Further thoughts on health care…

Posted on March 22, 2010

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It’s about health care, not health insurance.  It was written half a year ago, but it’s still relevant.  This entire issue has been about health insurance companies working with health care providers to jack prices and deny coverage in order to make money.  I have a problem with excessive greed.  I also have a problem with excessive government, because both embody two essential problems our nation faces: one group having too much power, and individuals not taking responsibility for their lives.

For example, at one time there was a need for unions in America.  Big companies were taking advantage of their workers because the workers had no suitable way to fight back.  Monopolies used to be a problem, because the buyer had no way to make companies play fair.  Antitrust laws fixed that problem (sort of); union laws fixed the other (sort of).  But the problem didn’t go away: it shifted hands.  Now unions have power that companies don’t have, but if you’re just some independent worker, you have no power — there’s no one working for you.  I speak from personal experience on this, from when I worked at a warehouse and was denied certain benefits and coverage because I wasn’t part of the union — and couldn’t become a member until I’d worked at least a year and was invited to join.

I’m concerned about the balance of power, but I know that there’s no much that can be done, especially now that some sort of legislation exists, providing room for “improvements.”  More importantly, I’m concerned about the attitude people have toward responsibility.  The debate on health care has revolved around one key issue: health care is too costly and too many people are being denied coverage.

But people aren’t being denied coverage.  Any person can go into a hospital and get the care they need for the problem they have.  It won’t always be the care they should get, or they may be getting the wrong care (treating the symptom and not the disease, for example), but no person will turned away.  So if people can get medical care, what’s the issue?  The issue is the cost, and the fact that they don’t have health insurance.

As I see it, insurance is this: I pay someone money, and if — I cannot stress this enough — IF I get sick, they cover my medical bills.  Now there are more details involved, so I know it’s complicated, but the point is that health insurance is the same thing as putting money into an investment account.  In the event of a tragedy, you pull your savings and pay to have the problem fixed.  A person who doesn’t invest their money runs the risk of not being able to pay.

That’s where individual responsibility comes in.  All people can and should use some of their money to build up a savings plan.  There are different means — savings account, ROTH IRA, mutual funds, insurance policies — but each represents active protection against disaster.  But people don’t do that.  And when disaster strikes, what happens?  People whine and cry about big, bad companies that won’t give them a handout.

Aw… poor you.

One caveat: I’m not against charity.  I will help out people who have fallen on hard times.  I believe that groups of people should do the same.  I don’t think our government should, and I think people need to recognize that it’s wrong — and potentially dangerous — to rely on other people all the time.  I was brought up to be independent and to pay my own way.  I intend to raise my family likewise.  I hope that people will learn to do the same, and I pray that those who cannot will get the help they need from individuals who have more.

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