Monday, August 31, 2009

If You Care To Talk Politics For a Sec...

I have a question for you. Background: I saw a commercial today on TV about bill S391, one relating to preposed health care changes. And the commercial seemed quite biased, alarmist, and unfactual. So, having a few minutes to spare, I thought I'd look the bill up and read it myself. If you'd like to do so, here's a link. Healthy Americans Act.

The bill hopes to require all insurance companies to conform to certain standards deemed acceptable. Minimum care requirements. Also, it hopes to push insurance companies to cover more preventative care, things that detect and stop diseases before they start or early on rather than waiting until someone has a disease and then to cover treatment, which is the way most insurance companies lean now.

Some say the government shouldn't get involved in this debate at all. That it should be worked out in the private sector. That competition between insurance companies should be the only thing dictating how those companies behave. Others say that some regulation is necessary and prudent to make sure Americans a) get an acceptable level of health care and b) to bring down costs in health care that are too high because of a lack of preventative care.

My thoughts are that both things sound reasonable. I do believe in the free market system. And I do believe that in most cases competition does drive companies to improve and meet the desires of their customers. However, there are also cases in history where companies and industries have banded together to create a sort of monopoly situation. Where, with so much combined power, they no longer need to meet the desires of the consumers. But rather take the attitude "We're doing what suits our needs and profits best. What other choice does the consumer have?" And in those circumstances, the government has stepped in and said that they will set some rules, some laws, to protect the American people and keep mega-companies and mega-industries playing fair and keeping true competition in play.

So with that in mind, what do you think? Should the government step in under certain circumstances to set rules and regulations to make private companies function under a true free-market model? Or should they never step in, not even when people's health and well-being (as well as pocketbook) are at stake?

p.s. I'm not coming at this with a "right answer" in mind. I'm seriously open to your thoughts. But please make sure all debating is respectful of one another. Thanks.


Logan said...

I too agree that healthcare has run amuck. I too feel that the government can do something about it. But, I don't feel that the answer lies in forcing insurance companies to assume more risk than they are able or by creating another 'Bureau of Bureaucracy' headed by another 'Bureaucrat of Pen and Paper Pushing.'
We have seen healthcare costs rise dramatically. One of the major causes of this is that the costs for doctors have increased. Ignoring his student loans, one of the highest expenses a doctor faces is malpractice insurance - which has also been on the rise for quite some time because people have started suing other people for millions of dollars over hot coffee.
One of the problems I see with this bill is that it does not address Tort Reform - which would put a cap on the amount of money a person could collect from a single doctor if/when a mishap occurs. Lawyers also collect 30% of any money their client collects - so everyone loses (except the lawyer of course).
Proper Tort reform would decrease the costs of malpractice insurance, which would reduce doctor's expenses, which would reduce the costs of overall healthcare. Of course, forcing lawyers to collect anything less than 30% on a case would be highway robbery, so don't expect to see any changes there.
(Please don't sue me)

M-Cat said...

As one in the health care industry, I agree with Logan and want to add.

Yes, we absolutley need some reform done. Malpractice insurance and tort reform as Logan addressed, but also the pharmaceutical companies are driving health care costs. The cost of medications is outrageous and much of it has to do with the FDA (government) standards and practices when releasing new medications and patent laws.

The worst thing to happen would be a government run program. Medicare and Medicaid are already broken (government run) so how can one reasonably deduce that they will do any better with yet another program?

I am a lucky one with good health insurance and am rewarded with lower costs by living (proving) that I am living a healthy lifestyle.

Yes, healthcare needs some fixing, but I don't believe the current bill as it is written (and by whom - but that's a whole other story) is the correct answer.

Chelsea said...

I ABSOLUTELY believe that government needs to step in. I'm as big a fan of the free market as anyone can be, but I don't believe it is working when it comes to our healthcare in the US. Simple numbers are enough to convince me of that - we consistently rank lower in quality of care than countries that have government involvement in healthcare.

IMO the fact that a hardworking person in the US can make enough money to be well over poverty level, but still not be able to afford even the most basic preventive care is shameful.

tiburon said...

I think this is one thing the government needs to keep its nose out of. I am all for welfare/Medicaid/Medicare reform - but I draw the line at a government funded healthcare program. I don't care what they say, they will eventually drive private insurance companies out of business.

As a parent of a child with a chronic condition I have a HUGE issue with the government telling ME what doctors/treatment options/medications that I can choose for my child.

Yes, I am aware that currently an insurance company gives me guidelines - but I have the CHOICE to use that insurance company and I am presented with several options and I can choose the one that best fits my family.

The government has already proven that it can't run Medicare or Medicaid or Welfare or social security effectively. Why the crap would I want them in charge of another aspect of my life?

I also have a HUGE issue with this whole "health care is a right" thing. IT ISN'T. People are forgetting the principles that this country was founded on. We have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We were NEVER guaranteed that the government would provide us with shelter, clothing or health care. We have the right to work hard and provide those things for ourselves - but they aren't guaranteed.

Too many people in the United States have an entitlement mentality and believe that they are ENTITLED to everything they DESIRE. The only thing they are ENTITLED to is the opportunity to go out and get it themselves.

Nevermind the fact that this government has put us more in debt than we will ever pay off in our lifetime. So how are they planning on funding this program?!

I say - work on the programs that are already in place - and sucking money from taxpayers. Don't create another black hole for my tax money.

jennie w. said...

Being self-employed at various times in our lives we've had periods where we either couldn't get health insurance or have had to get the only insurance that was available--Horrible coverage that cost more than our car payments put together. It's a terrifying feeling being one accident away from financial devistation. But that's how it goes for many small business owners.

The insurance and health industry is twisted and broken. It's a complete fiasco.

I hate the thought of government running anything, because they tend to be a bunch of bureaucratic morons, but so are the people running the health care industry.

I just have such a huge problem with health care being just plain unavailable to hard-working tax-paying citizens like us. I'm going to have to go with government health care. maybe not as it's written right now, but eventually.

Shawn said...

I just think that they need to take some more time and stop trying to pressure congress into passing something that doesn't have the kinks worked out! I definitely don't trust the government to be in charge of health care---even though it is so screwed up as it is----but there has to be a better way to do it.

Where are the different ideas? Why are there not more ways to get the health care in line?

Omgirl said...

A few of you (I won't name names, Jennie and Tib) are referring to a completely different bill. The one I'm referring to has nothing to do with a government run health plan. This one is only referring to creating government guidelines for the current PRIVATE health care plans, requiring them to conform to certain standards of care. So I'd love to hear your comments on that, if you have them.

After I read the next bill, on government health plans, I'll do a post on that...maybe.

tiburon said...

My bad.

See I read "government" and "health care" and I get blind. With rage.

Anonymous said...

I think the question that needs to be asked before this one ("Should gov't get involved?") is whether government is qualified to get involved. Most of us would prefer to go to a licensed doctor who has been through school and residency and knows what he/she is doing. Who's to say a bunch of politicians know anything about the insurance, medical practice, etc.? Most of what they know is $$$$ which comes from lobbyists who have lots of $$$$ to spend and have only their own interests in mind.