Coverage for the Bleeding Heart

Posted on July 1, 2012. Filed under: Culture, Economics, Government, Money | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |


In the 72 hours following the Supreme Court’s ruling on Obamacare, it would seem that everyone and their mother is now a Constitutional scholar. Fortunately for my readers, I’m not going to bloviate on the logic of Congress being able to tax something it cannot legally regulate. Nor will I pontificate on how the Federal government cannot coerce states to engage in behavior but can do so to its citizens. Those would appear to be a moot topics now. But I did notice some of my left-leaning friends envoking their Christian values (loving others as they love themselves and caring for the poor) to defend Obamacare.

Proverbs 18:2 reads, “Fools have no interest in understanding; they only want to air their own opinions.” Some of the most vocal on this issue are clearing relying preconceived false notions of federalism, (“Why can’t we mandate healthcare if we mandate car insurance?”) capitalism/insurance (“Those companies are making billions in profits!”), the uninsured (“Only the 1% can afford health insurance”), government (“It’ll be like Medicare for everyone!”), and general health (“People can’t help if they have….”), clearly demonstrating their ignorance . I’m not claiming to be a savant in the ways of health insurance, but I do rely on more informative sources than Rolling Stone articles and the Daily Show.

Christ called us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, which leads some to support government run/regulated healthcare. Yet, Obamacare will not achieve this goal efficiently or effectively and here is why:

Creating price caps on any product results in a lower price, but it does not eliminate the cost (it still takes just as much training to make a doctor or just as many hospitals to treat patients…but I digress). Instead, the cost appears in other forms like lower quality service and product shortages (resulting from demand for the product going up while the market supply simultaneously dropped). In a health industry, that can have terrible, sometimes deadly consequences.

The British National Health Service is notorious for it’s long waiting lists to see doctors or to schedule surgeries. In one year alone one 4,000 women gave birth in hospital waiting rooms, bathrooms, hallways and elevators while waiting to be seen by a doctor. The OECD found that 27% of Canadians and 38% of British wait more than 4 months for elective surgeries, which included some heart surgery.

But you don’t need to look abroad for other examples. You could look the VA, Medicaid, Medicare or the military health insurance TRICARE here in the US. Costs under all of these programs have exploded, while care is anything but stellar. Because my husband is a Marine, we have TRICARE. Last year, I found a lump in my breast and waited 3 weeks before I could see a specialist, another 2 for results (which were thankfully clear). Yes, the price was zero but the cost was not. I hate to think what those three weeks would have cost me if I had cancer…

Another example, my son’s doctor told me his office dedicates one person to handle TRICARE insurance claims because of the bureaucratic mess involved, while another employee handles all other insurance claims. Many doctors’ offices and hospitals don’t even take Medicare/Medicaid because government reimbursable rates are so low (certainly some costs associated with doctors not seeing those patients aren’t there?). These disincentives will only increase and will eventually back-fire leading to fewer smarty-pants wanting to be doctors, as it did in the UK. There, half of doctors are imported, many from third world countries where training isn’t first-rate, unless you include voodoo which is always a safe bet.

Don’t forget Americans get to enjoy many of the latest drugs before the rest of the world because the newest drugs are usually the most expensive (those evil money-hungry pharmaceutical companies have to recooperate their R&D costs, not to mention invest in new drugs). Single-payer systems won’t, and can’t, afford the best drugs for everyone. The price on the next-best drug may be zero, but is the cost?

Christians (and otherwise) all want their neighbors to have the best healthcare for the lowest cost. But past and contemporary history and basic economics show us following the way of the NHS and Medicare/Medicaid isn’t the way to achieve that goal. There still are ways to bring costs and prices down, such as returning insurance to it’s original intent (managing risk). But unfortunately, exploring these ideas would require politicians and the public at large to gain little discipline and understanding, rather than just concentrating on airing out their well-intentioned but poorly-informed opinions.

PS – Please feel free to air out your opinions of me airing out my opinions below.

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