1. Health care costs were rising at a pace faster than inflation.
2. Millions of Americans were without health insurance. Not without health care, mind you, but without insurance.
3. Health care insurance, for the most part, was tied to employment. No employment, no insurance. Change employment, risk losing insurance due to pre-existing conditions, waiting periods, or not available. With the high unemployment rates due to the financial crisis, many lost their insurance.
4. Medicare and Medicaid were fraught with waste and abuse, and were consuming an ever larger chunk of state (Medicaid) and federal budgets.
So, the politicians, seeking to gain the vote and their place in history, promised to fix these problems with a complete overhaul, replacing our rather patchwork system with a giant federal system, as seen in European and other first world countries. Now, that seems logical, but they forgot, or more likely just ignored, a few things.
1. The U.S. is not Europe or Canada. We are a country born and bred to cherish individual liberty. It is in our DNA. We do not take kindly to stuff shoved down our throats, even if it may be good for us.
2. Our federal government is superb in some things, namely national defense and aid to foreign nations, but not so good at others, e.g. social programs. This is by design, we are not, or at least up until now not a socialist country.
3. Change is better tolerated in increments.
4. We are a representative republic. Our leaders are supposed to do what the people want them to do in an open and collaborative manner.
5. Americans care about the welfare of others. We don’t want anyone to starve. We think all children should get their immunizations and that if catastrophic things happens to people, we should pool our money to help them. This does not extend to paying for every last aspirin, heating pad and birth control pill anyone might want. It is much cheaper, and fairer for all concerned, for people to pay for that stuff themselves, whether out of pocket, or from employment benefit.
So what did they do? They created an extremely complex and costly program, ignoring all those principles, without public input or even knowledge of what was in it. They pushed it through, even though it didn’t even have the required majority in Congress. That’s right, it was one of those dark of the night, sneak it in, deals. If it was so great, why would that have been necessary?
Then they lied about it, made all kinds of false promises. Then, as icing on the cake, put people in charge with no clue how to implement it, but to whom they owed political favors. They did not address critical problems such as fraud waste and abuse, nor make attempts to increase the provider network. How is all this newly available healthcare going to be provided? Well, by rationing and queuing, of course, but they don’t talk much about that.
Is it any wonder it is collapsing under its own staggering weight? The question now is can they patch it together well enough that it sort of works, or should it be scrubbed altogether. I think it should be the latter, we will never reach our goals with this system. But in all likelihood, they will attempt to tweak it enough that they can say they created a national health care plan. A second private system will undoubtedly rise up, as those who can afford to pay will not want to be in the public system.
It is sad to think about the billions dollars wasted on this fiasco. The all- important, yet astonishingly non-functional website alone has cost a billion dollars, enough to pay $2,000 in health care costs for 50,000 people.
At a time when our national debt is staggering and our economy still struggling, if we simply improve the existing public health system, and make aggressive efforts to reduce fraud, waste and abuse, we would be far better off. That way, the uninsured would still be able to get basic health care. That is the goal after all, isn’t it?
©Copyright Tracey Wood 2013 All Rights Reserved