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Universal coverage is bad – Part Two

Yesterday I listed the top ten reasons some folks don’t like/hate/abhor/denigrate/snipe at universal coverage (that’s requiring everyone to have health insurance).
The rest of this week will be devoted to addressing the ‘UC is bad” arguments.
Covering the uninsured will cost about a hundred billion dollars.
And away we go!

Reason One is ‘We can’t afford it.’
There are two responses to this argument. First, it’s not a question of affordability, it is a question of priorities. As noted here earlier, our leaders chose to invade another country, a choice that has required funding several times higher than the cost of covering the currently-uninsured. So we’ve got the bucks. We just choose to spend them on other things, or to not spend them at all (by lowering taxes or socking away revenues for a rainy day).
But we really don’t have to spend much more than we are today. We’re already paying for health care for the uninsured. Cost-shifting ensures that a portion of the costs of treating the uninsured ends up on the bills of those who have insurance. Federal law requires hospitals to treat everyone, regardless of insurance status, who presents with an emergent health situation.
I would argue that this is really a system of hidden taxes that drives up costs for employers and providers, while providing poor care and thus a lousy return on that investment.
So the net is we are already paying for health care for the uninsured, and any additional funding is a matter of choice, not possibility.

7 thoughts on “Universal coverage is bad – Part Two”

  1. The issue is not that the cost of socialized medicine is already borne in the economy. The issue is that socialism has produced catastrophic failures in every country in which it has been tried. Already the US has 52% of its population on some form of government subsidy. The move to “universal healthcare” would plunge our Country into full-on socialism. Already the impact of SOX has begun destroying our equity markets, driven IPO’s to Europe and sent the dollar plunging. How much of this do you need to see? Sadly, already it is probably too late to save what was left of our capitalistic democracy.

  2. Brent, it is important to note that universal healthcare is not tantamount, or even related, to socialized medicine. Universal healthcare mandates the purchase of health insurance (though some democratic presidential candidates, such as Barack Obama, claim that they support universal coverage but don’t even plan to issue universal mandates). In and of itself, universal healthcare does nothing to change the system by which healthcare is delivered, it simply requires (and in some cases, helps) citizens to purchase health insurance. While universal coverage is often accompanied by reform measures aimed at controlling rising healthcare charges, these measures rarely bear signs of socialized medicine.
    I respect your apprehension, but feel that it is misplaced–at a basic level, universal healthcare is not aimed at changing the system or giving the government control over healthcare, but at making healthcare available to those unable to afford it.

  3. This is probably fiscal policy ignorance speaking, but is a weakening dollar really due more to SOX than to our ridiculous federal debt?
    Also, because of EMTALA we already have socialist medicine in a sense. It’s just even more poorly run and inefficient than the greater healthcare system, and that’s saying something.

  4. I appreciate the thoughtful response. We know that, as you put it, “making healthcare more available to those unable to afford it”, is a nice way of saying that with increased taxation the government can offer subsidies to the “poor”. Although it is popular today to claim that our healthcare system is in crisis, the truth is that it is by far the best in the world, has been the source of most innovation and provides healthcare to everyone. Physicians simply do not refuse to care for people.
    Our healthcare system has been taxed unreasonably by open borders and the resulting explosion in demand for free healthcare. These are logical people fleeing repressed countries and company to a land that gives them free healthcare and jobs. However, our Country can simply no longer welcome millions of the world’s poor each year.
    The “healthcare crisis” is a creation of the press and the liberal left. No thinking American would ever follow Moore’s advice to go to Cuba for good healthcare, nor in fact would Moore.
    It is easy to trace the origins of our loss of work ethic and respect for authority to the advent of social reforms. People are not fools. Given the chance to live off the government, ignore the need for education and avoid the 65 hour weeks required to “get ahead”, our youth have chosen to not study hard and go to work. I volunteer taught at the high school level while also working, and can attest to the nightmare that passes for public education. The open borders, in addition to overloading our healthcare system, have also destroyed our public education system in many states.

  5. Brent–
    There are a number of elements in your post that I am tempted to respond to, but I doubt that anything I say will change your perspective on this matter. As I feel that under certain circumstances internet debates can be counterproductive, I am choosing to use this as an opportunity to articulate my own thoughts, rather than to influence yours.
    As one of the “youth” of which you speak (if 22 years can be considered “youth”) and having just graduated from one of the most rigorous liberal arts schools in the nation, I must admit that I bristle slightly at your claim that young people are not willing to study and work hard.
    I have spent the summer studying the American healthcare system in as much depth as possible, and as an uninsured citizen of the United States who works full time but literally cannot afford health insurance in addition to my student loans and rent (and still manage to feed myself), I feel a degree of frustration at your claim that there is no healthcare crisis. As a young woman, I would love to live in a world where I could go to the doctor (and pay for it out of my own pocket, if need be) for a check-up without fear that if there were something wrong with me, I would never be able to get health insurance. while anecdotal, the very fact that I am more afraid of not being able to afford treatment than of having an illness itself tells me that the system is in crisis. I consider myself a hard-working, productive member of society. I am excited to work in a capacity that influences the country in a positive manner. I have had more opportunities than most to do so. However, the fact remains that if I were diagnosed with a brain tumor tomorrow, my family would likely go bankrupt trying to get me the care I needed. And yes, that unsettles me, and yes, I feel that the system in which millions of dollars are wasted while thousands die each year because they cannot afford health insurance warrants a second glance.

  6. I am a woman nearly twice the age of ERM and am in a similar situation as ERM (and oh by the way, its not the first time in my life I find myself in this position) i.e. I may lose my healthcare coverage any day. I currently have healthcare coverage, but based on the decisions I make that are designed to improve my life, I may find myself without insurance. I have started a new business, coming up on its one year anniversary. I currently have insurance through my husband’s employer. But if he decides to leave his job so that we can continue to grow our business, we will be without healthcare and are not sure when we might be able to afford it. I wonder why Brent Miller had no response to ERMs post?

  7. We have seen that the private healthcare does not work well and the government run healthcare system has also failed in many countries that tried it. Private health insurance companies are unfair to sick people – sometimes people get disqualified because they have one of the million sicknesses listed in the pre-approval applications and those companies try to give insurance to healthier individuals because healthy individual = less doctor visits, less medications and less drug coverage = more profits for private health industry.
    I think what we need is cooperation between government and private insurance companies. I do not believe it is right to list million health preconditions as a qualification test for applicants and deny them healthcare. This is unfair and barbaric! Can you believe in 20th century America we can disqualify an American citizen from healthcare coverage because 5 years ago they had an emergency doctors visit? That’s where the government should step in and redefine all rules for private healthcare companies. These companies should not be able to easily disqualify families for coverage and if they want to stay in the game they have to actively work with the people, not just push them away.
    So the problem is obvious: get rid of health industry lobbyists and drug company lobbyists and start listening to the people, it’s time to start addressing the average people’s needs. Until the lobbyists will have money, power and say, we will have this problem follow us in future as a shadow from dark past.

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Joe Paduda is the principal of Health Strategy Associates




A national consulting firm specializing in managed care for workers’ compensation, group health and auto, and health care cost containment. We serve insurers, employers and health care providers.



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