Monday, December 31, 2007

Affordable Health Care

I've been going through the Divided We Fail site's list of candidate statements on where they stand on the various issues of affordable health care. This is an interesting site: nobody called the candidates and asked them questions. It's excerpts from their web site articles and speeches that relate to the Divided We Fail issues. You have to give AARP credit for a lot of research to dig all that out and post it, with links.

I notice a certain lack of detail on the "how" in all these fine statements. Everybody says that health care will be "affordable", and no one will be able to refuse you for a pre-existing condition. (They're not dumb, they know what the issues are.) What I don't see is how the candidates expect to compel the existing health insurance industry to sell health care insurance policies if they don't think they can make a profit on them. You can make laws and rules that say, if you're going to sell health insurance policies, they have to meet these criteria; but what happens when all the major vendors say, we can't make any money at that, we withdraw from that market. They've done it before: there are areas in the hurricane belt where certain insurance companies won't sell homeowners' insurance any more. They're not really interested in "insurance" as it was originally developed; they only want to play the game if the dice are loaded so they can always win. The only way to do this is to take profit out of the medical game altogether and run it as a subsidized public service.

The only one who comes right out and says, we're going to have universal publicly financed health care, is Dennis Kucinich; and he may be a fine man but he has about as much chance of winning this election as he has of being elected Pope. John Edwards at least admits that "the health system could evolve into a single-payer plan."
Single-payer is ultimately the way we have to go; otherwise we can't get away from the insurance companies trying to squeeze out every last premium without ever paying out on a claim.


  1. Anonymous6:16 AM

    I have to agree, hedera. Our little band have come to the consensus that Edwards is the best choice among the electables, although I see Kucinich, with whom I most closely agree on the issues, is backing Obama.

    Anonymous David

  2. I think you are right - the profit needs to be out - but then how does one change from a system where there is profit and all of those profits are funneled into campaign contributions?

    I think the system is broken - but not bad enough to force the kind of radical change necessary to get to where we need to be.

    (It is interesting just how unethical insurance companies have been over the years - reading contracts law is like reading a rogues gallery of evil, one insurance company after another - I swear half of the contracts law or more in existence was created in direct response to evil practices of insurance companies).

  3. Anonymous9:31 AM

    Interesting commentary on Edwards (scroll down to picture of Edwards).

    Anonymous David

  4. Thanks for the link, David - I actually found the article on Obama as interesting as the stuff on Edwards. As a matter of fact, there's a lot of populist in me that finds Edwards' message and approach very appealing - I just don't think he has a chance to win, and damn, I'm tired of voting for the right guy and seeing the wrong guy take the office. We'll see what comes out of the caucuses tonight, and New Hampshire.

  5. Anonymous8:08 AM

    I agree, hedera. I do think, however, that Edwards might actually have the best chance in the general election, and that maybe an Edwards/Richardson ticket might be the strongest, although I hate losing the energy Obama generates among the under-30 crowd. In a way, what we might be missing on the Democratic side is a single candidate who captures all the strengths of the various Democratic candidates, anyone of whom would make a good president (except for Gravel in his current incarnation).

    And Hillary's negatives are unfortunate, especially since she is so well qualified and does have a worthy history. But she is now too tied to the Democratic Washington insiders, who failed us miserably post-9/11.

    Anonymous David

  6. Anonymous8:16 AM

    Interesting "From the Trenches" commentary on Obama over at Talking Points Memo, hedera:

  7. The Jeff Zeleny post about the rural voters, and the guy who changed from Clinton to Obama because the Clinton people were running Obama down and the Obama people were just positive? That's very interesting.

  8. I'm generally a libertarian, but I've come to support universal health care. We're one of the wealthiest societies on earth, and I ask myself - what should this wealth be for? To me, fair health treatment for all Americans makes sense.

    Will it be cheaper - no. I see no reason to believe that governments can do anything more efficiently than the private sector. We'll simply replace insurance company bureaucrats with even more government bureaucrats.

    Will it be "better health care?" No. Without the profit motive, there will be no incentive to innovate and develop new treatments.

    Will it be fairer? Yes, and to me that is the primary concern. A caring society should provide standard, adequate health care for everyone, regardless of ability to pay.

  9. None of the 6/8 candidates currently "in the running" excite me enough to want to go to the polls. Even Edwards--in whom I recognize the unmistakable aura of the ambulance chaser--with his support for the middle class at the expense of the corporations--seems lackluster and glib.

    I believe that both the general public and the medical providers have been eating at the trough way too long. It'll take years before we can even begin to work out the kinks in health care. In the meantime, we might get 10 years of national health coverage until it, too, falls apart. The European and Canadian systems seem to limp along with NHC, but no one I've ever talked to in those countries is happy with it.

    The best relationships I've had with doctors have involved direct cash payment up front. They don't lie to me, and they recommend the tests and treatments they believe in, rather than what they think will "play" at the insurance claim office. Obviously, when (and if) I get a catastrophic illness, all that goes out the window, and I'm at the mercy. Four years ago I passed a kidney stone, spent two hours in emergency at Alta Bates and was given nothing but a shot of morphine, one gut-scan, and some few minutes on a gurney. For which (drumroll), I was charged over $4000. As I left, the medic came up to me and suggested that I drink a lot of water and jump up and down. Now that's expensive advice if I ever heard it!