Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Not Healthy, Caring, nor a System

I just heard a great interview with Douglas Brinkley on his new book on Walter Cronkite. This reminded me of Cronkite's quip about our health care system: "It is neither healthy, caring, nor a system." Because this non-health care system must be reformed, I am alert to all of the local conservative media publishers who put down "Obamacare."

This week the Adirondack Journal included a "Viewpoint" by the publisher, Dan Alexander, who says the plan "runs counter to the basic principles of our free society." He is against any sort of government provided health care. He echoes the Chamber of Commerce, which is a fine organization as long as it promotes local business and stays out of ideological politics. So here is the letter I wrote:

To Dan Alexander
RE: Viewpoint May 26, 2012

I was disappointed in your viewpoint “Is Health Care Moving in the Right Direction?” You say that you would like to see affordable health care for all, but you question and criticize the only attempt to move towards this goal. I went to www.healthcare.gov and pretended to be a business in Lake George with 55 employees. I found more than 40 choices, some of which looked quite workable. I admit that it would take some work to analyze and compare these insurance plans.

In response to your concern about employer penalties, I found this National Council of State Legislators website that details the penalty scenarios. (I researched the NCSL and found that it is quite a respectable non-partisan lobby group. They don't accept money from corporations and alternate Democratic and Republican presidents.)

There is uncertainty for businesses and for individuals about AHCA because it is complex and doesn’t take full effect until 2014. Some parts have been implemented, some parts have already been changed, and I suspect there will be more changes before then. Why not give the Affordable Health Care Act of 2010 a chance?
We all need to be more informed about this issue. I highly recommend Fareed Zakaria’s CNN report,  "Health Insurance Is for Everyone,"and a related book, The Healing of America by T.R. Reid. These studies will change your mind about government provided health care and show a private based system like AHCA which has been operating for some years in Switzerland. My own view is that it is wrong to tie health insurance to employment since there will always be many people unemployed for many reasons. They need to be covered, too.

End of letter. Wish I could write better ones. Two more points: One, why do conservatives think so highly of the non-system that we currently have? It is objectively one of the worst in the world. Two, why is health care insurance so different from auto insurance? We are mandated to have it, and there is much competition, which should keep prices down and quality up. 

But it doesn't work that way because my insurance company (State Farm - and others) give money to ALEC (the very partisan American Legislative Exchange Council) which works behind closed doors in every state to lower the required insurance coverage for drivers. Their recommendations reduce it so much that in some states now it is not enough coverage! ALEC writes proposed legislation and gives it to state legislators to save them the work of governing. When you see states considering or passing crazy laws on immigration or abortion, it is the work of ALEC.

All of the competition for our auto insurance dollars must cost a lot in advertising. Finding out which auto insurer is better or best is very difficult. (Consumer Reports helps.) I am currently researching insurance companies so that I can dump State Farm, which hasn't responded to my emails or phone calls about their ties to ALEC. Here is the article in the Atlantic that exposed ALEC.

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