The Redistribution of Health: Excuse Me, But I Think I’m Gonna Be Sick

You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time. – Abraham Lincoln

I don’t feel so good.

The United States Congress stuck their middle finger into the eye of a majority of the American people when they voted to enact a radical government takeover of our healthcare system – despite the fact that 87% of people with private insurance and 82% of people on Medicare rated the quality of their health care as excellent or good.

I was one of those 87% and, yeah, I’m pissed off.

I’m pissed off because too many people in Congress – and the US for that matter – are gravely mistaken when they argue that health care is an American right.

I’m pissed off because those same people fail to understand that the Declaration of Independence affirms that the only rights bestowed to us by our Creator are the inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.   Or that those rights merely give us the right to work for what we want – not to be given anything we want without effort.

I’m pissed off because this bill was cobbled together with enough slimy backroom deals to make Rod Blagojevich wince.

I’m pissed off because my kids’ standard of living will be greatly diminished for all of their adult lives as they are forced to pay for yet another massive social entitlement program that will expand the already massive power and size of our bloated Federal government bureaucracy.

But more than anything else, I am pissed at Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Barack Obama.

Let me tell you why.

Promises, Promises

When they were first introduced to America, Social Security (in 1934) and Medicare (in 1965) started out small and full of promises too – but now they are essentially bankrupt.   To keep those once-modest entitlement programs whole America now needs to come up with over $107 trillion – and that number continues to balloon.

We may be the largest economy in the world, but our GDP is currently only $14 trillion, which really isn’t big enough to put much of a dent in those unfunded obligations.

Despite those facts, our dear leaders said they passed this massive entitlement program into law because it will actually make things better – not just for those who are currently uninsured, but for all of us.

In exchange for nationalizing 17% of our GDP and putting the government in control of our health care, President Obama and his followers tell us that the new law will add 32 million people to the rolls of the insured (whether they want to pay for it or not – under penalty of imprisonment), improve quality of service for everyone, lower prescription drug costs, and eliminate exclusions for people with pre-existing conditions.

Best of all, this new law is going to do all this while simultaneously reducing premiums:   by 14 to 20 percent for individuals and small businesses, and $3000 for employers who provide coverage (which will mean raises, naturally, for all us trampled-upon employees.)

But Wait, There’s More!

And just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, check this out:   Based upon assumptions provided by the bill’s sponsors, the CBO estimated that our new government-run health care bureaucracy is also going to reduce healthcare costs by $140 billion over 10 years and $1.2 trillion over 20 years!

I know.

And although Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid drew the line when it came to throwing in a free set of Ginsu steak knives for every American, we still get all this for the unbelievably low price of only $950 billion!

Plus a small shipping and handling fee, of course.

Oh, and don’t be silly – there is no need to fear rationing of services, despite the lower costs and increased patient loads.

Heh.

The truth is, our dear leaders are liars.   They are giving us nothing more than another worthless Utopian promise.

The government does nothing efficiently – unless you consider increasing the number of people on their payroll.   The government can’t run our schools or the Department of Motor Vehicles competently, and yet we expect them to deliver everything they’ve promised with respect to something infinitely more complex such as health care?

Who is fooling whom here?

After all, if this law is so great why is it that most of its provisions don’t take effect until after the 2012 elections?

Change and Hope

Change is what you wanted America, and now change is what you’re going to get.

You can continue to hope that President Obama’s promises will end up being exactly as advertised.

You can believe that this feel-good entitlement program will somehow, some way, manage to stay under $1 trillion and that your taxes won’t have to go up.   You can trust that there will be no health care rationing, no delays for basic services and, worst of all, no two-bit government bureaucrats who will be forced to make decisions regarding what health care treatments you can and can not have.

You can also continue to tell yourself that this is going to be the greatest thing since sliced bread despite all the evidence to the contrary.

But you and I both know that to do so means you’d only be fooling yourself.



Comments

  1. 1

    says

    Without a doubt, the new health care plan is the biggest boondoggle I have seen in my lifetime. It is so poorly conceived that I have no idea how it could be implemented. Our health care system was already bizarrely complex and expensive. This new law does nothing to improve either problem. In fact, it makes them both worse.

    I just want to make two quick points:

    1. Redistribution of Wealth – Your title is correct, in that all of this additional taxayer money is headed to wealthy entities and there were no concessions that will reduce costs. The doctors, lawyers, hospitals and insurance companies are all getting a fat raise at our expense. This is a taxpayer swindle, just like the bailout.

