Thursday, August 27, 2009

Health Insurance Reform | An Exchange with Beetlejuice

I've had an interesting exchange about health care reform with someone called Beetlejuice who responded to my clipping from Garrison Keillor in London a few days ago. See what you think.

Beetlejuice said...
I'm on the right but I'm not paranoid,I just like my health care and insurance the way it is. The liberals want free healthcare for everyone including non-citizens and non-taxpayers,and taxpayers to pay for it for them.If you like socialism, that's cool.We're not paranoid,we just have a different opinion.

jim hancock said...
Beetlejuice, you've misunderstood or been misled about what liberals want in health care. We want affordable world class coverage for every citizen and we're not willing to concede that the US is the only developed nation on the planet incapable of delivering that.

Your willingness to accept second-tier economic status is inscrutable to people like me who refuse to settle for less than the American ideal. I do not like my health care the way it is—it is expensive and restrictive and getting more so every year. My health insurance premiums have risen 59.56% since 2005—my monthly insurance premiums are greater than the take home pay of a full-time minimum wage worker—and my deductible has risen to $5,000.

The US leads the OECD in health care spending measured per capita and as a percentage of GDP. US per capita spending on health insurance and administration is double that of the next ranked OECD nation.

To our shame, the US also leads the OECD in infant mortality measured by the number of children who die before reaching their first birthday.

The US—my nation and yours—lags well below the median for life expectancy among OECD states. In short, we are paying too much money for too little value and I don't think there is anything smart or noble or principled about that.

You are the tiniest bit paranoid. You're afraid thoroughgoing health care reform would inevitably lead to socialism driven by the liberals. But you've misunderstood or been misled about what we want. We want this nation to be as great in every way as we—you and I—say it is.

Beetlejuice said...
I am worried that i will pay much higher taxes AND not have a choice to get my own healthcare. We are a free country after all, Under Obama-care if I drop my current (Blue Sheild) policy with my employer I will automatically be put into the goverment plan. I believe that is page 16 of the Bill. My free choice is to have the healthcare I want, not what the govt wants me to have.Personal freedom is important.

jim hancock said...
Beetlejuice, apparently, you've never experienced the joys of COBRA coverage from an existing carrier and the search for new insurance while the 18-month clock to secure coverage winds down (tck, tck, tck). When I neared the end of my COBRA mandated coverage in 2000, my existing insurer told me they would be happy to continue my policy at a premium of $6,000 per month. I thought health insurance that cost $72,000 a year should probably come with no deductible but that, of course, was not to be.

Page 16 of H.R. 3200, America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 as proposed (I don't know what this Obama-care proposal you refer to is and find no trace of it in the public record) begins with Section 102. Protecting the Choice to Keep Current Coverage and says pretty much exactly the opposite of what you believe or have been led to believe it says.

You can find a certified US Government Printing Office copy of H.R.3200 as a downloadable pdf here.

Not to put too fine a point on it Beetlejuice but under the current regime you have virtually no rights to affordable health insurance coverage whatsoever starting 18 months and one day after you leave your current employer-provided health plan. Without health care reform, if you leave your employer-provided program, your "free choice" of insurers will be determined by what you can afford to pay ($6,000 a month in my case, but your mileage may vary). You might get another 36 months of coverage if you are HIPAA-eligible, but I wouldn't count on it if I were you.

I hope you don't find it disrespectful when I observe that we're living in a broadband world and your language suggests you've gotten most of your information about health care reform from narrowcast sources.

When you made a comment here, I offered a thoughtful response gleaned from a variety of credible, publicly available sources. Your response seems to be repeating something you heard someone say...where? on talk radio? cable tv? at a barbecue? It seems to me that one of us is doing most of the heavy lifting on something that matters a great deal to both of us.

People who lie about health care reform are not protecting democracy and they are not your friends. People who repeat lies without attempting to find out if what they're saying is true are not journalists or intellectuals or patriots, they are gossips and gossips are not to be trusted.

There's an old saying which, at the risk of being offensive, I repeat here in it's original form.

"Eat shit," the saying goes, "50 million horseflies can't be wrong."

