge carrying insurance, even catastrophic care. It’s similar to current ads offering to settle your credit card debt for much less than what you owe. I’m surprised they air these ads normalizing theft. Mandatory health insurance really could raise funds, in contrast to Obama’s “red pill, blue pill”. That cost-saving idea showed how out of touch he is with insurance practices that already charge the consumer less for generics. He is becoming so deceitful.

  • CRB

    RE: #8

    Forgot to mention to scroll down to Betsy McCaughey, who is a physician.

  • CRB

    RE: #8

    Forgot to mention to scroll down to Betsy McCaughey, who is a physician.

  • petermkl

    @ Rose:

    You’re right in identifying a problem. We currently require hospitals to care for people who cannot or will not pay the hospitals back. This encourages some to not purchase insurance, as they know they will get services anyway.

    However, there are ways of solving this problem other than forcing everyone to purchase insurance.

    One would be to simply stop requiring hospitals to care for anyone and everyone, allowing them to function of their own volition like any other business or charity.

    Another option would be to compel people to either a) purchase health insurance, or b) waive the right to free, immediate services at a hospital.

  • petermkl

    @ Rose:

    You’re right in identifying a problem. We currently require hospitals to care for people who cannot or will not pay the hospitals back. This encourages some to not purchase insurance, as they know they will get services anyway.

    However, there are ways of solving this problem other than forcing everyone to purchase insurance.

    One would be to simply stop requiring hospitals to care for anyone and everyone, allowing them to function of their own volition like any other business or charity.

    Another option would be to compel people to either a) purchase health insurance, or b) waive the right to free, immediate services at a hospital.

  • Weslie Odom

    One analogy I’ve heard time and again from those pushing mandatory health care is that it’s like car insurance, i.e., if you own a car, you have to have insurance.

    Has anyone, in an interview, pointed out the poor logic in this? I am not required to own a car; that is a choice I make, and I realize that insurance is part of that choice. On the other hand, I’m unable to not own my body.

    Well, after years of mandatory seat-belt laws (while still allowing motorcyclists to NOT wear helmets), this is no real surprise. Uncle Sam knows what’s best for me…

  • Weslie Odom

    One analogy I’ve heard time and again from those pushing mandatory health care is that it’s like car insurance, i.e., if you own a car, you have to have insurance.

    Has anyone, in an interview, pointed out the poor logic in this? I am not required to own a car; that is a choice I make, and I realize that insurance is part of that choice. On the other hand, I’m unable to not own my body.

    Well, after years of mandatory seat-belt laws (while still allowing motorcyclists to NOT wear helmets), this is no real surprise. Uncle Sam knows what’s best for me…

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    The first Amendment implications of mandatory health insurance (think about Christian Scientists, maybe the Amish) will be fascinating.

    And my other take; it’ll kill off small business by forcing 20-something entrepreneurs to subsidize insurance for 50-something people with 50 extra pounds and a two pack a day cancer stick habit. Nasty thought.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    The first Amendment implications of mandatory health insurance (think about Christian Scientists, maybe the Amish) will be fascinating.

    And my other take; it’ll kill off small business by forcing 20-something entrepreneurs to subsidize insurance for 50-something people with 50 extra pounds and a two pack a day cancer stick habit. Nasty thought.

  • Geremy

    The other big problem with Congress is that they now assume, and quite wrongly, may I add, that healthcare in this country is a right protected by some sort of amendment to the Constitution. This is wrong. There are things more important to most people than their healthcare insurance plan–I’m thinking food and water. These are things for which we pay as we consume. We can go for years (typically) without seeing a doctor, yet we cannot go for days without food. Yet, we all pay for our food (with the exception of people on food stamps on WIC)? Why shouldn’t we all pay for our own health care, insurance or not? The medical community knows how to care for us, and we really need to let them take care of their own money collections. If they want to make the most money, they’ll price their services competitively to other institutions in the area. Getting the government involved is always a bad idea, and I wish the people in Washington would understand this.

  • Geremy

    The other big problem with Congress is that they now assume, and quite wrongly, may I add, that healthcare in this country is a right protected by some sort of amendment to the Constitution. This is wrong. There are things more important to most people than their healthcare insurance plan–I’m thinking food and water. These are things for which we pay as we consume. We can go for years (typically) without seeing a doctor, yet we cannot go for days without food. Yet, we all pay for our food (with the exception of people on food stamps on WIC)? Why shouldn’t we all pay for our own health care, insurance or not? The medical community knows how to care for us, and we really need to let them take care of their own money collections. If they want to make the most money, they’ll price their services competitively to other institutions in the area. Getting the government involved is always a bad idea, and I wish the people in Washington would understand this.

  • J

    I wish someone would comment here who can’t afford health insurance or who was driven to bankruptcy by an illness that their insurance refused to cover. But such folks, I imagine, gave up their internet account long ago.

  • J

    I wish someone would comment here who can’t afford health insurance or who was driven to bankruptcy by an illness that their insurance refused to cover. But such folks, I imagine, gave up their internet account long ago.

  • DonS

    It is a fairly straightforward thing to enforce a law mandating auto insurance. You have to register your car annually, and the state can simply require proof of insurance as a condition of registration. Of course, even so, what tends to happen is that folks pick up auto insurance just before registration renewal, pay their registration, then drop the insurance again. Some states have responded to that problem by requiring insurance companies to report every time someone drops their insurance. But, what if they are just switching policies? You see the problem.

    This problem is magnified with health insurance, because there is no convenient lever for enforcing the mandate. How do you make people pay their monthly premium? How do you know whether they did or not? There has been talk of enforcing such a mandate through the income tax return process, but a lot of people are not required to file returns, and even if they are, what’s to stop them from taking up a policy in March, filing their return, and dropping it in May?

    The only way to enforce the mandate is to require proof of insurance to obtain medical treatment, or to force the patient to otherwise pay cash. But this flies in the face of the Camelot notion that health care is a “right”. Of course, it is not, but that’s beside the point. By the way, the next time someone insists to you that health care is a right, explain to them how the Bill of Rights is actually a guarantee by the government that THEY will leave YOU alone with respect to certain activities you engage in. In no way does the Constitution grant or imply rights to you that the government guarantees by mandating other private citizens to perform. But that’s the twisted world we live in.

    Now, under statute (not the Constitution), the government does force emergency rooms to treat patients presenting themselves for treatment, no matter whether their malady is truly an emergency, without first demanding payment. So, I guess, to this extent, “emergency” health care is a right. But we see how that has worked out. Try to find a functioning emergency room in the inner city these days.

  • DonS

    It is a fairly straightforward thing to enforce a law mandating auto insurance. You have to register your car annually, and the state can simply require proof of insurance as a condition of registration. Of course, even so, what tends to happen is that folks pick up auto insurance just before registration renewal, pay their registration, then drop the insurance again. Some states have responded to that problem by requiring insurance companies to report every time someone drops their insurance. But, what if they are just switching policies? You see the problem.

