There are many reasons to oppose Gov. Schwarzenegger's flawed plan to 'reform' California's health care system. Below are my top 5. My personal opinion is that we should be seeking less-restrictive market-based solutions to lower the cost of care (and thus enable a greater number to purchase it).
1. "Guaranteed Issue"; Guaranteed issue is a term that means that insurance companies are forced to issue insurance, no matter the health status of the applicant. Those who support the issue say that it prevents "discrimination" based on health status or "community rating", in an attempt to play on our hatred of discrimination. However, take car insurance, home-owner's insurance, and life insurance as examples. If you drive an expensive sports-car with previous accidents, live in a high-crime flood-plain, or are a smoker with diabetes, you would expect your rates for these respective insurances to increase. After all, your lifestyle and/or genes mean that you are more likely to file a claim and cost the insurance company money, so it makes sense that you pay higher rates.
Guaranteed issue does nothing more than spread the blame. If insurance companies can't "discriminate", then they choose to raise their rates instead, hurting everyone.
2. Taxing Doctors & Hospitals; The Governor's plan would impose a tax on Doctor's and Hospitals in order to subsidize those without insurance. This Socialist-mentality makes no sense. Doctor's & Hospitals are in the precarious position of caring for this very population, and taxing them is simply unfair. Should we tax landlords and tenants to subsidize homeless shelters? Tax Restaurants to feed the hungry?
Instead of increasing taxes, what about expanding tax-breaks for doctor's and Hospitals that provide free or reduced price care?
3. Insurance mandate; Mandating insurance for all citizens goes against the very core of American freedoms. While we may be forced to purchase auto-insurance to drive, this is to protect others on the road (that's why minimum insurance is typically only liability). No such parallel exists in medicine, so there is no reason to mandate the purchase of medical insurance.
Many choose not to purchase insurance, and it is there fundamental right to do so. However, they should be held accountable for that decision. Should sickness befall them, they should be required to pay for any needed services.
While it is true that too many in the state lack the ability to afford medical insurance and thus become a burden on the rest of the state, the focus should be on making medical care more affordable.
4. Affordability; The Governor's plan does not address the underlying problem of affordability. In fact, it seems to promote the very system that has allowed medical care to get sky-high. Third party payors (i.e. insurance companies) separate rational choice from medical care. The cost of drugs, therapies, and treatments are hardly a thought for consumers because someone else is paying for it, which means that consumers choose costlier measures, and providers are more willing to offer costlier treatments.
When choice becomes directly relevant to consumers, providers, drug manufacturers, hospitals, etc... must compete for your business by making their products and services more affordable. Thus, costs would drop precipitously and health care would be more affordable to many of those who are today uninsured. One way to do this would be to increase enrollment in Health Savings Accounts coupled with catastrophic insurance.
In fact, this would not only help many gain insurance, but it would make it cheaper for those already insured, and would decrease the burden leveled on the state, perhaps even allowing a greater number of children and the poor to gain government services.
5. Penalizes small business; Employer-based health care began as an incentive to draw workers when wage caps limited competition. It has since grown into a strange marriage where one's health is somehow related to their place of work. In todays world, let's face it...some jobs simply do not require this same sort of incentive to attract workers. Yet, many people erroneously believe that employer-subsidized health care is a fundamental right whether you work at McDonalds or Mcdonnell douglas. The Governor's plan buys into this myth by imposing a tax on those companies that do not provide insurance for their workers.
Labels: Health Care