Why Government Run Health Care is Important (article 2 of 3)

Forgive the Crab.  I am having trouble staying on one topic.  So please forgive the wanderings of the blog:

I admit, I am not an economist (though took my share of courses in college) or a health care professional (though my wife is a psychologist), or anything else that qualifies me to talk with authority on the subject of health care.  What I am, though, is a Liberal.  Despite the connotations derived by the Right, it doesn’t mean I am a Nazi or a Socialist.   In the most typical context for a majority of us in this country, it means personal freedom and the need for social injustices to be fixed.

Contrary to myth, it does not mean limiting Capitalism, creating social programs for all people, or taking from the rich and giving to the poor (or simply taking from everyone).  Understanding those truths and accepting them, may give Conservatives an understanding of why I (we) feel health care reform is important and why the Government solution is the right choice.

A friend of mine made the point – “health care is a right, not a privilege” and broken down into that simple phrase, sums up the biggest problem with health care today.  There are over 46 million people (and growing) that health care is, in fact, a privilege and one they are not granted a right. In our society, that’s a tragedy. It’s an embarrassment.  And, it’s very very sad.  In response back to my friend’s simple but accurate summation of the problem, I stated that I have *never* met anyone who either has been severely sick or without insurance that doesn’t believe the system is fine and aren’t supporting what the President is trying to accomplish.

That’s very telling.  Those who have actually lived through the costs and/or the lack of insurance see a problem.  The people that are opposed are those with health insurance or have never had a serious illness.  I know there are exceptions – there are 300 million Americans in this country and people can always provide a contrary view.  But, going on sampling – it’s still a strong indicator.

To deny what some of us have to others is selfish at it’s best and cruel at it’s worst.  Health care needs to be reformed in this Country to guarantee every single American is covered.    Those who will not even accept that point, should simply be ignored.  They can’t be rationalized with and they care not about the wellness of our society as a whole.   Unfortunately, in the debates I’ve had over the years, I’ve actually met several that have admitted as much.

To those who say, ‘yes – we have a problem, but Government is not the solution’ – then the question should be asked, what is your solution?  Very rarely will you get a succinct response when you ask them what is their alternative solution.

Here’s the secret – there isn’t one.  Government is the solution and that’s something they cannot accept or admit, particularly if it falls away from their ideology.  Health care and insurance, depending how you measure it, is the Country’s biggest industry.  To change that industry without Government intervention is impossible.  The Government must be involved.  Whether it’s through regulation or involvement, Government must play a role.

Regulation alone is not going to radically change health care/insurance.  The industry is simply too complex to cover everything required to bring costs in line and ensure everyone has coverage.  Too many loop holes exist to ensure policy changes work.  Further, lobbying on the Hill will weaken any policies that come up for a vote.

“Heath care is a right – not a privilege”.  If that is a truth, then the Government needs to do everything in their power to ensure that guarantee for everyone.  This is not one of a thousand other social programs that might be more of a privilege than a right.  The US Government is the richest and biggest company in the World.  To really affect change in the health care industry, money and competition must be prevalent.  Money will  put the Government on the same foothold has the Cignas, Aetnas, and Blue Crosses.  From there, the Government (as competition) can set rules to allow everyone to be covered – all 46 million Americans.  In addition, those who are being squeezed by increasing premiums and larger deductibles through private insurance will have an opportunity to be with a health care program that doesn’t increase premiums to meet profit goals, rather premiums will increase with inflation.

By allowing the Government to enter and covering 46 million Americans, they become the biggest health care company in the Country.  They will be able to facilitate setting prices, reducing costs through economies of scale, and be the biggest buyer of health care (which has many benefits – such as oversight, setting expected service levels, etc.).

Those opposed to Government getting involved in health care claim that it’s too expensive for the Government and the Government is not good at running anything.  Yes, Government run health care will be an additional burden, in the short-term, to the the tax payers.  But, are we a compassionate society that believes everyone should have health care or not?  I was brought up believing in helping others.  If it costs me another $500 of my income to pay into this new system and it says just one child’s life, then it’s worth it.  The truth is, the cost wouldn’t be that high and it would be less to those making less.  Again, how can you say that isn’t worth it?  In addition, after several years of a Government run health care program, cost savings will be seen throughout the economy (and thus a recoupment of initial outlays).  Cost savings will be  seen in slower rising premiums and smaller out of pocket costs.

Another argument, from those opposing the Government entering as player in health care, is that private industry can run things more efficiently than the Government.  Even if they were not the most efficient executor of health care, with the lack of profits, economies of scale, and resources available, they could still provide the same quality of service for less cost than the profit-making health industry giants.  VA and Medicade/Medicare are examples of cost savings through a Government run program.

Quite frankly, the solution is to have  a fully socialized health care program in this Country.  However, that will never occur as health care is too big a giant to kill and rebuild.  But, a Government run health care option will put the checks on the industry that are needed.

To those opposed – what is your solution?  How will you guarantee health care for 46 million Americans?

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