    This problem is magnified with health insurance, because there is no convenient lever for enforcing the mandate. How do you make people pay their monthly premium? How do you know whether they did or not? There has been talk of enforcing such a mandate through the income tax return process, but a lot of people are not required to file returns, and even if they are, what’s to stop them from taking up a policy in March, filing their return, and dropping it in May?

    The only way to enforce the mandate is to require proof of insurance to obtain medical treatment, or to force the patient to otherwise pay cash. But this flies in the face of the Camelot notion that health care is a “right”. Of course, it is not, but that’s beside the point. By the way, the next time someone insists to you that health care is a right, explain to them how the Bill of Rights is actually a guarantee by the government that THEY will leave YOU alone with respect to certain activities you engage in. In no way does the Constitution grant or imply rights to you that the government guarantees by mandating other private citizens to perform. But that’s the twisted world we live in.

    Now, under statute (not the Constitution), the government does force emergency rooms to treat patients presenting themselves for treatment, no matter whether their malady is truly an emergency, without first demanding payment. So, I guess, to this extent, “emergency” health care is a right. But we see how that has worked out. Try to find a functioning emergency room in the inner city these days.

  • J

    For those of you who don’t think health care ought to be a right, what will you do when your insurance company refuses to cover teh cost of your illness, or refuses even to offer coverage because of a pre-existing condition? I’d like to hear this discussed not from the point of view of “I’m fat and happy with my gold standard coverage,” but from that of someone who cannot get coverage. Stop thinking like Republicans and think instead like Christians.
    Also, if you’re so against govt-funded health care, why not call for the elimination of the VA? That’s pure socialized health care, though offered only to some (me included, ex-USMC), but funded by everyone else. A former serviceman does not have to go to the VA if he has other coverage. But it’s a safety net. Why not expand the net for others who cannot afford coverage or who are shut out by the insurance industry?

  • J

    For those of you who don’t think health care ought to be a right, what will you do when your insurance company refuses to cover teh cost of your illness, or refuses even to offer coverage because of a pre-existing condition? I’d like to hear this discussed not from the point of view of “I’m fat and happy with my gold standard coverage,” but from that of someone who cannot get coverage. Stop thinking like Republicans and think instead like Christians.
    Also, if you’re so against govt-funded health care, why not call for the elimination of the VA? That’s pure socialized health care, though offered only to some (me included, ex-USMC), but funded by everyone else. A former serviceman does not have to go to the VA if he has other coverage. But it’s a safety net. Why not expand the net for others who cannot afford coverage or who are shut out by the insurance industry?

  • Cincinnatus

    J@16

    Or maybe such folks aren’t nearly so common as those who seek universal health-care seem to want us to believe?

    Speaking of which, “universal health-care” is a misnomer. Health-care is already universally available to anyone who is willing to pay for it, and emergency care–the only kind that should be considered a “right,” anyway–is even available to those who are not willing or able to pay, including those who are not even legal citizens of this country. We’re merely going to change the manner by which the system is funded and managed–for the worse, at least in the latter case (I do not relish the thought of a British-style “health commission” determining which procedures, medications, and tests are “cost-effective”).

    I do not necessarily have a problem with a “safety-net” of sorts for healthcare and I think health insurance can and should be a less burdensome expense for individuals and employers, but one glaring omission has severely irked me throughout this whole discussion on the national level: Obama, Congress, the leftist wing of the media, and nearly everyone else has failed to address–even to acknowledge–the true causes of America’s spiraling health expenses. I will name a few: litigiousness without any rational limits (thus exploding the cost of mandatory malpractice insurance; this is probably the number-one cause of our exorbitant costs, and it could easily be remedied with some simple tort reform), the tendency of private insurance companies to provide full coverage for simple, routine, or otherwise unnecessary procedures that form the bulk of their expenditures (most people do not need to go to the doctor for that head cold, but since insurance will pay the $100 bucks for the office visit, why not? And for the doctor, since the patient isn’t technically paying out-of-pocket, why not charge $100 bucks for something that, in reality, is only worth 20. In other words, insurance should only exist to cover extraordinary or emergency expenses, like cancer treatments or serious surgery, not a routine blood test), price-gouging be Medicare (since Medicare only reimburses doctors for x dollars of a certain procedure which actually costs x+y dollars, doctors have to recover the y dollars from other sources), America’s tendency to rely on expensive new technologies and procedures (not necessarily a bad thing; we have more multimillion-dollar MRI machines than any other nation by far), and, really, a host of other reasons that are, in short, easily remedied or something we are willing to pay extra for anyway (I, personally, am OK with having more MRI machines than Canada).

    Now, please explain to me how mandatory coverage or anything else about the current plan proposed by Congress will ideally address any of those issues without compromising quality of care or rationing health care more than it already is?

  • Cincinnatus

    J@16

    Or maybe such folks aren’t nearly so common as those who seek universal health-care seem to want us to believe?

    Speaking of which, “universal health-care” is a misnomer. Health-care is already universally available to anyone who is willing to pay for it, and emergency care–the only kind that should be considered a “right,” anyway–is even available to those who are not willing or able to pay, including those who are not even legal citizens of this country. We’re merely going to change the manner by which the system is funded and managed–for the worse, at least in the latter case (I do not relish the thought of a British-style “health commission” determining which procedures, medications, and tests are “cost-effective”).

    I do not necessarily have a problem with a “safety-net” of sorts for healthcare and I think health insurance can and should be a less burdensome expense for individuals and employers, but one glaring omission has severely irked me throughout this whole discussion on the national level: Obama, Congress, the leftist wing of the media, and nearly everyone else has failed to address–even to acknowledge–the true causes of America’s spiraling health expenses. I will name a few: litigiousness without any rational limits (thus exploding the cost of mandatory malpractice insurance; this is probably the number-one cause of our exorbitant costs, and it could easily be remedied with some simple tort reform), the tendency of private insurance companies to provide full coverage for simple, routine, or otherwise unnecessary procedures that form the bulk of their expenditures (most people do not need to go to the doctor for that head cold, but since insurance will pay the $100 bucks for the office visit, why not? And for the doctor, since the patient isn’t technically paying out-of-pocket, why not charge $100 bucks for something that, in reality, is only worth 20. In other words, insurance should only exist to cover extraordinary or emergency expenses, like cancer treatments or serious surgery, not a routine blood test), price-gouging be Medicare (since Medicare only reimburses doctors for x dollars of a certain procedure which actually costs x+y dollars, doctors have to recover the y dollars from other sources), America’s tendency to rely on expensive new technologies and procedures (not necessarily a bad thing; we have more multimillion-dollar MRI machines than any other nation by far), and, really, a host of other reasons that are, in short, easily remedied or something we are willing to pay extra for anyway (I, personally, am OK with having more MRI machines than Canada).

    Now, please explain to me how mandatory coverage or anything else about the current plan proposed by Congress will ideally address any of those issues without compromising quality of care or rationing health care more than it already is?

  • DonS

    J @ 16: We used to have a thing called charity in this country. The Christian community, for example, set up a wonderful system of hospitals which provided charity care to those in need. It’s too bad that the government came in and largely ruined that system with its mandates and bureaucracy.

