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Health care reformers have it backwards

Just when you thought government couldn’t apply less common sense to anything they do, they go out and shock the world again with the Baucus bill. This bill is tough for liberals to defend as the problems it will create will outweigh the benefits it’s supposed to bring.

The first point that needs to be noted about health care in this country is that, although there is massive waste and inefficiency, I believe that the health care as provided in this country is amongst the best in the world. The problem with health care is not the quality but the high costs that are constantly rising. The top goal of reformers should be to make health care more accessible and affordable for working Americans. Unfortunately, the Baucus bill will do anything but make health care affordable.

The problem I want to examine is that it mandates that everyone must purchase health care coverage starting in 2013. But what about those who cannot or do not want to pay for the insurance? Under the current proposal, they will be fined between $750 per person and up to $1,500 per family, for those below the poverty line and $950 per person to $3,800 per family for those with incomes three times the poverty level on an annual basis, according to a Heritage Foundation report.

Why does this matter? Well, the consequences should be obvious. If insurance is going to be compulsory, companies are going to have to provide coverage to all Americans, regardless of pre-existing conditions. Everyone who is sick and does not have coverage will jump into the system. However, insurance companies only profit when clients don’t require more money from the company then they are paying in premiums. In the best case for insurers, they collect premiums and don’t actually need to provide anything for clients. Insurers will not be making money off of the people who will immediately require care when this plan is implemented. So what do you think the insurers will do when they start losing money? Raise premiums, making expensive health care even more so.

Scott Serota, CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield, said in an interview with Neil Cavuto on Friday that his company projects that health care premiums could, “go up over a five-year period as much as 50 percent.” His issue with the system is a simple one. If people who are young and healthy can avoid getting health care coverage by paying a fine, they will. When they actually become sick and need care they will get it at the same price as everyone else because insurers will be unable to deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions. If nobody is forced to pay into the system, the only people who will pay in are those who need care. Those who need care will be hurting the balance sheets of insurers because they will be requiring insurers to pay for their care. All insurers will be doing in this system is losing money unless they massively raise their premiums, which is inevitable. 

The primary change to the system under this bill will be to make health care even more unaffordable.

This should be obvious to any smart and fair-minded individual. I am willing to speculate that it is also obvious to President Barack Obama that insurers will have to raise their premiums by ridiculous amounts if this bill is passed, making health care provided by private insurers unaffordable. I think it is possible that Obama, Pelosi and Reid are trying to drive these companies out of business to justify government-controlled health care. There is no other explanation for such an ill-advised bill being considered by our government despite the warnings of anyone who is applying common sense and reason.

The goal of the bill should be to make health insurance more affordable to all Americans. Those who argue that the goal of reform should be to make sure every American is covered needs to re-examine their position. They have to understand that if health care is made more affordable, then more of the uninsured will be able to acquire coverage, thereby killing two birds with one stone: more people insured and more affordable coverage for everyone.

There are market-based solutions that can help solve the problems of health care affordability without overhauling the whole system, which, under the current proposal will lead us down a path to socialized health care. Everyone agrees there are massive inefficiencies in the current system and everyone knows the U.S. already spends the most money per capita in the world on health care. The system we have needs to be made more efficient, not overhauled. A race to socialized health care is the last change this country needs right now.

Alex Perry is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at amperry@student.umass.edu.

Comments
5 Responses to “Health care reformers have it backwards”
  1. Robert Davis says:

    You almost did it. Sure there were a few mishaps in the opening paragraphs, but for the most part you had a factual, thoughtful, explorative article. You offered some ideas, gave reasoning behind the ideas, and backed up your reasoning with quotes. Most importantly, you left out any pointed language or rhetoric, and left room for open discourse and communication.

    And then you slipped:
    “This should be obvious to any smart and fair-minded individual. I am willing to speculate that it is also obvious to President Barack Obama that insurers will have to raise their premiums by ridiculous amounts if this bill is passed, making health care provided by private insurers unaffordable.”

    Let’s stop here for now. This “Baucus” bill has made it through the finance committee, and only the finance committee. It is not Obama’s plan, and even many Democrates don’t agree with everything it entails. There’s no reason to blame Obama for a bill he has little to do with until the final measure arrives on his desk. Once he signs a bill, then feel free to blame him (if he doesn’t have a good reason, which would of course be subject to debate).

    Following this you go into something I’ve noticed in many of your articles, and which you had kept at a minimum thus far in this one. You make a statement of your own personal belief, and then use this “plausible statement” as proof of another “plausible statement”. For you these statements are the following:

    “I think it is possible that Obama, Pelosi and Reid are trying to drive these companies out of business to justify government-controlled health care. There is no other explanation for such an ill-advised bill being considered by our government despite the warnings of anyone who is applying common sense and reason.”

    Really? There is absolutely no other explanation? Did you bother looking for one, or going to the people who support this bill and asked how it might work? I am sure some educated people do support many of the ideas in this bill, and have good reasoning to support it. Or is it that no one has an explanation which you agree with? This is not the same as there being no explanations. You need to stop writing this fantasy of your “what if’s” becoming reality, simply because you decide it is so.