    2. Taxation without Representation – Most Americans didn’t want this plan. In fact, most Americans are fiercely opposed to it. And, once again, our politicians completely ignored the will of the people and voted for it (slid it by) anyway. I hope American voters can muster the will to defeat some career politicians. Otherwise, we may lose our democracy.

  2. 2

    says

    I wanted to buy a very high deductible HSA – so I’ll just eat the cost of going to the doctor for kids fever, cough and the works and just insure myself for real emergencies and hospitalization costs. But the cost of these HSA plans are almost the same as the regular cover everything plan (in my area at least)..that is the problem…we co-mingle what essentially is prepaid plans and real insurance!

  3. 3

    Josh says

    Len said: “perfectly acceptable for the Federal Government to forcefully take hard-earned money from those who work to earn a living for their families — just so that they can give free health care to others.”

    How do you think our government has worked for decades? How did that road get into place that you drove on today? You paid taxes, probably more than the average Joe and now some guy making $10 an hour gets to drive on a road or freeway that you paid for. Is that fair?

    You’ve used the USPS for years and don’t complain one bit that everyone’s chipping in for that.

    You, as well as everyone reading this, know that these aren’t the only examples of government assistance that you’re already receiving.

    I enjoy reading your finance articles because I like to save money too, but your argument seems to be based on the “The Sky Is Falling” routine here.

    You specifically point out that you agree that 82% of people are happy with Medicare but you don’t think the government can run a program, that you’d “love for everybody to have free healthcare”, and that the CBO estimates a reduction in healthcare costs.

    The strongest argument you have against this is that you don’t believe the government. In fact, that’s the only argument you have against your very own facts. You simply don’t believe the government can do it.

    Well, it’s been signed into law, and Obama and his crew are not trying to screw you over. Just let that sit for a moment and realize that there’s no ulterior motive to harm you.

    Instead of blindly stating that “The truth is, our dear leaders are liars”, give them a chance to prove you wrong. You had 8 years of Bush and 1 year of Obama. Who exactly are you referring to when you call the government liars? Obama has been in for 1 year and 1 month.

    If you’re convinced the government is lying to you, it’s not because of the last 13 months.

    • 4

      says

      Thanks for venting, Josh. I appreciate the comments.

      First off, I don’t believe the Federal government is responsible for the roads – the States are. Is that reality? No. But that’s how it should be. The mail should be handled by the free market.

      I’m a financial blogger. I demand fiscal responsibility from both myself and my government. I walk the walk and have for over 20 years. My government – well…

      You know, the government has been around for 234 years but we’ve only had income taxes for a small portion of that. Spending by the federal government grew from approximately 3 percent of GDP in 1925 to 18 percent today and is projected to be 24 percent by 2050. That growth in government essentially corresponds with the introduction of the income tax.

      So you may wonder, how did America manage to function with such a small government in all the years before the introduction of the income tax? I’ll tell you how: It stayed confined within the limits of the Constitution. That began to change around the time of Woodrow Wilson. By the time FDR left office, the era of Big Government was well on its way.

      You must have glossed over the part of my article where I explained that Medicare and Social Security – two massive entitlement programs – are currently underfunded to the tune of $107 trillion. Or the part where I tried to put that $107 trillion figure in perspective by mentioning that our GDP is only $14 trillion. That doesn’t look like the gov’t knows how to run things efficiently to me. And the fact that 82% of people are satisfied with Medicare doesn’t mean the underlying business is being run correctly. There will probably be 82% of Medicare patients still happy with their service when Medicare becomes insolvent in 2019.

      I think I have conclusively shown that the US government is already over-extended. So with that evidence right there, how can you say the only argument I have is that I don’t believe the government when they say this entitlement is only going to cost $950 billion? THATS why I don’t believe them.

      Keep in mind that the CBO is mandated to use assumptions given to them by the bills’ sponsor. Those assumptions have been widely discredited.

      I’m sorry Josh, but I know a snow job when I see it. How can I trust “Obama and his crew” when they couldn’t even craft and debate this bill in the open? How can YOU trust them so blindly?

      I say the onus is on you to tell me why I should believe them. “Trust them, they’ve only been in office for 1 year and 1 month,” may work for sheeple, but not me.