    Even so, we already have Medicaid, which provides health care to those unable to pay for it.

    As far as the VA is concerned, that is a horse of a different color. It is, essentially, a benefit given in exchange for services rendered to our country. I’m not really sure how you could equate that system with a system based on a new “right” to government healthcare granted to every resident, legal or illegal, regardless of service.

    By the way, thank you very much for your service as a Marine.

  • DonS

    J @ 16: We used to have a thing called charity in this country. The Christian community, for example, set up a wonderful system of hospitals which provided charity care to those in need. It’s too bad that the government came in and largely ruined that system with its mandates and bureaucracy.

    Even so, we already have Medicaid, which provides health care to those unable to pay for it.

    As far as the VA is concerned, that is a horse of a different color. It is, essentially, a benefit given in exchange for services rendered to our country. I’m not really sure how you could equate that system with a system based on a new “right” to government healthcare granted to every resident, legal or illegal, regardless of service.

    By the way, thank you very much for your service as a Marine.

  • Cincinnatus

    Keep in mind two other facets that have been utterly ignored in our recent public discourse, both of which relate to issues of individual liberty:

    1. What if I really don’t want health-coverage? Now that I am married, health insurance is essential (in case of a pregnancy, etc.)–and guess what? It’s not difficult to obtain–just get a freakin’ job that offers benefits (also not as hard as it sounds) or purchase a basic plan that covers extraordinary care (easily $100/mo. or less). But when I was single and healthy, I was perfectly content to do without health insurance. It was a risk I was willing to take, and, to be quite honest, a free society cannot exist without some element of risk.

    2. Once the government is responsible for providing health-care, or at least funding for health-care, it’s prime duty will not be to ensure the best care possible for “The People,” but to keep costs down as best it can based upon a very limited and highly unpredictable revenue stream (i.e., the income tax, etc.). Thus, the government, as it does in the U.K., will have carte blanche authority to regulate literally every aspect of your life as it pertains to health. Do sodas contribute to obesity? Tax the hell out of them so the government does not have to pay for more obesity-related care. Exercise is good for you? Mandate it. Various and sundry other hitherto-personal choices and habits “detrimental” to your health? Regulate, tax, prohibit, mandate, or otherwise bureaucratically manipulate them and thus your lives in an effort to maintain “public health” and reduce “public costs.”

  • Cincinnatus

    Keep in mind two other facets that have been utterly ignored in our recent public discourse, both of which relate to issues of individual liberty:

    1. What if I really don’t want health-coverage? Now that I am married, health insurance is essential (in case of a pregnancy, etc.)–and guess what? It’s not difficult to obtain–just get a freakin’ job that offers benefits (also not as hard as it sounds) or purchase a basic plan that covers extraordinary care (easily $100/mo. or less). But when I was single and healthy, I was perfectly content to do without health insurance. It was a risk I was willing to take, and, to be quite honest, a free society cannot exist without some element of risk.

    2. Once the government is responsible for providing health-care, or at least funding for health-care, it’s prime duty will not be to ensure the best care possible for “The People,” but to keep costs down as best it can based upon a very limited and highly unpredictable revenue stream (i.e., the income tax, etc.). Thus, the government, as it does in the U.K., will have carte blanche authority to regulate literally every aspect of your life as it pertains to health. Do sodas contribute to obesity? Tax the hell out of them so the government does not have to pay for more obesity-related care. Exercise is good for you? Mandate it. Various and sundry other hitherto-personal choices and habits “detrimental” to your health? Regulate, tax, prohibit, mandate, or otherwise bureaucratically manipulate them and thus your lives in an effort to maintain “public health” and reduce “public costs.”

  • J

    My challenge that readers try to see health care from the point of view of a fellow Christian who can’t afford it is proving to be, predictably, a tough one.

    DonS @ 20 – your comments are well suited to the 19th century.

  • J

    My challenge that readers try to see health care from the point of view of a fellow Christian who can’t afford it is proving to be, predictably, a tough one.

    DonS @ 20 – your comments are well suited to the 19th century.

  • Cincinnatus

    J@20 And my challenge to readers to prove that the current health plan proffered by Congress will indeed make it more affordable and/or better than infinitely more simple and less dangerous methods is proving to be, predictably, a tough one.

  • Cincinnatus

    J@20 And my challenge to readers to prove that the current health plan proffered by Congress will indeed make it more affordable and/or better than infinitely more simple and less dangerous methods is proving to be, predictably, a tough one.

  • Cincinnatus

    J@22*

  • Cincinnatus

    J@22*

  • DonS

    J @ 22: Huh?

  • DonS

    J @ 22: Huh?

  • J

    Cincinnatus @ 23 – Thanks, I guess, for proving my point. Digressing into the fantasy of govt-mandated exercise programs is one way to avoid thinking about those who need help.
    Your challenge, such as it is, assumes that Congress is currently offering a ‘health plan.’ If so, would you describe it? There’s a hodgepodge of legislation right now.
    But you also wrongly assume that Obama and the progressive Dems want to take over health care as opposed to offering (e.g., Medicare, the VA) an option to those shut out by the profit-driven insurers. Health care is simply not an issue that can be resolved by letting the market control.
    I’m a taxpayer and I’m concerned about the deficits this country runs. But I’m also disgusted that many Christians abet the rich and powerful by refusing to support any relief for our poorer friends and neighbors.
    Your and other’s comments about obesity and other health problems among the great unwashed who would be helped by your taxes (just as you are by theirs) are sad.

  • J

    Cincinnatus @ 23 – Thanks, I guess, for proving my point. Digressing into the fantasy of govt-mandated exercise programs is one way to avoid thinking about those who need help.
    Your challenge, such as it is, assumes that Congress is currently offering a ‘health plan.’ If so, would you describe it? There’s a hodgepodge of legislation right now.
    But you also wrongly assume that Obama and the progressive Dems want to take over health care as opposed to offering (e.g., Medicare, the VA) an option to those shut out by the profit-driven insurers. Health care is simply not an issue that can be resolved by letting the market control.
    I’m a taxpayer and I’m concerned about the deficits this country runs. But I’m also disgusted that many Christians abet the rich and powerful by refusing to support any relief for our poorer friends and neighbors.
    Your and other’s comments about obesity and other health problems among the great unwashed who would be helped by your taxes (just as you are by theirs) are sad.

  • http://mesamike.org Mike Westfall

    It strikes me as a rather sad commentary on modern society that we have largely mistaken the charity of our fellow citizens for a basic human right.

    And now, we are being told, Orwellian-like, that not only is access to health care a Basic Human Right, but that purchasing said access for ourselves in the form of “insurance” is a Basic Human Responsibility, which we shall mandate by coercion.

    The argument, that if everyone participates in insurance then it will be cheaper for all, might be true. But don’t deny that implementing this would be coercive collectivism in action.

    ..and…. Where is the constitutional authority to do any of this?

  • http://mesamike.org Mike Westfall

    It strikes me as a rather sad commentary on modern society that we have largely mistaken the charity of our fellow citizens for a basic human right.

