Letter to a libertarian friend

Private health insurance companies are in the biz to make a profit, and they do that the way all businesses do, by giving the least possible service at the highest price the traffic will bear. They do that by cherry picking subscribers, anyone with the slightest chance of getting sick is excluded or their rates are prohibitive. Anyone that gets sick gets a hassle when it comes time to continue follow-up care. Providers get stiffed every way possible, not paid, paid late less and excluding anything possible. I know this because I deal with them daily.

I laughed when John McCain came out against “government health care” because he (and you for that matter) spent his entire career getting “Government Health Care” and no one ever heard him complain at the time. In fact he got excellent heath care, and so did you. Another howl was some oldster at a town hall meeting yelling at Obama not to allow that awful “socialized medicine”, but hastily adding “and don’t mess with my Medicare (the pure essence of socialized medicine). I deal with people insured by Medicare every day and I am still waiting to hear anyone complain about it.

The private health care providers are immune from any regulation or competition and they do a STUNNINGLY bad job of caring for the population, about 40% of which is un- or under-insured. Very libertarian. They fix their prices to maximize their profits, and no one can do anything about it because they are protected by those in congress that are in bed with them. Conservative Republicans afraid of an evil government bureaucracy with the “efficiency of the post office and the charm and compassion of the IRS”. BTW, the mail gets delivered on time mostly and the IRS is not an insurance company so it doesn’t matter how they treat anyone.

We have already had a vision of how private corporations work when left unregulated. They are not any kinder or gentler than Federal bureaucracy. They do anything they can to line their pockets at the expense of innocents and they very nearly broke the American bank. If they had been left alone any longer than they were, they would have done just that and then sat down and cried at the lack of any more money to steal from poor slobs trying to keep their heads above water. Very libertarian. On their worst day, government bureaucracy couldn’t be any worse than AIG, Enron, Bank of America, Fidelity and an almost endless list. Made fortunes on greed and corruption that makes Nixon look like an amateur and Charlie Manson a punk. Then continued to try to line their pockets even after they were outed. Now it’s time for the pendulum to swing back and see if it’s possible for government to do good things. There is no inherent reason why government programs should be any worse than incredibly badly run private programs. How could it possibly be worse than the last 4 years?

And the financial reality is that the taxpayer is probably the only cash base able to afford paying for something as expensive as health care. Private insurance companies suck up everything they can for themselves, administrative costs trying to find new ways to avoid or divert payment make up as much as 30% of cost. I see the un- and under-insured every day, social workers trying to find ways for them to avoid bankruptcy and financial penury for the rest of their lives and their kid’s lives for menial unexpected illnesses, hospitals billing them for full freight, while they bill insurance companies pennies on the dollar for the same issue. Working families of four or five desperately trying to keep their heads above water trying to deal with unexpected illnesses. It breaks my heart.

It’s outrageous and contemptible that the USA is the ONLY country in the world that allows working people to sink like rocks through no fault of their own with an unexpected illness. They all laugh at us in Canada, France and the UK and God Forsaken New Zealand, a country with more sheep than people, a country that gives its citizens affordable health care and world class ICU care as well.

So all this whining from Conservative Republicans trying to kill affordable health care for all Americans, a pure and simply political ploy to hurt the President impresses me not. They don’t give a shit about all the suffering and misery the private insurance system causes. A government allocation system that manages to provide affordable coverage for ALL it’s citizens is exactly how much worse than skimping on care and denying benefits to assure a profit?

Conservative Republicans feel the need to “Study” any plan, especially a plan put together by Obama, indefinitely, assuring its death by a thousand cuts. In so doing they accomplish a double disaster. They kill health care reform and condemn us to more of the same to save us from the evils of “socialized Medicine”. And of course they have some up with NOTHING other than various plans to tweak a wholly unworkable system appeasing the private insurers that made it unworkable. Secondly and most importantly, they insure that we stand still and do nothing indefinitely, an option that does NOT exist.

Standing still is NOT an option. Every minute we stand still in this economy is a minute that EVERYONE loses the potential for health care indemnification. Purchasing private insurance of any kind is already unaffordable for the average worker. 5 years ago, 60% of working people had coverage through their employment. Today 31% have the same coverage and the cost is going up exponentially. Employers are dropping it like hot rocks and workers are unable to afford the continuing increase.

Health care is mandated but payment for it isn’t. Failing to render health care is ille but paying for it is undefined. Who do you think pays for all these people with no health insurance, increasing daily? Anyone that arrives at a hospital MUST by law be admitted and treated as long as they need care. No one can afford to pay the full freight. By standing still, we continue to rush headlong to financial oblivion. Every one of these workers with (increasingly) no insurance that gets sick still lands in the same system that won’t pay for them up front so it pays for them under the table by a tax base that is going broke rapidly. And they are increasing in numbers daily.

Gleeful conservative Republicans and their religious wacko counterpoints are having a field day trying as hard as they can to get to Obama by denying poor, helpless souls some kind of meaningful protection. Scaring oldsters by crowing loudly in TV bites that Obama plans to kill oldsters to save money and finance abortions with the money saved. It’s BEYOND CONTEMPTIBLE. And the scary predictions of five year waiting periods for emergency and life saving care in places like the European Union are simply not true. I talk to EU doctors every day and I have been all over the EU and seen their hospitals and talked to their doctors and not once have I ever seen any evidence of urgent or emergent patients languishing.

So I am less than impressed with libertarian ideals that help support our current system of culling out almost half our population from affordable health care to insure profit, the most expensive care in the world and not even in the top ten most efficient and effective when compared to other countries.

2 thoughts on “Letter to a libertarian friend

  1. Uhm, You may want to read up on the UK’s socialized medicine fiascos at samizdata.net, for just one example. Also, I wonder if you’ve read how the ACA has inflated medical costs for everyone as well as allowing the government to fine those who don’t buy insurance-something illegal by LAW before the ACA was rammed through Congress. Mitt Romney tried something similar in Massachusetts-how did that work out? The VA is also “government run” health care, and few veterans I know are happy with it.

    • The health care system in the UK is designed to service ALL the population as effectively as possible. The price paid for that is that they sometimes (not always) take a number and wait. Most prefer that deal than having their lives irrevocably destroyed by an unpredicted illness. The NHS service in the UK isn’t perfect but it does what it does reasonably well. They (and Canada) are progressively figuring out that the demand is exceeding the supply and so, prompted by the global financial disaster of 2008, they are in trouble and it will get worse before it gets better if it ever does.

      The ACA is a good deal all things considered. It provides portability, wide coverage and reasonable prices. Americans traditionally want it all, they want it now and they don’t want to pay for any of it. Those days are coming to a screeching halt. The days of financing total health care coverage according to the desires of the public went the way of progressively increasing unaffordability of medical insurance. The public is going to start paying for health care indemnification and they’re going to pay plenty. The ACA will stave it off for a while but in the end, there is only one system that “works” and that’s the UK style NHS, and that will work progressively worse as government administration slowly sees the bottom of the barrel.

      The criticism of the ACA is purely political from opponents that routinely and reliably oppose everything and anything that comes out of this White House, no matter how useful it might be. If everyone had jumped on board to shape a plan that worked better, it would be a different deal. The criticism of the ACA comes from the same villains that nearly sank the economic ship in 2013 and went down with it only to show that conservative “principles” work. So I’m less than impressed with this criticism.

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