Well...yes they can.

jim hancock said...
Oops, I forgot to speak to your concern about paying higher taxes Beetlejuice. You're partly right about that and partly wrong.

Here's a post that explains what I mean.

follow the link to the original source if you want more detail.

Beetlejuice said...
Jim, respectively, healthcare is really not a right,according to the constitution.If I choose to buy insurance on the open market that should be my choice,not Uncle Sam's.Your links and factoids may be valuable in some respects, but the bigger picture is still personal liberty.

jim hancock said...
You're spitting into the wind Beetlejuice. No one is trying to take away whatever right you believe you have to pay as much as the market will bear for as little service as the provider can get away with.

America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 is being shaped to protect that right along with providing a higher standard of care and a greater level of protection for you should your employer lay you off or decide it can no longer afford to contribute to your health plan. As things stand, if that happens, you are SOL.

And then you will have the government-guaranteed right to go to an emergency room when you're so sick you can't put it off any longer and see how that level of care suits you—knowing that taxpayers like me are footing a much higher bill for your care than we would pay if we scaled health care now so that people who want and can afford private health insurance can buy it; and people who don't want or can't afford private health insurance have access to care that keeps them out of the emergency rooms except for emergencies.

I get it. Someone has frightened you with lies and half-truths and has framed this discussion as an assault on your personal convictions so you would sooner lose your home than allow the rest of us the liberty to opt into a different, demonstrably better health care plan.

You're being punk'd, and not in the ha ha, we're all in this together, you're a good sport, let's have a beer way. Those people—the ones who know what they're doing—are not your friends.

I'm glad you think my links and factoids might be useful in some respects. I'm sad you believe people like me want to take away your personal liberty.

Thanks for the polite tone of your comments. We're in this together.


J.P. said...

America, a "christian nation" that waves it's guns and screams in anger over a plan to provide health insurance for every citizen. Is that considered a pre-existing condition?

jim hancock said...

HAH! Only for those afflicted by the gun waving and angry screaming I suppose J.P....but maybe not—maybe they afflict the rest of us too... This begs further reflection...

Beetlejuice said...

Read "Anthem" by Ayn Rand, a short read,she talks about the false security of government run society. Don't be fooled by the supposed compassion in this health plan,again just watch "the law of unintended consequences". Jp-will your employees stay with private insurance or will you dump them into the goverment plan? they'll love that! :)

Beetlejuice said...

BTW-here's p. 16 which states if you don't re-up your private insurance-you have to take the govt plan.

11 (A) IN GENERAL.—Except as provided in
12 this paragraph, the individual health insurance
13 issuer offering such coverage does not enroll
14 any individual in such coverage if the first ef15
fective date of coverage is on or after the first
16 day of Y1.

jim hancock said...

Beetlejuice, I think your characterization of Anthem is one-dimensional. You say Ms. Rand "talks about the false security of government run society." I say she does nothing of the sort.

I could just as easily claim that Anthem is about the tyranny of those who are stuck in the past defending beliefs and behaviors that are no longer adequate (if they ever were) to meet the realities of life well-lived.

I could argue the most telling passage in the book centers on pages 73 and 74:

"This box is useless," said Alliance 6-7349.  

"Should it be what they claim of it," said Harmony 9-2642, "then it would bring ruin to the Department of Candles.”

"And if this should lighten the toil of men," said Similarity 5-0306, "then it is a great evil, for men have no cause to exist save in toiling for other men."  

Then Collective 0-0009 rose and pointed at our box.  

"This thing," they said, "must be destroyed."

US health care is a broken relic, and so is the obsessive fear that a progressive rethinking, retooling and reorganization of how we pay for services is a fateful step on the road to surrendering ego and worshiping the collective.

I worry more about the discredited worship of the unfettered market which has failed us so profoundly in these days.

I am baffled by the notion that everything must be all one thing or all the other. No one on the planet credibly believes in ironclad central planning. And I find it hard to take seriously anyone who believes in no planning at all.

Anthem is a red herring. There are much more serious arguments for and against health care reform than an appeal to the shrine of personal freedom begins to cover.

Beetlejuice said...

I don't agree with your opinion,personal freedom is the most important element that Obamacare lacks.