    And now, we are being told, Orwellian-like, that not only is access to health care a Basic Human Right, but that purchasing said access for ourselves in the form of “insurance” is a Basic Human Responsibility, which we shall mandate by coercion.

    The argument, that if everyone participates in insurance then it will be cheaper for all, might be true. But don’t deny that implementing this would be coercive collectivism in action.

    ..and…. Where is the constitutional authority to do any of this?

  • Cincinnatus

    J@26

    For want of time, rather than responding point-by-point to your argument (which, incidentally, failed to address any of my contentions), I’ll merely state this:

    If you doubt that the current plan on the legislative table, such as it is (albeit incomplete), will outlaw private insurance, lead to intrusive government regulation of otherwise personal choices, directly cause an indefensible system of care-rationing, etc., keep in mind that Congress’s work-in-progress, as far as it has gotten, is identical, for all practical purposes, to the system first established by Canada when it began a reversion to a single-payer system.

  • Cincinnatus

    J@26

    For want of time, rather than responding point-by-point to your argument (which, incidentally, failed to address any of my contentions), I’ll merely state this:

    If you doubt that the current plan on the legislative table, such as it is (albeit incomplete), will outlaw private insurance, lead to intrusive government regulation of otherwise personal choices, directly cause an indefensible system of care-rationing, etc., keep in mind that Congress’s work-in-progress, as far as it has gotten, is identical, for all practical purposes, to the system first established by Canada when it began a reversion to a single-payer system.

  • Cincinnatus

    Also, J, you persist in asserting that it is our Christian duty to assist those in need (in this case, when they need healthcare, whether optional or essential), which is fine and entirely true, but the manner by which you construct your argument assumes that anything we need, anything we are bound by our faith to do–in this case, healthcare–is thus a human right to those whom we offer our assistance.

    While this argument is sadly not new, suffice to say that it requires an essential redefinition of the term “human right” as it has traditionally and properly been understood in Western, particularly American, society.

    The fact that I “need” something–food, water, heart surgery, a job–does not make it a human “right” to which I am entitled simply by definition and virtue of being a human being. All of the above necessities have been at various times deemed to be “rights,” but it should not be so, and it has not been so in any successful past civilization. Man can eat “only by the sweat of his brow.” However, he has a right to live unmolested simply because he is a human being with all the dignity appertaining.

    Government, by one construal, is instituted to preserve our essential rights–namely, those to life, liberty, and property; i.e., our “negative rights.” You are summoning an entirely new category of “positive” human rights, by which you mean, essentially, anything that a human being needs to maintain biological life. This is unfortunate in itself (to demonstrate why this is so would require a more complex discussion of rights, however), but on a practical level quite relevant to the current healthcare discussion, it puts government in the awkward and unsustainable position of having to provide/protect all these so-called rights as well. No matter how much we need abundant food, endless clean water, sturdy shelters from the weather, and expensive liver transplants, the government cannot and, more importantly, ought not seek to provide these things (again, the “ought” portion of the argument would require a more lengthy discussion to prove; nevertheless, rest assured that our government cannot realistically provide any or all of these things).

    Charity =/= human right
    Necessity =/= human right
    Government =/= an instrument of charity, i.e. a medium by which the Christian can claim to be fulfilling the great commandment

    p.s. The only reason I cite government “exercise programs” and other intrusive regulations is because I know firsthand that such uses of government authority and public funds are the norm in nearly all countries with single-payer or otherwise-subsidized health systems across the globe. Try a stint as a UK citizen for a while. In short, liberty is essentially dead in that country, the blame for which lies almost exclusively in the lap of the NHS. Honestly, how do you think this new government insurance option is going to “keep costs down” except by 1) rationing care and 2) regulating the lives of its participants to ensure that they are living “healthy” lives, as is typical in all other government health programs.

  • Cincinnatus

    Also, J, you persist in asserting that it is our Christian duty to assist those in need (in this case, when they need healthcare, whether optional or essential), which is fine and entirely true, but the manner by which you construct your argument assumes that anything we need, anything we are bound by our faith to do–in this case, healthcare–is thus a human right to those whom we offer our assistance.

    While this argument is sadly not new, suffice to say that it requires an essential redefinition of the term “human right” as it has traditionally and properly been understood in Western, particularly American, society.

    The fact that I “need” something–food, water, heart surgery, a job–does not make it a human “right” to which I am entitled simply by definition and virtue of being a human being. All of the above necessities have been at various times deemed to be “rights,” but it should not be so, and it has not been so in any successful past civilization. Man can eat “only by the sweat of his brow.” However, he has a right to live unmolested simply because he is a human being with all the dignity appertaining.

    Government, by one construal, is instituted to preserve our essential rights–namely, those to life, liberty, and property; i.e., our “negative rights.” You are summoning an entirely new category of “positive” human rights, by which you mean, essentially, anything that a human being needs to maintain biological life. This is unfortunate in itself (to demonstrate why this is so would require a more complex discussion of rights, however), but on a practical level quite relevant to the current healthcare discussion, it puts government in the awkward and unsustainable position of having to provide/protect all these so-called rights as well. No matter how much we need abundant food, endless clean water, sturdy shelters from the weather, and expensive liver transplants, the government cannot and, more importantly, ought not seek to provide these things (again, the “ought” portion of the argument would require a more lengthy discussion to prove; nevertheless, rest assured that our government cannot realistically provide any or all of these things).

    Charity =/= human right
    Necessity =/= human right
    Government =/= an instrument of charity, i.e. a medium by which the Christian can claim to be fulfilling the great commandment

    p.s. The only reason I cite government “exercise programs” and other intrusive regulations is because I know firsthand that such uses of government authority and public funds are the norm in nearly all countries with single-payer or otherwise-subsidized health systems across the globe. Try a stint as a UK citizen for a while. In short, liberty is essentially dead in that country, the blame for which lies almost exclusively in the lap of the NHS. Honestly, how do you think this new government insurance option is going to “keep costs down” except by 1) rationing care and 2) regulating the lives of its participants to ensure that they are living “healthy” lives, as is typical in all other government health programs.

  • Cincinnatus

    Oh, and 3) artificially subsidizing itself with involuntary tax funds apart from the profit motive and 3a) thus putting private insurance companies out of business which leads to 3b) mandating participation in the government “option” by all citizens(combined with outlawing private insurance), even by those who are completely healthy and would prefer to opt-out, to “keep costs down.” This was essentially the path followed by Canada in previous decades.

    So, apart from any discussion of what Christians “owe” to the sick, which has literally nothing to do with single-payer health or the government in general and is not necessarily compromised by a modified market system, how is this course of action better than the simple and liberating fixes I proposed earlier?

  • Cincinnatus

    Oh, and 3) artificially subsidizing itself with involuntary tax funds apart from the profit motive and 3a) thus putting private insurance companies out of business which leads to 3b) mandating participation in the government “option” by all citizens(combined with outlawing private insurance), even by those who are completely healthy and would prefer to opt-out, to “keep costs down.” This was essentially the path followed by Canada in previous decades.

