Monday, August 31, 2009

The Takeover: What opponents of health care reform don't get

U-S-A, we runnin’ this health shit

Obama, we runnin’ this health shit

Death panels, we runnin’ this health shit

Get zipped up in plastic—when it happens, that’s it.

It’s the takeover, the break’s over. They’re coming for you, so take cover.

The President and his panel of experts think they know better than you and your doctor how to treat what ails you. The government takeover of health care will put a bureaucrat in charge of deciding what health care you get—decisions which are best left between you and your doctor!

More insidiously, the experts think they can pick out which individuals are most valuable to society, and therefore most deserving health care. Fail to make the productivity cut, and that’s it—you get zipped up in plastic, no matter how badly YOU think you deserve to get that expensive lifesaving treatment.

That’s what health insurance companies Republicans want you to believe, and that’s what countless misguided people at town halls across the country are shouting.

The obvious flaw in this line of thinking is that no one is talking about having government decide which treatments would be allowed, but rather which treatments would be paid for by the government under a public option. That’s not a “takeover” of health care. Doctors would not be employed by the government. Private insurance companies would still exist, and you could still buy insurance from them—and if you didn’t like your coverage or couldn’t afford it, you’d now have the option of buying insurance through the government.

Even if the government insurance option did drive private insurers out of business (I’ll post later on this), you’d still have the option of paying out of pocket for treatments the government opted not to cover. Only if you were BANNED outright from buying health care beyond what the government covered could reform be considered a “government takeover.”

And in fact, when people understand that the public option is government insurance, not government health care, they overwhelmingly support the President’s plan. As Nate Silver points out, most people don’t understand what a “public option” is, but when you explain it clearly as this poll does, asking “Do you support or oppose giving people the option of being covered by a government health insurance plan that would compete with private plans,” 62% support the plan, versus 32% opposed. Defeating health care reform thus DEPENDS on people believing LIES.

That’s strike one.

The other absurdity in the “bureaucrats making health care decisions” argument is that, well, that’s what happens in private insurance too. Your insurance company already makes decisions about what treatments it will and won’t pay for, which is why doctors have to spend up to a third of their time filing paperwork, battling to convince the company bureaucracies to cover your treatments. In fact, the insurance company bureaucracies unnecessarily waste $286 billion PER YEAR.

So extreme are insurance company efforts to ration treatment that they’ll even revoke your coverage after you’ve paid years of premiums, a practice called “rescission.” Reposting from an earlier entry:

This has happened 20,000 times over the past 5 years (at least one company evaluates its employees on savings from rescinded policies). Here’s how it works. When you get a diagnosis that will require expensive treatment, it triggers a processso-called “denial engine” software, to see if you forgot to report any illness on your initial health status questionnaire; if there’s been even one mistake, no matter how small, they revoke coverage from you and your entire family (of course, without refunding all those premiums you paid). You can have your coverage rescinded for something as simple as shortness of breath or hay fever. Health care rationing indeed. by which your insurance company scours your medical records, using

Unsurprising considering the insurance company bureaucrat has a profit motive to provide as little care as possible. Rationing care is how insurance companies make money!

Simply put, the idea that health care decisions are solely between you and your doctor assumes that there are no constraints on your ability to pay. Otherwise it’s not a choice made freely by you and your doctor, but one limited to the treatment options you can afford—you’re consulting your doctor, your own preferences… and your budget.

Arguing against universal coverage on the grounds that it leads to “rationing” is like arguing against food for the homeless because they aren't deciding what food or how much of it the charity gives them. Creating a public option can only give people MORE choices, not fewer.

So my question for reform opponents is: why is it worse for a government bureaucrat to make these calls than an insurance company bureaucrat?


There's no money in selling insurance to sick people: more reasons free markets don't work in health care

The catch-22 for opponents of health care reform

WSJ inadvertently supports case for health care reform: do you want to trust your health to profit and loss?

Are Sarah Palin and Martin Feldstein closet universal health care supporters?

No comments:

Post a Comment