      (Just curious, why do you bring up George Bush? I’m specifically addressing the Obamacare health care bill and all of its champions’ promises.)

  4. 5

    says

    Len,

    I can’t believe I’ve waited this long to comment :-)

    Abigail: MRSA is caused by overcrowded facilities, untrained (or under supervised) staff and insufficient hygiene protocols. The insured status of the patient comes into play only if you believe that government run (e.g. medicare, medicaid and county facilities) are more likely to breed the conditions under which the persistent bug is caught. Oh, and if you think it’ll get better when we add more patients to an already strained system…

    The Atlantic blogger Megan McArdle is calling out her fellow talking heads. She’s come up with 8 measurable results of the new regime, from infant mortality to the rate of personal bankruptcies, and is looking for someone who supported this boondoggle (Ezra Klein, Nick Kristoff, Michael Moore) to take her on.

    Talk is cheap.
    http://bit.ly/cOVtSS

    Next up, the New York Times is reporting that the social security “trust” fund (I’m laughing so hard, I can barely type this) will be upside down for the first time this year.

    Yes that’s right…all the money collected from every single working stiff in the country is not enough to pay the benefits of our retired folks. Oops. Math is hard.

    http://nyti.ms/bQOLTq

    When will we stop buying things we can’t afford? Even if they’re all pretty and shiny?

    Betty

    • 6

      says

      @Paul: Just to clarify my position… Back in the day, it made sense to specifically mandate that the PO be the responsibility of the Federal Government – technology wasn’t far enough along to allow the private sector to handle the task. I think FedEx, UPS and other smaller services have shown that to no longer be the case. I’m with you on national defense – after all, that is one of the primary reasons for the government. :-)

      @Betty: Well said – great insight, as usual! I appreciate it. Thanks for the links! :-)

    • 10

      says

      I think this is all about government control and power, Joe. The more we end up relying on the government to provide us with healthcare and other benefits, the more beholden we become to those in Washington DC. Somewhere over the past 80 years or so, self-reliance became a four-letter word in this country that people tend to equate, wrongly, with a lack of compassion. Never mind that self-reliance is the engine that allowed the USA to transform itself from a third-world nation at the turn of the 19th century to the wealthiest nation on Earth less than 150 years later.

  5. 11

    says

    Let’s see…self-reliance…self-reliance. Where have I heard that word before? Oh yea. I remember. It was on an early showing of the Walton’s.

    You state rightly that self-reliance has somehow become equated with lack of compassion. The irony is that those who preach compassion are very passionate about spending someone else’s money. But how is that compassion?

    Oh well, maybe we are both preaching to the choir.
    .-= Joe Plemon´s last blog ..The New Health Care Bill: A Prescription for Diminished Health Care =-.

  6. 12

    says

    We certainly are, Joe. And we better be careful… If we don’t do the right thing in November and elect a Congress that recognizes that simple fact, the fat lady in the choir who is warming up her vocal chords will finally be ready for her sorry solo.

  7. 13

    DC says

    Fine, if you work for others, but for small business buying on the market what we have now is an entrepreneurial killer. It’s my single biggest risk as a small business person, and the one reason I would close up shop.

    A system in which the only answer to insurance coverage is “work for others or be on Medicare” is a system in which business will all be outsourced overseas, because no one will start up any small companies. Not everyone can work for someone else. Someone actually has to be the employers. I have many friends who would like to do as I do, but cannot as they cannot get insurance. Right now unless you have a spousal plan, it’s too risky to start your own gig.

    And what we have isn’t sustainable even for large business as it makes the US uncompetitive on the international market. With or without reform, I predict that within a decade most companies will be jetisoning “provided” benefits as too much of a drag and just give people stipends and let them buy their own.

    So enjoy working for someone else. It’s people like me who start businesses so others can be employed.

    • 14

      says

      What I don’t understand is how small businesses seemed to survive in this country for the past 237 years without government-run healthcare. What I also need help figuring out is how the government will provide the same level of healthcare (actually, more and better if you believe the folks who wrote this law) for more people with fewer dollars than we’re spending now.

      I’m also wondering why young people would ever want to be doctors under this scenario, knowing that they are going to sacrifice a lot of money – and a very large chunk of the best years of their lives – to educate themselves when, as doctors, they will be getting reduced payments for services from the government… and all the while working longer hours to handle the increased work load brought on by tens of millions of new patients. That sounds like government imposed slavery to me. I know I’ll be telling my kids to stay away from a career in health care.