    So, apart from any discussion of what Christians “owe” to the sick, which has literally nothing to do with single-payer health or the government in general and is not necessarily compromised by a modified market system, how is this course of action better than the simple and liberating fixes I proposed earlier?

  • Bryan Lindemood

    I think the government should put its best foot forward here and at least try (if its with the help of private companies, I say all the better). Christians should prepare themselves to rush in, where the government fears to tread and be ready to fearlessly extend a free hand of mercy. This is how the first hospitals were founded, and God can create just as amazing institutions of mercy today through Christians who have no fear of sickness, poverty, or death. Christ have mercy.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    I think the government should put its best foot forward here and at least try (if its with the help of private companies, I say all the better). Christians should prepare themselves to rush in, where the government fears to tread and be ready to fearlessly extend a free hand of mercy. This is how the first hospitals were founded, and God can create just as amazing institutions of mercy today through Christians who have no fear of sickness, poverty, or death. Christ have mercy.

  • Stephanie

    In my opinion a human right is something that all humans have, in equal measure, by virtue of their humanity. Take the right to free speech. Are there limits? Yes; you cannot yell “fire” in a crowded theater if there is no actual fire without facing consequences. However, that right is afforded to all equally – the rich, the poor, the intelligent, the less so, the strong, the weak. Those who are rich do not pay more money for their right to free speech than those with less money. It is a right offered to all on equal terms.

    Thus if we are to consider health insurance or health care a human right, why do we plan to ask those of means to pay more into the system than those without means? Why should anyone pay anything for something that is his “right.” Which is why I think we need different language for discussing the topic. If it costs money, it cannot be a right because it is not something offered equally to all. It may be offered to all, but not equally if some pay more and some pay less and some pay nothing.

    Which is not to say that aiding the less well off with health insurance is a bad idea. But it is not a *right*.

  • Stephanie

    In my opinion a human right is something that all humans have, in equal measure, by virtue of their humanity. Take the right to free speech. Are there limits? Yes; you cannot yell “fire” in a crowded theater if there is no actual fire without facing consequences. However, that right is afforded to all equally – the rich, the poor, the intelligent, the less so, the strong, the weak. Those who are rich do not pay more money for their right to free speech than those with less money. It is a right offered to all on equal terms.

    Thus if we are to consider health insurance or health care a human right, why do we plan to ask those of means to pay more into the system than those without means? Why should anyone pay anything for something that is his “right.” Which is why I think we need different language for discussing the topic. If it costs money, it cannot be a right because it is not something offered equally to all. It may be offered to all, but not equally if some pay more and some pay less and some pay nothing.

    Which is not to say that aiding the less well off with health insurance is a bad idea. But it is not a *right*.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Congressman Paul Ryan, who has a thorough understanding of the Democrat’s reckless health care proposal sums it up as follows:

    It is clear that the Democratic plan is prohibitively expensive and fiscally reckless. It will fail to control health care costs, exacerbate our growing debt, and require crushing taxes. Their approach would spend trillions more dollars, mandate that all employers provide health insurance, impose massive new tax burdens on workers and heath care practitioners, and exacerbate our entitlement crisis with the creation of another open-ended entitlement. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has informed the Senate that their health care plan would worsen the overall fiscal outlook, and its review so far of the House proposal draws the same conclusion. It makes the fiscal situation even worse.

    That plan will undermine the excellence of American health care and displace those who are happy with their insurance coverage. (Surveys show that 80 percent or more are satisfied with their current arrangements.) It will stifle the energy and ingenuity which have given this nation’s science and technology the edge in global medical research and innovation.

    Their plan will insert the government between doctors and patients. This would constrain the freedom of medical providers, limit patient options, and restrict the right of patients to make personal health care decisions in consultation with their doctor.

    Liberals like J have their heads in the sand on this issue. The unfunded liability of Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare are estimated at about $60 trillion; now Obama comes along with another program that has been judged by the CBO to be fiscally reckless.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Congressman Paul Ryan, who has a thorough understanding of the Democrat’s reckless health care proposal sums it up as follows:

    It is clear that the Democratic plan is prohibitively expensive and fiscally reckless. It will fail to control health care costs, exacerbate our growing debt, and require crushing taxes. Their approach would spend trillions more dollars, mandate that all employers provide health insurance, impose massive new tax burdens on workers and heath care practitioners, and exacerbate our entitlement crisis with the creation of another open-ended entitlement. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has informed the Senate that their health care plan would worsen the overall fiscal outlook, and its review so far of the House proposal draws the same conclusion. It makes the fiscal situation even worse.

    That plan will undermine the excellence of American health care and displace those who are happy with their insurance coverage. (Surveys show that 80 percent or more are satisfied with their current arrangements.) It will stifle the energy and ingenuity which have given this nation’s science and technology the edge in global medical research and innovation.

    Their plan will insert the government between doctors and patients. This would constrain the freedom of medical providers, limit patient options, and restrict the right of patients to make personal health care decisions in consultation with their doctor.

    Liberals like J have their heads in the sand on this issue. The unfunded liability of Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare are estimated at about $60 trillion; now Obama comes along with another program that has been judged by the CBO to be fiscally reckless.

  • kerner

    J, first, thank you for your service.

    2nd: I speak as one who once was without health insurance, and fathered 3 children in that position (I actually have 5 kids, but I managed to have health insurance when the other 2 were born). To this day I am resolving the effects of being in that position.

    Being without health insurance was partly not my choice (I lost my job), and partly my own responsibility (I started my own practice, and had trouble paying for health insurance while meeting my other responsibilities. When my wife became pregnant (not a choice, per se, but the activity that got her that way was certainly our choice) my financial responsibilities increased and my ability to afford insurance decreased. But, being in this position, I learned several things that most people don’t know.

    You can, for a very small amount of money, buy accident insurance that covers your children and includes medical expenses.

    You can buy, for a very small amount of money, $50,000.00 worth of med pay coverage as part of your auto insurance that applies to everyone in your car…even you.

    If you have no medical insurance, you can negotiate with an ob-gyn (a)as to what his fee will be and (b) monthly payments that begin 7 months before the child is born and extend out beyond the due date. You can also give a hospital a down payment and make payments until you have paid them off. Hospitals don’t like it, but they’ll do it.

    If your kids get sick, their pediatricians will make similar arrangements. As will your dentist, your internist and everybody else.

    When my youngest son was born, he had jauntice. The treatment for that is to shine bright lights on the infant (I used to know why, but it was 19 years ago) Anyway, when the visiting nurse came to my house with the lights, she explained that she would come by twice a day to take my son’t temperature and check his little blindfold to make sure the lights weren’t blinding him. When I told her (in response to her question) that I was going to self pay for all this, she decided that she could visit us once every other day, if she could show my wife and I how to use a rectal thermomether and check an infant’s blindfold (I guess we passed, because that’s what she did). What I learned from this is that there is a lot that health care providers do that patients can choose to do for themselves if they want to save the money.

  • kerner

    J, first, thank you for your service.

    2nd: I speak as one who once was without health insurance, and fathered 3 children in that position (I actually have 5 kids, but I managed to have health insurance when the other 2 were born). To this day I am resolving the effects of being in that position.

