24 August, 2009

Time to make of fool of myself

Since falling from the roof could affect my health, and I've made fun of some poor choice of vocabulary while discussing health care reform, I might as well comment on that, on a guarantee of universal health care, and on a so-called public option. As usual, I'll fail to be brief.

It might surprise readers to learn that I'm not all that opposed to any of the three. In fact, I'd like to think that a guarantee of universal health care is a good thing, up to a certain point.

I part ways with the usual suspects on this matter in the following ways:

  1. I don't believe that health care is a fundamental human right. This seems to put me at odds with the pronouncements of my Church, and that bothers me, but I'd have to read more of their reasoning before I could say. (Disclaimer: I don't have time to hunt this stuff down and read it, so it won't get done.) I fail to see how health care, which in the modern understanding didn't exist in any form prior to the last handful of centuries, and even over that period has hardly been a monolithic concept, is anywhere on par with expressing one's opinion or following one's conscience. No one except I myself can take away my ability to express my opinion or follow my conscience. However, my health care can be taken away.
  2. Rather, it seems to me that our nation, which already has world-class health care facilities, can afford to bring a minimum of that care to its people, in the same way that our government subsidizes schools public parks, highways, air traffic, mass transit, etc. for the public good. If we're going to subsidize those, the least we can do is subsidize a certain minimum of health care for all.
  3. "Universal coverage" does not mean (to me) that everyone has access to all possible health care treatments. It simply won't happen, even if you ban the private market entirely. In these circumstances, a black market arises. Rather, "universal coverage" means that we guarantee a certain minimum of health care to all that allows for a decent life, and as for the rest: if you can afford the latest, high-end treatments, then go for it. If not, tough luck.
    • Things like fertility treatments don't strike me as a minimum when children need adoption. Nor does contraception. Nor the newest, flashiest drugs when an old one does the job, minus a few minor side effects.
    • On the other hand, vaccinations, antibiotics for common or epidemic illnesses, and surgery for appendicitis are minimums if ever I saw any, and that we should guarantee to all our citizens in a somewhat more organized way than we do already.
  4. But how to implement the affair? This bedevils me the most. I certainly don't want these decisions in the hands of politicians, having seen the gross, partisan disingenuity that goes into updating and/or reforming S-CHIP, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and so forth. That's one reason I like the idea of health care co-ops, assuming that they do, in fact, remain independent of the government. My credit union and my power utility are all co-ops, and they work reasonably well. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were not co-ops, but the federal government was highly invested in them, and seeing what happened there, I'd like Congress to stay as far away from my health insurer as possible, co-op or no.
  5. I won't pretend that guaranteeing universal coverage is any kind of money-saver. I honestly don't know, but I'm not convinced by people who claim that it will save us untold sums of money. To the contrary, the law of supply and demand suggests quite the opposite. I've read repeatedly that costs have only risen in the states that guarantee (or mandate) universal coverage.
  6. A ham-fisted attempt to vilify and punish insurance corporations and seize indirect control of them by centralization and regulation is unbecoming and indecent in a government, let alone an appropriate method to achieve universal coverage. Even worse was the attempt to ram this through Congress on an abbreviated schedule with a minimum of debate, then appeal disingenuously to the need to debate the matter in calm and reasonable terms as things spun out of control.
Alright, I've spoken my mind. Gone and made a fool of myself again. Feel free to elaborate.

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