Monday, June 01, 2009

To Your Health

The broad outlines of the Obama healthcare package are coming to light. I'm not sure I like them much:
It's hard to believe that only three months ago, health care advocates worried that President Barack Obama would drop the health reform issue from his first-year agenda. Now, with an August deadline to pass a bill, a compromise that once seemed unimaginable is considered quite possible, both sides say.

Congress this week begins a two-month sprint to pass legislation overhauling the health care system — an aspiration that has eluded generations of American politicians. The task is exceedingly complex and faces the legislative equivalent of an Ironman triathlon, tested at every stage by monied interests, political alliances and an estimated 13-figure price tag.

My beef with it?

It's too complex and in politics, complex means it's too easy to hide the loopholes in.

Think about the laws we pass in this nation for a moment. Take speeding laws: if you exceed the speed limit, in the judgement of the officer who is issuing the ticket, you've broken the law. A traffic court may overturn this, but it's unlikely that anyone is going to get away scott free with every ticket issued.

The rule is simple: There's a defined limit. You exceed it. You pay a price.

Now, take a look at the tax code, one of the most complex systems known to mankind.

Does everyone pay their fair share? No, not even nominally, much less in practice.

Here, we're talking about people's lives. Here, we're talking about creating a bureacratic nightmare the likes of which we can't even begin to fathom.

Government does some things better than the private sector. Take mail delivery. If FedEx or UPS had the same mandate as the USPS (deliver mail to whomever in the United States mail is addressed to) we'd all be paying enormous sums of money to fund the rural delivery system. Government can make it cost effective enough that it costs 44 cents...and that's AFTER FedEx and UPS have skimmed off the most profitable portions of the delivery system: overnight mail and commercial parcel deliveries!

Government is the only organization sufficiently scaled to handle insuring 300 million people. Period.

This entire bill should be scrapped. We should have a single-payer health insurance where everyone knows what they will pay when they visit a doctor (nothing), doctors can still afford million dollar homes (they do in England) and you don't have to argue with an insurance bureaucrat with regards to being treated. If the doctor finds a test medically necessary, there won't be some beancounter sitting over his shoulder, timing the procedure.

Maybe this is a first step in that direction. And maybe it's unnecessary.