Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Five "Freedoms" to ponder

Got a link to this article sent to me:

5 Freedoms You'd Lose in Health Care Reform

I'm not an expert. I don't have all of these laws and rules at my fingertips. I deal with things based on principles that I hold. And I'm willing to question anything. Even freedom. So,...


1. Freedom to choose what's in your plan

Correct. You will no longer be able to choose not to pay the money necessary to prepare for certain things. It's all or nothing. If the committee decides that certain things have a significant risk for people in the United States, and allocates some money to study it and find a cure for whatever it is, our money will be going towards that research, as well as the money necessary to treat the people suffering from the disease.

The Senate bill requires coverage for prescription drugs, because many people in the United States (including myself) need them to survive. It requires mental-health benefits, because people who are suffering from a mental illness need our help. Same with substance abuse. It's less expensive to treat people and get them back into mainstream society than to let them rot and move into the underground culture of crime.

So, everyone pays into the system, and those resources get allocated however they are needed to provide all of us with the coverage we need for whatever troubles us. That's what being in a "society" means.

2. Freedom to be rewarded for healthy living, or pay your real costs

When Social Security passed in 1936, it launched what is known as a "generational committment". The decision was made that we didn't want to see our elders on the street, or losing their home, or thanks to Medicare passing in the 1960's too sick to appreciate the life they have.

What is the reward for healthy living? How about an enjoyable life? The purpose of our government is to secure Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness for our citizens. If you're homeless, or sick, you're not very happy.

And the real costs of people being sick go beyond just that individual or that family. The entire community suffers, because that person is not being effective at work, is not able to participate as a member of their family, etc. So we need to be willing to pay the costs necessary to get that person back on their feet.

3. Freedom to choose high-deductible coverage

A "market" is where people make trades and exchanges of goods and services, under a set of rules. That's what is so often ignored when people talk about "free markets". They don't exist. All markets operate under particular rules and laws. If you're talking about a financial market, it wouldn't exist without the money that is being used in the exchange. It wouldn't exist without the laws being enforced by the courts. It wouldn't exist without a foundation that protects people on both side of a trade. If by "free market" you mean one without any rules, you're talking about Anarchy.

Health Savings Accounts mean one thing. If you haven't saved up enough money, your insurance doesn't cover it. The tax thing? We can fix that. And do you really want to buy into a program where you must have that $12,000 available in cash in case you get hit by a car? That makes no sense.

Consumer driven care, to me, means care that is under the control of a patient and their doctor. The insurance company is there to pay the bills, not put something between what your doctor says you need and your ability to pay for it.

4. Freedom to keep your existing plan

This is based on an assumption. That assumption is that the employer based health care system is good and healthy for our country and our citizens. If you believe that it is, then this Freedom is important to you. If, on the other hand, you believe that our employers should not be saddled with the costs of health care, then this Freedom doesn't seem so important.

What part of your health care do you want to keep? Your rates? What if the new program costs you less? Your doctor? What if the new program would allow you to continue to see your doctor, go to the same pharmacy, the same hospital, etc?

The biggest "threat" when it comes to your existing employer based health care plan doesn't come from the Government. It comes from your employer. What if your employer figures out that they can save a lot of money by dumping their health care coverage and requiring people to go to the "exchange" instead out of their own pocket? From sole proprietor to super-corporation, every business needs to examine their ability to keep up with the costs associated with health care. If it is less expensive for your company to ask people to move to the public option, or another option because they choose not to offer coverage, that's what they will do.

I won't get into details in the law. Let's start with principles. Is a business in existence to make money, or to provide services to their employees? I thought it was to make money. It's OUR responsibility as a society to take care of each other. It's not the responsibility of your employer. That has twisted the for-profit business sector since World War II, when businesses started offering health insurance coverage because the rules of the economy at that point in history did not allow them to raise wages. It was wrong then, and it's wrong now.

5. Freedom to choose your doctors

The article goes into big picture what if statements. I have a primary doctor. He is covered under my plan. I would not choose to take coverage under any insurance plan that would require me to change my doctor. And if the government tries to take away my choice, I'll raise havok with my government, which I have the ability to do. Right now if my private insurance company decided to drop my doctor, I would not have any opportunity to influence that decision. Because my insurance company is looking at costs, not my desires and wishes.


Question the assumptions. Question what we have now. Don't assume when you are looking either direction for a solution for this mess.

Freedom is not free. That's a phrase that gets shot around all the time. And it's right. Freedom is not free. It requires a foundation. And it's the role of our government to secure our foundation so we don't fall through the cracks. That's the progressive viewpoint on Government.

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