My car was recently broken in to, and I had to work together with my auto insurance company in order to replace the damage. I was a bit unfamiliar with how this process would work because I do not need to use my auto insurance very often. This got me thinking....why do I never use my auto insurance, but every time I get any sort of health care I use my health insurance? This is the question is worth a bit of pondering....
We must first start by learning how our current form of health care system made its run to the top. The HMO Act of 1973, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_Maintenance_Organization_Act_of_1973, an act unbeknownst to most, mandated managed care for everyone. To answer the escalating costs in Medicaid and Medicare, Congress turned to HMOs for help.
In 1973, the HMO Act was passed which mandated companies with more than 25 employees to offer HMOs as a health care option. Until then most employers had avoided HMOs fearing increasing costs.
In 1995, Congress repealed the HMO-employer mandate, but it was too late. HMOs had already gained a staunch position in the medical marketplace.
By mandating managed care for some people, and by passing legislation allowing HMOs to deny care to Medicaid patients (via Medicaid Section 1115 waivers), the government had assured HMOs maximum profits, with very little downside risk. Public officials also profit politically by promising "free" health care. This new type of managed health care allows politicians to promise health care without actually guaranteeing access to it.
Now it's 2009, and Health Care is back on the table, and Obama wants sweeping changes to the system. Are Medicare and Medicaid broken? YES! Is it because the greedy doctors charge too much? Well that is a part of it, but they are just trying to cover their asses, and get paid. The root causes of the high cost for health insurance falls on the US Federal Government. Let me explain.
When comparing health insurance and auto insurance, I came to a very interesting point. Do you use your auto insurance when you get your tires rotated or oil changed? No, but do you use your health insurance when you go for a simple physical? YES! Why do we prefer using health care for simple "routine maintenance" on our health, but not for our cars? Simple, the government has subsidized health care with taxes, and we have become over reliant on health insurance.
Remember, if the government wants more of something then they subsidies it, and if they want less, they tax it. Currently we, the average American worker, get our health insurance through our employer. Currently we do not have to pay taxes on employer health insurance, but we do on our income. This is a subsidy on health care. Since we pay taxes on our money, we want to keep whatever Big Brother doesn't take from us, and therefore we use our health insurance every chance we can. Got a splinter...go to the doctor and pay your co-pay. Need a new set of tires....go to Tire King and pay for them out of pocket. Only in health care does a 3rd party pay for nearly everything we have done.
Few experts will debate the fact that health care, along with Social Security, are going to be the largest financial drains on the US in the future. We have a generation of "baby boomers" that are just now reaching retirement, and not enough young people to pay for them. Remember, these government programs were set up with the expectation that an ever growing base of people would expand and pay for the elderly. When the young people get old, there will be more young people to fill in the gaps. This, as we all know, hasn't been the case. This is an endless, vicious cycle.
What can we do?
Prez Obama is trying to sell a "public health care" option to the American Medical Association or AMA. This is being sold as a "competitor" to private health care providers, whose prices are already set by the States. This is nothing more than a state regulated monopoly already,, but with a never ending fund of tax payer money, I don't see how real competition can be expected.
Side note: Did you know that the US Government jumped in to save the failing AMTRAK saying that it would be returned to the private sector in 2-3 years? While under government control, AMTRAK has never turned a profit, and is still under federal control 40 years later. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amtrak#Public_funding
Some call this new public health care "competitor" a "Trojan Horse" which is sneaking in to the nation's health care system, and will eventually take over control. When the government wants to FINE you for not having healthcare, and make theirs affordable (via taxes that you've already paid), then the choice is clear; you get Obama's health care or get fined! Employers that do not offer health care plans already face Federal fines. Talk about busting down the door socialism.
I think a good solution to the problem would be to end government regulation of who must buy health insurance, and who must provide it. If I do not want health insurance, I should NOT be fined by the government just because they want to push a socialist agenda. The more the government is involved in an industry or service, the higher the prices go up. Another good example of this is education.
The game is rigged. If this competing public health care system is actually implemented, the price will be subsided by your taxes. When the price of the government backed health care starts to fall (due to competition of course) watch for rising taxes, especially the "sin taxes" on beer and cigarettes. Eventually you have completely socialized, inefficient, bureaucratically taped red health care system that treats you like the DMV.