    Being without health insurance was partly not my choice (I lost my job), and partly my own responsibility (I started my own practice, and had trouble paying for health insurance while meeting my other responsibilities. When my wife became pregnant (not a choice, per se, but the activity that got her that way was certainly our choice) my financial responsibilities increased and my ability to afford insurance decreased. But, being in this position, I learned several things that most people don’t know.

    You can, for a very small amount of money, buy accident insurance that covers your children and includes medical expenses.

    You can buy, for a very small amount of money, $50,000.00 worth of med pay coverage as part of your auto insurance that applies to everyone in your car…even you.

    If you have no medical insurance, you can negotiate with an ob-gyn (a)as to what his fee will be and (b) monthly payments that begin 7 months before the child is born and extend out beyond the due date. You can also give a hospital a down payment and make payments until you have paid them off. Hospitals don’t like it, but they’ll do it.

    If your kids get sick, their pediatricians will make similar arrangements. As will your dentist, your internist and everybody else.

    When my youngest son was born, he had jauntice. The treatment for that is to shine bright lights on the infant (I used to know why, but it was 19 years ago) Anyway, when the visiting nurse came to my house with the lights, she explained that she would come by twice a day to take my son’t temperature and check his little blindfold to make sure the lights weren’t blinding him. When I told her (in response to her question) that I was going to self pay for all this, she decided that she could visit us once every other day, if she could show my wife and I how to use a rectal thermomether and check an infant’s blindfold (I guess we passed, because that’s what she did). What I learned from this is that there is a lot that health care providers do that patients can choose to do for themselves if they want to save the money.

  • Booklover

    J #16~~You asked for an example. We are one.

    My husband has usually had a job which pays well. He has also had 4 major back surgeries. His spine is basically deteriorating. In the midst of all this, he had to change business companies; therefore new insurance did not cover his back due to the pre-existing condition clause. We went several years with no insurance–couldn’t afford it, he owns his own business–and we had four children.

    My husband has paid tens of thousands of dollars of his own money on his back. We have tried to make do by going to doctors who give us a break due to no insurance. They are rare, but can be found.

    Now we have insurance again, but it is dreadfully costly and we had to take a very high deductible. This means that I pay over $175/monthly just for one asthma-preventative med. Though his job usually pays well, our bills are tremendous and he doesn’t know how long he can maintain his small business. He is under a lot of stress, which further hurts his back.

    Aside from all of our troubles, my husband and I still believe in personal responsibility and are totally against government-run healthcare for all of the reasons mentioned; e.g. care will be rationed–old people will not be considered “worthy” to be operated on; abortions will be covered by our tax dollars (even more than they are now); government watchdog societies will be created to curb our behaviours, etc. etc.

    We believe in charity–giving personal money instead of other people’s money via taxes. In our better days, my husband was able to give many charitable donations to those who were hurting. J, if you were asking so that you could be charitable, I could provide you with an address.

  • Booklover

    J #16~~You asked for an example. We are one.

    My husband has usually had a job which pays well. He has also had 4 major back surgeries. His spine is basically deteriorating. In the midst of all this, he had to change business companies; therefore new insurance did not cover his back due to the pre-existing condition clause. We went several years with no insurance–couldn’t afford it, he owns his own business–and we had four children.

    My husband has paid tens of thousands of dollars of his own money on his back. We have tried to make do by going to doctors who give us a break due to no insurance. They are rare, but can be found.

    Now we have insurance again, but it is dreadfully costly and we had to take a very high deductible. This means that I pay over $175/monthly just for one asthma-preventative med. Though his job usually pays well, our bills are tremendous and he doesn’t know how long he can maintain his small business. He is under a lot of stress, which further hurts his back.

    Aside from all of our troubles, my husband and I still believe in personal responsibility and are totally against government-run healthcare for all of the reasons mentioned; e.g. care will be rationed–old people will not be considered “worthy” to be operated on; abortions will be covered by our tax dollars (even more than they are now); government watchdog societies will be created to curb our behaviours, etc. etc.

    We believe in charity–giving personal money instead of other people’s money via taxes. In our better days, my husband was able to give many charitable donations to those who were hurting. J, if you were asking so that you could be charitable, I could provide you with an address.

  • Booklover

    My husband and I do not trust Obama’s plans for national healthcare or anything else. He has taken over GM. Here in Montana, GM has withdrawn their written contract with our local platinum and palladium mine, and is going with mines from Russia and South Africa instead. This means that the government bailout of GM (with our tax dollars) is in effect subsidizing overseas mining jobs, and cutting ours.

  • Booklover

    My husband and I do not trust Obama’s plans for national healthcare or anything else. He has taken over GM. Here in Montana, GM has withdrawn their written contract with our local platinum and palladium mine, and is going with mines from Russia and South Africa instead. This means that the government bailout of GM (with our tax dollars) is in effect subsidizing overseas mining jobs, and cutting ours.

  • kerner

    continued:

    So, what I really learned is that the larger the the provider of health care coverage is, the more inefficient and loaded with waste and fee padding it will be. The government is, of course, the largest, most bureaucratic and inefficient provider of health care coverage possible. Oops, sorry, swerved into Republican mode for a second there

    You mentioned the VA. My father, a veteran and Multiple Sclerosis sufferer, got all his health care from the VA for the last 15 years or so of his life. I found the care to be very inefficient and over bureaucratized. He had no control over who his doctor was and the doctor assigned to him changed frequently. The doctors he did see had heavy caseloads. Consequently, the quality of his care suffered because much of the very limited time each doctor had to spend with my father was wasted in bringing each new doctor up to speed on his many conditions. On the other hand, my father lived to be almost 81, and the VA rebuilt his house to accomodate his disability (which was cheaper than providing him with a residential treatment bed).

    Wierdly enough, while I was typing this, a private insurance company telemarketer called my cell phone (no kidding…really), took my medical information (I am 54, my wife is 57, I have high blood pressure and high cholesterol–both controlled by medication, my wife has diabetes, neither of us use tobacco or have suffered a heart attack or stroke) and offered us health care coverage, including optical and dental, for $259.00/month. I suspect that this coverage is is somewhat limited, and that the prescription drug benefits are not so hot, but I could afford this. But I didn’t seriously consider it, because my wife, who now works for a school district, gets the rolls royce of healtrh care plans at no cost to us (but, I am told, at a cost of about $1,800.00/month to the taxpayers).

    So, basically, health care coverage wise, I can say, like St. Paul:

    “I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound…I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” Philippians 4:12

  • kerner

    continued:

    So, what I really learned is that the larger the the provider of health care coverage is, the more inefficient and loaded with waste and fee padding it will be. The government is, of course, the largest, most bureaucratic and inefficient provider of health care coverage possible. Oops, sorry, swerved into Republican mode for a second there

    You mentioned the VA. My father, a veteran and Multiple Sclerosis sufferer, got all his health care from the VA for the last 15 years or so of his life. I found the care to be very inefficient and over bureaucratized. He had no control over who his doctor was and the doctor assigned to him changed frequently. The doctors he did see had heavy caseloads. Consequently, the quality of his care suffered because much of the very limited time each doctor had to spend with my father was wasted in bringing each new doctor up to speed on his many conditions. On the other hand, my father lived to be almost 81, and the VA rebuilt his house to accomodate his disability (which was cheaper than providing him with a residential treatment bed).

