Monday, August 10, 2009

Healthcare

I had a couple of great ideas for titles, but other people have already used them. That's what I get for checking. Now you get nothing.

Ideas I'm fleshing out for a magical (and probably mythical) essay:

- Socialism isn't bad on its own. Socialism is bad when it is used to quell the masses, or when it is set up badly, pushing costs into the future. So many of the things we take for granted in this country (and which had an immense effect on the strength of this country) are socialist. Roads, the military, the police, the court system, trade agreements, the border patrol, etc. Socialism is a necessary "evil" in a society.

- Reforming healthcare in this country is the pro-life option. The pro-lifers claim that the rights of the child trump the rights of the parents (*). The same way, the right of a child, born or unborn, to decent healthcare. No matter what we believe about the parents' circumstances, the fact that children are born unhealthy for lack of healthcare should make us all sick. Especially when we have the resources to pay for it.

- Socializing prenatal and infant care may well end up being a net positive. I have to think that for what it costs to care for a child born with some disease/disorder that could have been prevented, thousands of pregnant mothers could be given prenatal care. Not to mention, not condemning that child to a harder life for the sake of politics.

*- Yes, it's a spurious, over simplified argument in regards to the abortion issue. It's much more meaningful here.

- Our healthcare system may well be the best in the world. That is NO EXCUSE to try to make it better. The status quo is not good enough. There is always more that can be done.

- No, I wouldn't want the DMV or the Post Office people taking out my appendix. On the other hand, I'm pretty sure my doctor doesn't know how to work the stamp printing machine, so we'll call that one a draw.

- Rationing already happens, all the time, everywhere. There are only so many resources to go around. If there was no rationing, hospitals wouldn't need waiting rooms. In the current system, healthcare is rationed by the insurance provider. If you go over the lifetime limit, you are SOL. Pay for it yourself. If you need some procedure that is booked up solid in your approved hospitals, you wait.

- Perhaps there wouldn't need to be rationing if it wasn't so darned expensive and risky to become a doctor. Perhaps we'd be better able to care for people if the barrier to entry was talent and skill rather than the ability to fund the education. Perhaps tort reform wouldn't even be necessary.

- Talk about rationing: most states have quasi-governmental hospital boards that tell private companies where they can and cannot build hospitals. Lack of choice for the consumer, lack of choice for the entrepreneur looking to build a hospital.

- There is no appreciable choice in American healthcare. You are stuck with what your insurance company (most often, chosen by our employers) has available for you. You want choice, you have to go "outside the network" and pay more for the same care.

- We already have socialized healthcare. We all pay for Medicare and Medicaid through our taxes. We already pay for illegals and the uninsured through higher costs. The only difference is that the costs aren't fairly distributed. Those of us who pay for healthcare are already subsidizing the care for these people, but in the world's least efficient manner. (IE, waiting for people to get so sick that it constitutes an emergency and forcing hospitals to care for them because they are legally and ethically bound to do so.)

There IS a way to solve the problem that isn't "do nothing" and "communism". There IS a way to make the money WE ARE ALREADY SPENDING work better for us, while maintaining the profit motive and free choice that we claim to love so much. Moron that later...

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