Hmmm.  This should be interesting, if controversial….

No, I haven’t read all 2300 pages of the new healthcare bill.  Then again, I’m pretty sure no one else has, either, which makes me a little squeamish.  Now, some folks are going to be all for it, simply because it’s legislation supported mainly by Democrats; some, of course, will be completely against it for the very same reason.

Is it socialism-in-the-making?  Kind of sounds like it, then again, I didn’t read the whole thing.  In a nutshell, it seems to me that ordering people to make a particular purchase smacks of something a lot less than democracy.  Not to mention levying fines if they don’t comply….

The question, I think, comes down to whether or not everyone “deserves” healthcare and, secondarily, if this should be mandated.

Of course everyone deserves healthcare – all humans are created equal, as per both God and the US Constitution.  Everyone also deserves enough food, clean water, sanitary living conditions, and a host of other things, from simply a humanitarian basis.

I don’t think there’s much question of this premise, as the US has been involved for decades in bringing these things to both lower-income communities and third-world countries.  Perhaps focusing more on the latter to the detriment of the former, but I digress….

First, we need to determine what healthcare consists of – basic or otherwise – and then we need to decide where to draw the line as to who receives it, and when, and how.  And, naturally, who pays for it.

Certainly, children should be vaccinated if their parents choose to do so; certainly they should be treated for various childhood ailments.  Adults, too, need basic care in order to continue providing for those children.  And, it goes without saying, that people should be responsible for their own health – as much as can be predictable and preventable.

For years and years there have been free clinics available to the poor to handle basic medical needs.  The problem, many times, is that one has to jump through hoops in order to receive said services.  And, too, in this day and age, it’s hard to understand why some appear to be so uneducated and so lacking in common sense that they can’t acquire these services.  Internet, yellow pages, information plastered on telephone poles, brochures, TV commercials – c’mon, people, take a little initiative. 

If your kid has a sore throat, take his temperature; give him some Tylenol.  Don’t rush to the ER.  Wait till morning and call one of those clinics – chances are that they’ll tell you the same thing.  If you get a cut or scrape, clean it, bandage it, move on.  Even people who HAVE insurance don’t run to the doctor for every little thing.  I think my kids go maybe twice a year.

So what is this basic care?  I think everyone would agree that antibiotics are a good thing, much of the time, necessary in many cases.  Hello – a LOT of pharmacies already offer FREE antibiotics!  What a concept.  Of course, you must see a doctor to get a prescription – read back two paragraphs.  Sure, some places don’t have these kinds of clinics, but usually the local doc doesn’t charge an arm and leg for his services there, either.

I think, too, we could also agree on what constitutes more than basic healthcare: elective surgeries, cosmetic surgeries, replacement-part surgeries that aren’t necessary to save a life.  The problem, of course, is in who determines this.  Typically it’s those pesky insurance companies (keep reading), but now it appears the Federal government, in its infinite wisdom, is going to handle that.

Let’s start at the first level: doctors.  If a doctor sees an average of 35 patients per day, and charges $100 per visit, he’s grossing $3500 each day or  – wait for it – $875,000 per year.  Sure, he has overhead: employees, office space, equipment, malpractice insurance.  And, yes, he’s spent many years in school in order to get to this point.  I’m not arguing that he doesn’t “deserve” to make this amount of money, but if he charged only half that $100, he’d still be earning well over $400K a year.  Maybe more people could afford to see him.

But wait again – before you jump all over me about how doctors “deserve” this or that or how this is just socialism from a different angle, let’s take a look at that $100 charge.  Guess what?  Not everyone pays this fee. 

But..but…aren’t they getting the same service?  Why yes, they are, thanks for asking.  Some, however, are charged less than $100 and yes, some of those have insurance and pony up a co-pay of, let’s say, $30.  One would assume that the insurance company pays the remainder of $70, but they don’t – typically, they pay around $20.  This means that while one person pays $100, the doctor receives just $50 from another.

Some would argue that it’s all about volume, but remember, a doctor sees an average of 35 patients per day, and this is all about averages.  He can’t see more patients, insurance or not, to make up that “volume discount” that everyone talks about.

What it comes down to is that, while everyone can receive the same services from a doctor, some pay more and some pay less.  You could also argue that the individual with insurance pays just as much because he also pays premiums, deductibles, and co-insurance, but what it comes down to is the word “affordable”.  Those who have insurance usually earn more to begin with, and often have greater cash reserves at the time of service.  And the doctor, the service provider, isn’t seeing a dime of this.

Another thing I keep hearing about is how insurance companies don’t make any money.  Here’s an idea: cut costs.  Like, oh, I don’t know – executive salaries.  Just recently in the news, one company hiked salaries by 50-75%, landing a CEO in the double-digit million bracket.  That’s over $13M, folks.  Instead of making the average person pay 30% of their hard-earned money for premiums, let the executives “suffer” a little with fewer millions to toss around.

So the problem isn’t that some can’t “afford” healthcare, the problem is that healthcare costs a different amount for some people; the problem is that some don’t exercise common sense and opt for less-costly treatment, i.e., a clinic during business hours versus an ER.  The problem is that the insurance companies haul in obscene profits – or would, if they’d show a little restraint in their salary schedules.

And the biggest problem of all is that the government should butt the hell out of trying to legislate how we take care of ourselves.  I, for one, am tired being treated like a moron and having the government hold my hand – apparently it doesn’t think very highly of its citizens’ collective intelligence, because it seems like we need protection from ourselves. 

You remember what George Carlin said about intelligence?  People are stupid, but a person is smart.  In other words, many of us, maybe even the vast majority, can think for ourselves, but the government is pandering to those who cannot.  Kinda like bending over backwards for the minority – in any given situation – to the disadvantage of the majority.  Kinda NOT like a democracy.


One comment on “Healthcare

  1. Greg Spinks says:

    Robin: Excellent, well written and thoughtful post. One of the better I have read. I think most reasonable folks would agree the current system was horribly flawed and most would agree that what is now law is somewhat confusing. No, I haven’t read the entire 2,000 plus pages either but then again who has read social security, medicare, medicaid, even civil rights laws?


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