    Wierdly enough, while I was typing this, a private insurance company telemarketer called my cell phone (no kidding…really), took my medical information (I am 54, my wife is 57, I have high blood pressure and high cholesterol–both controlled by medication, my wife has diabetes, neither of us use tobacco or have suffered a heart attack or stroke) and offered us health care coverage, including optical and dental, for $259.00/month. I suspect that this coverage is is somewhat limited, and that the prescription drug benefits are not so hot, but I could afford this. But I didn’t seriously consider it, because my wife, who now works for a school district, gets the rolls royce of healtrh care plans at no cost to us (but, I am told, at a cost of about $1,800.00/month to the taxpayers).

    So, basically, health care coverage wise, I can say, like St. Paul:

    “I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound…I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” Philippians 4:12

  • kerner

    So, anyway, J, I’ll try to respond like a Christian, and not a conservative (even though I believe that there is a significant amount of overlap between Christian beliefs and conservative principles).

    I think all health care insurance should primarily consist of catastrophic care policies. It should be illegal for a policy to have an annual deductable of less than $1,000.00 per person, and maybe higher than that. This will introduce market forces to the health care industry and keep the costs of routine care low. It would also keep the premiums low as few claims would have to be paid, because it is really rare that an individual’s health care expenses exceeds such a high deductable.

    I also think that health care insurance should be owned by the individual and be portable. But I still think that employers should have the option of paying their employee’s health insurance premiums as a tax deductable benefit. Employers could also set up health care savings accounts to cover deductables as a before tax benefit to employees. Or, individuals would be able to start their own HCSAs themselves and deduct the costs on their individual returns. Kind of like the way your employer can set up a 401(k), or you can have an IRA. Either way, it’s tax deductable.

    Fraternal organizations, Like Aid Association for Lutherans, Lutheran Brotherhood, Catholic Knights, etc. could set up these policies. I am pretty sure that this is exactly what they used to do before health insurance became taken over by employers, and a lot of people belonged to fraternal organizations for just this purpose. This is also the reason we had in the past hospitals affiliated with various religions and even the Shriners.

    I have absolutely no problem with there being taxes on things like sugary or fatty foods (within reason, and I hope that’s not too big an opportunity for abuse). We already have taxes on alcohol and tobacco, and even though I am very skeptical of the government giving up any other source of revenue in favor of targeted taxes, I still think value added taxes to things that can cause health problems is not a bad idea. Hopefully, this would encourage moderation. Once again, I said “within reason”. You can tax anything out of existance. And it’s important to realize that everybody is going to get sick and die. When they do, it’s going to cost money. Getting them to stop smoking, drinking, or eating unhealthy foods is not going to reduce the cost of treating whatever eventually kills them. And SOMETHING will kill all of us.

    I think tort reform is a must. A major contributor to the cost of health care is the cost of malpractice insurance. I read last year that Texas reformed its med-mal laws, and the cost of health care dropped significantly, while health care professionals began moving to the state. This enabled health care providers in Texas to come up with new ways to provide health care to Texas’ uninsured poor (which, being a border state, Texas has a lot of).

    What I would NOT do is turn anything so important as health care over to the federal government to administer. Maybe the conservative in me is coming out again, but I firmly believe that a centrally planned government program for health care will increase costs and decrease the quality of care substantially, for the poor more than anyone else. As a Christian, I find that to be an unacceptable result. So I oppose most of wht Congress is considering now.

  • kerner

    So, anyway, J, I’ll try to respond like a Christian, and not a conservative (even though I believe that there is a significant amount of overlap between Christian beliefs and conservative principles).

    I think all health care insurance should primarily consist of catastrophic care policies. It should be illegal for a policy to have an annual deductable of less than $1,000.00 per person, and maybe higher than that. This will introduce market forces to the health care industry and keep the costs of routine care low. It would also keep the premiums low as few claims would have to be paid, because it is really rare that an individual’s health care expenses exceeds such a high deductable.

    I also think that health care insurance should be owned by the individual and be portable. But I still think that employers should have the option of paying their employee’s health insurance premiums as a tax deductable benefit. Employers could also set up health care savings accounts to cover deductables as a before tax benefit to employees. Or, individuals would be able to start their own HCSAs themselves and deduct the costs on their individual returns. Kind of like the way your employer can set up a 401(k), or you can have an IRA. Either way, it’s tax deductable.

    Fraternal organizations, Like Aid Association for Lutherans, Lutheran Brotherhood, Catholic Knights, etc. could set up these policies. I am pretty sure that this is exactly what they used to do before health insurance became taken over by employers, and a lot of people belonged to fraternal organizations for just this purpose. This is also the reason we had in the past hospitals affiliated with various religions and even the Shriners.

    I have absolutely no problem with there being taxes on things like sugary or fatty foods (within reason, and I hope that’s not too big an opportunity for abuse). We already have taxes on alcohol and tobacco, and even though I am very skeptical of the government giving up any other source of revenue in favor of targeted taxes, I still think value added taxes to things that can cause health problems is not a bad idea. Hopefully, this would encourage moderation. Once again, I said “within reason”. You can tax anything out of existance. And it’s important to realize that everybody is going to get sick and die. When they do, it’s going to cost money. Getting them to stop smoking, drinking, or eating unhealthy foods is not going to reduce the cost of treating whatever eventually kills them. And SOMETHING will kill all of us.

    I think tort reform is a must. A major contributor to the cost of health care is the cost of malpractice insurance. I read last year that Texas reformed its med-mal laws, and the cost of health care dropped significantly, while health care professionals began moving to the state. This enabled health care providers in Texas to come up with new ways to provide health care to Texas’ uninsured poor (which, being a border state, Texas has a lot of).

    What I would NOT do is turn anything so important as health care over to the federal government to administer. Maybe the conservative in me is coming out again, but I firmly believe that a centrally planned government program for health care will increase costs and decrease the quality of care substantially, for the poor more than anyone else. As a Christian, I find that to be an unacceptable result. So I oppose most of wht Congress is considering now.

  • fws

    the proof is in the pudding I say.

    I would not be so very disappointed if our country looked more like canada.

    detroit how many homicides per year? windsor canada next door how many? zero. Nobody locks their front door in toronto. they have more guns in the hands of private citizens than we do per capita….

    there are DEFINATE problems with socialism. we see it in the REPUBLICAN-DEMOCRAT approved social security-medicare-etc socialisms we have today in the usa.

    Politics are about tradeoffs.

  • fws

    the proof is in the pudding I say.

    I would not be so very disappointed if our country looked more like canada.

    detroit how many homicides per year? windsor canada next door how many? zero. Nobody locks their front door in toronto. they have more guns in the hands of private citizens than we do per capita….

    there are DEFINATE problems with socialism. we see it in the REPUBLICAN-DEMOCRAT approved social security-medicare-etc socialisms we have today in the usa.

