Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Health Care in the Offing

Real Clear Politics:
Of all President Barack Obama's transformative domestic policy proposals, none is more far-reaching and less transparent than health care. What most Washington policy people mean when they talk about his health care proposal was described in the first two paragraphs of Robert Pear's meticulous article in The New York Times on April 1:

"Efforts to overhaul the health care system have moved ahead rapidly, with the insurance industry making several major concessions and the chairmen of five Congressional committees reaching a consensus on the main ingredients of legislation. The chairmen, all Democrats, agree that everyone must carry insurance and that employers should be required to help pay for it. They also agree that the government should offer a public health insurance plan as an alternative to private insurance."

Also, President Obama wants to digitalize and collect all patient health care data initially because such data could assist in assessing best practices.

This is, for certain, a controversial and vastly expensive universal coverage proposal; it would cost between about $1.5 trillion and $2 trillion over 10 years. But the full scope of the president's health care policy ambitions cannot be understood without accounting for his claim that he needs to do health care this year as part of his long-term plans to reduce the deficit.

While some emergency-room and related cost savings would be realized if everyone had health insurance, no one seriously suggests that such savings would even put a dent in the $1.5-2 trillion that this proposal would cost in tax increases and debt issuance in the first 10 years.
Here's another excerpt worth noting:
This year, the Democrats hope to pass the above described universal coverage law, which would include creating a public insurance option, that is, the federal government would offer health insurance plans to compete with the private-sector health insurance that most of us purchase through our employers. In the face of government's undercutting the cost of private-sector health insurance, more and more Americans would choose to come under the federal health system.

At some point, the age eligibility for Medicare may be lowered (perhaps to 50 or 55), and the income ceiling for Medicaid may be raised, thus further increasing the percentage of the public covered by government rather than by private-sector health insurance.
The only thing I can say about this is there are a whole lot or rhetoric abound in this whole debate. People believe there is a crisis or indeed I believe there is a problem. The problem or crisis is containing the costs of treating people.

Unfortunately, there are those who hype up this crisis to forward their agenda. It seems the only ones doing the talking are the ones who support a single-payer universal health care system. The type that you may see in Canada or England and other places around the world. In Canada, I've shown a few horror stories here on this blog.

The problem is costs. The solution should be to find ways to contain the costs while being sure that people are being treated in the best ways possible. Is there anyone out there who can provide for that?

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