Tuesday, August 25, 2009

INSUROCORP defeats socialism!

Libertarianism triumphant:

From the accompanying comment thread at Digby's, reader John Doheny impresses me so much I'm going to quote him in full:

I'd like to hazard a prediction right now. I've been fighting pessimism from the beginning of this whole thing, but frankly, I don't see anything good coming out of this for anyone but insurance companies, even with the 'public option.' Because I've become convinced that Americans are so wedded to their own way of doing things that anything else is not only 'politically impossible,' but actually inconceivable to them.

Most Americans that I talk to (even "progressive" ones) take it as a given that the very best version of a public option would simply resemble "good" private insurance, with the same complex and confusing sets of 'co-pays' and 'deductables' and various other restrictions of service. Those on the right assume it would be even worse through the introduction of "government bureaucrats" who would insert themselves into the process "between you and your doctor." Not to mention the dreaded "rationed care." Frankly, with all this baggage I'm skeptical too. I can very easily envision a public option so compromised that only the poorest and most disenfranchised opt for it.

The whole thing just blows me away, quite frankly. All ideology aside, I was very happy with the health care I had in Canada. Actually "happy" is not the right word. I was indifferent. Never thought about it, anymore than a fish thinks about water. "Health care" as a concept never entered my mind, didn't influence any life decisions about where I lived or worked. When I got sick I went to the doctor or hospital, waved my MSP card, and they did their thing, end of story. There were no co-pays, "patient responsibilities" or restrictions, no things "not covered" or partially covered, no complexity of any kind. If there was a bureaucracy (obviously there would need to be, somewhere) I never had any dealings with it. Decisions were made by me and my doctor.

Were my taxes higher? Slightly, but considering that my premiums were about one quarter of what they are here and there were no additional, hidden expenses, I actually came out ahead. Of the three elective surgeries I had, the longest I waited was four months. The one emergency procedure was done immediately. (This, by the way, is mandated by law in the triage system. Emergencies go to the head of the line).

Having spent the last 6 years arguing with United Health care (and throwing a lot of money at them in the process) I can't see how anybody but a total, blithering idiot would actually prefer things this way. And since most Americans aren't idiots, I can only conclude that the problem is perceptual. Americans simply cannot 'see' the obvious solutions.

I have no idea how one would overcome something like this, hence my pessimism. I think what we're going to see is merely the appearance of 'reform.' What'll we'll get will almost surely be a massive giveaway to private insurance. If we're lucky, we may get some tightening of regulation on the industry, by way of addressing their most blatant abuses. If we're not, we'll wind up 'reforming' medicare into a private, for-profit service. Either way, look for your insurance premiums to double in the next ten years, while "coverage" continues to shrink.

Whenever I want to write about the current health care reform debate, I just end up getting mad and saying "screw it all". I hope John doesn't mind my posting his comments so that twenty other people can read them.