“If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it!”
Who hasn’t heard this quote? But how does this apply to a healthcare system that isn’t quite broken, but maybe just slightly fractured?
We may all agree that the healthcare system of the United States isn’t perfect. There are gaps and loopholes which have been exploited on both sides of the spectrum. The health insurance agencies have consistently found ways to drop an individual’s coverage if they become to high risk (or simply raise the premiums to an unreasonably high level). On the other side, there have always been those who have simply gone to the ER for a simple head cold because they can not be refused treatment by law and then simply refuse to pay any of their incurred costs because their credit is already ruined and another hit simply doesn’t matter.
Let me first start by saying refusing care and treatment to those who are in need is an absolute atrocity. One should be guaranteed care regardless of their income, social status or current medical condition. It is one of the perks of being born into a 1st world nation. I believe, truly believe, that we as Americans are very kind hearted and my faith in us remains unshaken.
That being said, I do not believe the current healthcare reform act will be the right pathway to take in assuring this goal. I believe that the system as it is written depends way too heavily on the volunteering of “healthy young people” to sign up for insurance who simply have no good reason to do so.
Why not? Well for a few reasons mainly because young people are invincible (at least they, for the most part, have convinced themselves they are) but also because the current law allows them to be grandfathered on their parents plans u til now the ripe age of 25 (not as invincible but they still won’t admit it yet) and lastly because they simply don’t think that far ahead. You were young once, think back… Try hard… What priority was healthcare for you at 25 versus say.. Pizza every week? I believe that one is rhetorical.
So, in other words, the only people who will be signing up will be the ones who need (AND USE) the insurance a LOT. What does this mean? Well, let’s break it down in the simplest concept:
Aunt Judy is overweight. She is 50 years old, diabetic, and a cancer survivor who STILL SMOKES. Her family also has a loonnnnng history of heart disease. Cousin Billy is 25, just graduated college, and is living at home in mom’s basement saying “it’s just too hard to find a job” (let’s address that part of his story on another day shall we). Billy does do a bit of cardio (he says its more realistic when he rides the stationary bike while he plays Madden which is at least two hours a day when he’s not playing GTA V.
Now, Aunt Judy was first in line for the new healthcare reform voting booth and was more than happy to spend 7 hours of her Saturday on the phone to get a bronze plan she otherwise would have been rejected for. Billy doesn’t vote (“what’s the point man, the government is all bought and paid for anyway”) and with his daily cardio and tri-weekly dumbells is in relatively fantastic shape. He doesn’t do anything risky and if he gets the flu it only lasts about four hours while he drinks his OJ and plays his video games and blam! He’s over it.
Now, the money people like Cousin Billy who don’t get sick or hurt would put into the system would immediately turn around and fund the constant care needed for Aunt Judy especially when she decides “it’s okay if I have a bag of Oreos tonight, ill just put less sugar in my sweet tea tomorrow”. But what if there is only one Billy for every Ten Judys (I’m being very generous with those numbers)? Well simple economics tells you my friends that that is unsustainable.
So what do we do? Well, first, the government will be “forced” to increase the penalty (tax?) for those who do not buy into the system. Just those who have no healthcare at first, then they will find a way to penalize (tax) those who buy in only to private insurance because it isn’t “feeding the beast” as much as if they were buying the government backed plans. This means EVERYONE MUST buy a plan or pay the same in penalties if they don’t so they might as well.
There’s a catch to this. The ones who wouldn’t have bought a plan now will, but they also will say “I have it, might as well use it”. And when Billy finds out that he can get some pain meds for his carpal tunnel from all his gaming and Facebook time, guess who you’re gonna see having a doctor’s appointment once a month. This means an influx of patients in an already overly abused and overcrowded medical facility.
What happens next? Well, the system begins to implode. It may take the average person weeks to see a doctor for their flu symptoms. Surgery will be back logged and emergency surgeries will be the only ones scheduled in under two months. Doctors and physicians will be stretched then, overworked, and frustrated taking bedside manner to extinction. Many doctors will refuse to take patients on the government plans due to overcrowding and will be penalized passing those penalties on to the patients. Premiums will rise and rise again and home remedies sales will soar (find a stock you like and buy now!).
What’s the short of it? The current system, while noble in cause, is fatally flawed. What will end up happening is one of two things:
1) the system will be scrapped and redesigned utilizing tax credits for pharmaceutical companies and doctors and hospitals alike who are willing to take on “pro-bono” patients with existing conditions or
2) we will shift to the dreaded (and proven to be inefficient) single payer system. This, my friends, appears to be the current goal and is frightening. Let me just tell you that giving the government complete control of your health is and always will be a fatal mistake whether it is a republican, democrat, or literal donkey and elephant running the government. The results will be the same and there WILL be an iceberg waiting for each and every elderly person at the end.
We need healthcare reform. We need it badly. But “you catch more flies with sugar than you do honey” and punishing our citizens and forcing them to participate is not the way to go. Rewarding them and allowing the free market and capitalistic nature of the industry to be rewarded will allow for the system to right itself. Trust me on this people: allow there to be profit in saving people’s lives and you will find doctors and drug companies lining up at the gates.
It is time we start awarding people for being selfless instead of assuming they are selfish. The best part about this proposed system: it costs nothing if I am wrong.