    Politics are about tradeoffs.

  • wayne pelling

    If you want to see a child that Canada’s system spawned go to
    http://www.medicareaustralia.gov.au .
    We also have private health insurance that covers people who are treated in private hospitals but it is still expensive. anyone who is admitted to a public hospital -yes we follow the brits here- is covered by Medicare Australia,which looks after people from the cradle to the grave. Public hospitals are the responsibility of State Governments but HMOs’ are seen as being scandalous

  • wayne pelling

    If you want to see a child that Canada’s system spawned go to
    http://www.medicareaustralia.gov.au .
    We also have private health insurance that covers people who are treated in private hospitals but it is still expensive. anyone who is admitted to a public hospital -yes we follow the brits here- is covered by Medicare Australia,which looks after people from the cradle to the grave. Public hospitals are the responsibility of State Governments but HMOs’ are seen as being scandalous

  • DonS

    Kerner @ 38: I’m with you 100% on your suggested course of action, and in fact posted something similar on a thread some weeks ago. We will not begin to contain health care costs until patients have some accountability and connection to those costs. The Health Spending Account (HSA) coupled with a high deductible policy is an excellent approach because it provides comprehensive coverage for catastrophic medical events, is relatively inexpensive, and gives the patient an incentive to not just go to the doctor or emergency room for every sniffle that comes along.

    Tort reform IS a must. This is one area where my home state of California is in surprisingly good shape, because since the early 1970′s, we have had a $250,000 cap on non-compensatory damages for medical malpractice. As a result, our per capita healthcare costs are actually substantially below average, even though in general California has a high cost of living.

    I can’t buy the snack taxes though. One of the worst things about the government getting its nose under the tent and paying expenses is that the taxpayer money justifies all kinds of intrusions on individual liberty, in the name of protecting those taxpayer dollars. If someone wants to eat a dozen doughnuts a day, or smoke a cigar on their patio, please leave them alone. There is no such thing as a “reasonable” tax. Every time the state budget gets in trouble, they’ll be looking to raise the “cookie tax” again. :-)

  • DonS

    Kerner @ 38: I’m with you 100% on your suggested course of action, and in fact posted something similar on a thread some weeks ago. We will not begin to contain health care costs until patients have some accountability and connection to those costs. The Health Spending Account (HSA) coupled with a high deductible policy is an excellent approach because it provides comprehensive coverage for catastrophic medical events, is relatively inexpensive, and gives the patient an incentive to not just go to the doctor or emergency room for every sniffle that comes along.

    Tort reform IS a must. This is one area where my home state of California is in surprisingly good shape, because since the early 1970′s, we have had a $250,000 cap on non-compensatory damages for medical malpractice. As a result, our per capita healthcare costs are actually substantially below average, even though in general California has a high cost of living.

    I can’t buy the snack taxes though. One of the worst things about the government getting its nose under the tent and paying expenses is that the taxpayer money justifies all kinds of intrusions on individual liberty, in the name of protecting those taxpayer dollars. If someone wants to eat a dozen doughnuts a day, or smoke a cigar on their patio, please leave them alone. There is no such thing as a “reasonable” tax. Every time the state budget gets in trouble, they’ll be looking to raise the “cookie tax” again. :-)

  • http://mesamike.org Mike Westfall

    It occurs to me that part of the reason that health care costs have gotten to where they are is that health care costs are tax-deductible.

    More specifically, that employers are allowed to write off the cost of providing health care plans for their employees. This has lead to employer-provided health care plans being a standard and expected part of the employer-employee bargain.

    The fact that most of us have employer-provided health care plans has lead to the illusion that for most of us, health care is free (modulo a small copay), so we use our health care benefits often, and don’t really care how much it costs our employer.

    I wonder what effect would be had on health care costs if we had to pay them ourselves, instead of just leaching them off our employers?

  • http://mesamike.org Mike Westfall

    It occurs to me that part of the reason that health care costs have gotten to where they are is that health care costs are tax-deductible.

    More specifically, that employers are allowed to write off the cost of providing health care plans for their employees. This has lead to employer-provided health care plans being a standard and expected part of the employer-employee bargain.

    The fact that most of us have employer-provided health care plans has lead to the illusion that for most of us, health care is free (modulo a small copay), so we use our health care benefits often, and don’t really care how much it costs our employer.

    I wonder what effect would be had on health care costs if we had to pay them ourselves, instead of just leaching them off our employers?

  • http://www.oldsolar.com/currentblog.php Rick Ritchie

    kerner at #34 made some good points.

    Not only does not having an employer mean buying your own coverage, but it also means that you are more likely to be rejected for preexisting conditions. Since the insurance companies are not allowed to be so picky with who is allowed into large employer group plans, they make up for it by being picky about whom to allow into individual plans. So the entrepreneur does not really face a free market decision here, now. At #42 we were asked about leaching off employers. I think this needs to be balanced by a recognition that large corporations have an artificially large pool of workers to draw from since employer based plans make individual based health care less of an option for many who might wish to strike out on their own.

  • http://www.oldsolar.com/currentblog.php Rick Ritchie

    kerner at #34 made some good points.

    Not only does not having an employer mean buying your own coverage, but it also means that you are more likely to be rejected for preexisting conditions. Since the insurance companies are not allowed to be so picky with who is allowed into large employer group plans, they make up for it by being picky about whom to allow into individual plans. So the entrepreneur does not really face a free market decision here, now. At #42 we were asked about leaching off employers. I think this needs to be balanced by a recognition that large corporations have an artificially large pool of workers to draw from since employer based plans make individual based health care less of an option for many who might wish to strike out on their own.

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  • Don Birkholz

    In relation to the mandatory auto insurance/mand medical insurance debate, there are 30 percent in some states driving without insurance. proof of insurance at registration doesn’t work, suspending plates, licenses doesn’t work, fines don’t work, vehicle seizures don’t work, it will be interesting to see what the enforcement5 will be (50% don’t pay income taxes). Maybe the fines will be less than the insurance. The Montana DPHHS did a survey (at my request) that showed that there are probably 30,000 in Montana over the last 20 years who would have listed auto insurance as a reason for needing food stamps. Go to http://www.foodstampstudy.com The mandatory medical insurance law will not cause an increase in food stramps, since everyone eligible for food stamps will be getting free Medicaid.

  • Don Birkholz

    In relation to the mandatory auto insurance/mand medical insurance debate, there are 30 percent in some states driving without insurance. proof of insurance at registration doesn’t work, suspending plates, licenses doesn’t work, fines don’t work, vehicle seizures don’t work, it will be interesting to see what the enforcement5 will be (50% don’t pay income taxes). Maybe the fines will be less than the insurance. The Montana DPHHS did a survey (at my request) that showed that there are probably 30,000 in Montana over the last 20 years who would have listed auto insurance as a reason for needing food stamps. Go to http://www.foodstampstudy.com The mandatory medical insurance law will not cause an increase in food stramps, since everyone eligible for food stamps will be getting free Medicaid.


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