Wednesday, January 24, 2007


"Gold Plated" Health Insurance??

The admiinistration does not want good health care for all Americans, period. It has no qualms about it’s rich friends having good health care, but it really doesn’t give a shit for the poor. 47 Million without health care insurance—men, women, children. Almost all of those uninsured are at or below the poverty line; Bush’s tax plan won’t help them one bit—what it will do is tax those in the middle (who continue to pay for their own insurance). It helps build some nice intra-class hostility. And it will benefit the insurance companies—which is no surprise.

Here in Bend we have to clinics for those without insurance—it’s a long wait to get into either one. Otherwise, people wait until medical emergencies and then head for the ER over at St Charles. This isn’t unusual at all in our country. We need a health care plan for all Americans; like Canada has, Japan has, England has, Germany….Those countries have one government agency that handles medical insurance; just like Medicare does. Medicare works and there’re reasons to expect it to work just as well as an agency for insuring all Americans, and save money.

Gold-Plated Indifference
By Paul Krugman
The New York Times
Monday 22 January 2007

President Bush's Saturday radio address was devoted to health care, and officials have put out the word that the subject will be a major theme in tomorrow's State of the Union address. Mr. Bush's proposal won't go anywhere. But it's still worth looking at his remarks, because of what they say about him and his advisers.

On the radio, Mr. Bush suggested that we should "treat health insurance more like home ownership." He went on to say that "the current tax code encourages home ownership by allowing you to deduct the interest on your mortgage from your taxes. We can reform the tax code, so that it provides a similar incentive for you to buy health insurance."

Wow. Those are the words of someone with no sense of what it's like to be uninsured.

Going without health insurance isn't like deciding to rent an apartment instead of buying a house. It's a terrifying experience, which most people endure only if they have no alternative. The uninsured don't need an "incentive" to buy insurance; they need something that makes getting insurance possible.

Most people without health insurance have low incomes, and just can't afford the premiums. And making premiums tax-deductible is almost worthless to workers whose income puts them in a low tax bracket.

Of those uninsured who aren't low-income, many can't get coverage because of pre-existing conditions - everything from diabetes to a long-ago case of jock itch. Again, tax deductions won't solve their problem.

The only people the Bush plan might move out of the ranks of the uninsured are the people we're least concerned about - affluent, healthy Americans who choose voluntarily not to be insured. At most, the Bush plan might induce some of those people to buy insurance, while in the process - whaddya know - giving many other high-income individuals yet another tax break.

While proposing this high-end tax break, Mr. Bush is also proposing a tax increase - not on the wealthy, but on workers who, he thinks, have too much health insurance. The tax code, he said, "unwisely encourages workers to choose overly expensive, gold-plated plans. The result is that insurance premiums rise, and many Americans cannot afford the coverage they need."

Again, wow. No economic analysis I'm aware of says that when Peter chooses a good health plan, he raises Paul's premiums. And look at the condescension. Will all those who think they have "gold plated" health coverage please raise their hands?

According to press reports, the actual plan is to penalize workers with relatively generous insurance coverage. Just to be clear, we're not talking about the wealthy; we're talking about ordinary workers who have managed to negotiate better-than-average health plans.

What's driving all this is the theory, popular in conservative circles but utterly at odds with the evidence, that the big problem with U.S. health care is that people have too much insurance - that there would be large cost savings if people were forced to pay more of their medical expenses out of pocket.

The administration also believes, for some reason, that people should be pushed out of employment-based health insurance - admittedly a deeply flawed system - into the individual insurance market, which is a disaster on all fronts. Insurance companies try to avoid selling policies to people who are likely to use them, so a large fraction of premiums in the individual market goes not to paying medical bills but to bureaucracies dedicated to weeding out "high risk" applicants - and keeping them uninsured.

I'm somewhat skeptical about health care plans, like that proposed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, that propose covering gaps in the health insurance market with a series of patches, such as requiring that insurers offer policies to everyone at the same rate. But at least the authors of these plans are trying to help those most in need, and recognize that the market needs fixing.

Mr. Bush, on the other hand, is still peddling the fantasy that the free market, with a little help from tax cuts, solves all problems.

What's really striking about Mr. Bush's remarks, however, is the tone. The stuff about providing "incentives" to buy insurance, the sneering description of good coverage as "gold plated," is right-wing think-tank jargon. In the past Mr. Bush's speechwriters might have found less offensive language; now, they're not even trying to hide his fundamental indifference to the plight of less-fortunate Americans.

A few little items you forgot - not intentionally I'm sure:

Most "poor" without health insurance are illegal aliens - over 15 million in the USA - or more.

Many choose to buy consumer items than buy health insurance.

Other "poor" that can't afford health insurance should not be popping out kids when they can't afford them.

Then of the remaining that choose not to have health insurance or "can not afford it" - I want to audit their purchases and see what it is they can afford. How much you wanna bet most can afford cell phones, flat screen TVs, computers, etc.

Then there are some that might be able to afford it but they don't take care of their own bodies - they are obese, smoke, etc. and the premiums for them are higher than for otherwise healthy people. YOU buy their insurance - don't expect me to!

Now any tiny fraction of legal Americans that have taken care of their bodies (not smokers, not obese, not alcoholics) then yes - help should be provided, but only to this tiny few that truly need it.
I'd like to know where your stats come from. They sound Faux Network to me.

Woof woof!
So Bush wants to make health care like home ownership!!! Well get out the bank loans and you end up with a 100 year health mortgage that is never paid off. By the way home loans are a trillion dollar business so I can see why Bush likes this. You can't insure everyone, just those who can't pay!!! so it goes--Pete (A)
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