    You make a similar misstep in the second paragraph of the article, but it is more isolated, and alone wasn’t a big deal, easily glossed over. You write, “I believe that the health care as provided in this country is amongst the best in the world. The problem with health care is not the quality but the high costs that are constantly rising.” What you belief doesn’t counterbalance the scientific and social studied which prove that in fact, we aren’t the best. You are free to have this belief, but it doesn’t mean anything. If I decide to write how I believe Americans are the happiest people in the world, does that make it so? As for separating the quality from the quantity, that’s not possible. What does it matter if our actual care is the best if a very large number of citizens can’t enjoy this care.

    In the second to last paragraph you claim that everyone shouldn’t have to have insurance, and instead insurance should be made affordable to all. This, you say, is the problem with those who disagree with you. I think you’re in agreement. There is little difference between what you and they say. You both agree with the same principle that everyone should be able to afford healthcare. As you have shown in this article, the how of making this happen is difficult, because there are many barriers in place on both sides. People can be just as fickle and greedy as large corporations. Are the plans being put forth very good? Not the ones I’ve seen. The main problem seems to be partisan diatribes. Anything one side puts up, the other side has to shut down. Words and phrases such as socialist, communist, elitist, only caring for the rich, and a plethora of others are bandied as arguments and the public to get people angry and terrified about many problems which may or may not exist, instead of actually working out a good plan. Another problem is the lobbying, and the power they wield on Capital Hill.

    Which brings us to your conclusion. Do you absolutely need to bring up socialism in every single article you write? Are you that scared, and truly believe that Obama and his libral army is going to turn this country into a socialist regime? You were doing so well until this point, and keeping the partisan rhetoric and attacks to a minimum, and then you finally let it out in the very end. It was disappointing.

    Still in your conclusion, you recap your difference in position by saying that the system doesn’t need to be overhauled, but instead needs to more efficient. Isn’t that the same thing? “More efficient” could mean anything, it could mean anything. What if the only way to fix health care to be more efficient is overhaul. What if the problems are in the most basic level of our system. I honestly don’t know, and from what you’re written I can only assume that neither do you, or you’d have said so. In essence you aren’t offering an opinion at all, but an open ended ideal which just signifies “I disagree with them”. No one needs this. As much as you fight it, I can’t help but feel that you more or less agree with the desires of many Democrates and Republicans, but like those who make are laws, are trapped in this partisan bickering which requires that you disagree no matter what the cost.

    Anyways, I still think this article was a vast improvement from your previous works. For the most part it was a smart article and you had a lot of helpful information to impart. I hope you continue this with less of the rest in your next piece.

  2. Zack says:

    @Robert Davis,

    Once again we are faced by the tired argument about how bad the U.S. health care system is compared to the rest of the industrialized world. You say to look at the facts and scientific studies, yet you blindly accept these numbers with no context behind them. The quality of healthcare in the U.S. is without a doubt the best in the world, and all of these other “superior” countries continue to benefit from the amazing medical advances that the U.S. makes every single day. It is well known that many other countries omit specific cases from statistics ranging from infant mortality to cancer survival rates. Those countries have chosen to present the statistics differently than the U.S. for the sole purpose of ranking higher on a sheet of paper.
    There are countless arguments about the superiority of the U.S. health care quality, but I doubt they will change your opinion on the matter. Instead of being hung up on what is essentially a liberal talking point we should discuss the areas of our health care system that do need to be reformed, just as Perry does above. We need market based solutions, and there are many available, including allowing companies to compete across state lines, tort reform, savings funds, and an entire change in the way that health costs are presented to american citizens. It is time once again to usher in an era of SELF-RESPONSIBILITY, which is certainly a trait that our nation has been lacking since President Reagan left office. To quote our former President, “as government expands, liberty contracts.” Perfectly said, as the last thing we need is more dependency on government programs and less personal responsibility and freedom.

  3. Robert Davis says:

    I don’t see where we disagree? I already said that our maximum ability to help and heal is among the best if not the best. The problem isn’t what we are capable of, it is what, as Perry writes later in the article, what people can afford. Having the best is worthless to the millions of American citizens who can’t afford this top of the line care. That is what the statistics are referring to. Not that the United States lags behind in medical research or sophistication in technology or procedures.

    As for this point, I will concede that it could be viewed as a question of semantics, and not the most important point of the subject. This is partially why I only spent one short paragraph on the matter in refference to a similar point made.

  4. Zack says:

    My underlying point would be that without our current profit driven system there would not be the amazing medical advances, and thus the quality of care world-wide would decrease.

  5. Scott Harris says:

    Wow.

    I’m stunned.

    I would type out a detailed explaination of just how backward this editorial is, but my guess is that if the base above which your case against the reform bills is built from Heritage Foundation reports and out-of-context quotes from insurance company executives, there isn’t much grace to save here.

    S.P. can give you my e-mail if you’re interested in examining this issue in a more accurate light, Alex.

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