Why is the discussion about healthcare always about insurance? Why is it that the two choices always seem to be “socialized medicine” or affordable insurance? I think that we have socialized medicine right now – it’s just run by the private sector for profit rather than the government! And, it’s almost as dysfunctional. Consider the socialist maxim: “From each according to his ability; to each according to his need.” Isn’t that pretty darn close to the insurance business model? Don’t the insurance companies take from those able stay healthy and give (reluctantly, but that’s another story) to those unable to stay healthy? And, because we are a compassionate people, those of us who are able to pay insurance indirectly subsidize those who cannot through higher rates. So, in effect, I maintain we already have socialized medicine. The big difference is that the organizations currently running healthcare (the insurance companies) have profit as their primary goal – NOT our health! I don’t care what the pretty advertisements say, these companies exist to make money, not help us with our healthcare needs. And the way they make money is by charging as high a premium as they can get away with, investing that money well, and paying out as little in claims as possible. It has always amazed me that people seem comfortable with a profit oriented, completely non-accountable insurance bureaucracy managing their healthcare versus a non-profit, accountable (through the election process) government bureaucracy.
But, allow me to get back to the main issue. The issue should not be framed as an insurance problem. It is an affordability problem. Americans seem to want someone else to pay for their healthcare – whether it is insurance or the government. I think this is the root of the problem. If we all had to pay our own bills, we would take better care of ourselves. The system might change from insurance companies influencing, sometimes dictating, the cost of healthcare to competition. We do not have a free market in healthcare right now. I can’t shop between the equivalent of WalMart healthcare and Sak’s healthcare and make an informed choice. The way the system works right now, that’s impossible to do.
It costs too much to go to the doctor. Medical procedures and tests are too expensive. But, because there is no true competition for these services, and because we as individuals rarely pay the bills ourselves, there is little incentive for those costs to come down. That is the root of the problem.