      The truth is Obamacare was carefully crafted to eventually push all but the smallest businesses away from providing private sector healthcare packages for its employees. The proscribed penalties for not providing a plan are small enough that they incentive businesses to stop paying for providing healthcare benefits. The end result, of course, forces everyone into the government plan.

      As somebody who works for a large business, my company has already notified its employees of the huge hit it is going to take under the new plan – obviously they are preparing us for the day when they tell us that they are going to tell us to move ourselves to a government-run exchange. I take this as a direct assault on my family – I don’t want to rely on the government for my healthcare.

      As for the impacts to small businesses:

      1) Businesses with fewer than 25 employees that pay an average of no more than $40,000 will get a tax credit — up to 35 percent of the company’s share of their total health care premium.
      2) Companies with 26-49 workers are unaffected.
      3) Businesses with 50 or more workers must offer coverage or pay $750 per worker. That penalty applies for every employee if even one signs up for government-subsidized insurance.

      Note that item 1) only applies if the small business owner keeps the average salary of all his employees under $40,000. That means you as a small business owner are going to have a big incentive to keep salaries down to avoid losing your 35 percent subsidy. It also provides a big incentive to keep your business from growing – once you get to that 26th employee your subsidy disappears. And don’t think businesses with 51 to 60 workers won’t layoff enough to get under the 50 employee limit.

      As a business owner you don’t agree that this bill is clearly bad for business? It is certainly anti-growth, which I believe is the real impetus behind this bill anyway. It has nothing to do with improving healthcare and everything to do with killing capitalism.

  8. 15

    says

    So, just to be clear, you say that 82% of people with Medicare rated their health care as excellent, but the government can’t run anything efficiently and can’t handle health care?

    As someone on Medicare, I’m the first to admit it’s messed up. But no more so than regular insurance which randomly jacks up rates, even when you don’t use the coverage, and decides who can and can’t be insured. Not being insured in this country is essentially a death sentence — either for your body or your finances.

    I cannot understand how it is acceptable that people in a first world country die of MRSA. They are dying from staph infections, people! Why? Because they didn’t have insurance, so they didn’t see a doctor when it was curable. By the time they got to the ER, it was expensive and, even if their lives were saved, they’ll never be able to pay the bill. So the hospital eats the cost and passes the expense on to the rest of us.

    Face facts: We’re already paying for the uninsured among us. And at a much higher rate.

    I’m sorry that you don’t like the bill and don’t think people have a right to health care. I think they do. I think people have a right to receive affordable health care — and I think we’ll see a lot of medical costs go down if people who are being seen have a plan that will actually pay the bill.

    It’s far from a perfect bill. The coverage, for example, doesn’t start for four more years, which gives the insurance companies the ability to screw with all of us up until then. But it’s sure as hell better than the system we have.

    I’ve yet to meet someone who has been seriously ill — with or without insurance — who thinks otherwise.

    • 16

      says

      @Abigail: Thanks for the counterpoints. First, let me say that I believe if individual states want to enact their own versions of socialized medicine then nothing in the Constitution prohibits that from happening. I wouldn’t be happy about it, but at least it wouldn’t be unconstitutional! :-)

      To answer your first question, Abigail, yes – that’s what I am saying. Medicare is a ponzi scheme that will be bankrupt in less than a decade. Today Medicare’s unfunded liability including the prescription drug benefit is $92 trillion – that’s what we would have to be set aside today to ensure the principal and interest would cover the shortfall over the next 75 years. To pay that, the Federal government will have to create dollars out of thin air, which basically steals from all of us by devaluing the dollars that we earned and have in our retirement and savings accounts! People who spent a lifetime of being responsible and building up their a hard-earned savings nest egg will be wiped out by the ensuing high inflation.

      I think you said it well: not being insured in this country is a death sentence for either you or your finances if you get a catastrophic medical condition and you are uninsured. But with over 90% of the population either insured or choosing not be insured for valid reasons (e.g., young and/or wealthy) – that statement applies to a very small minority of people. How does that justify changing a system 87% of insured people are very happy with?

      In essence, people who believe health care is a right, are actually arguing that it is perfectly acceptable for the Federal Government to forcefully take hard-earned money from those who work to earn a living for their families – just so that they can give free health care to others. That sounds like tyranny to me. The United States of America was founded by those who were fleeing tyranny.

      I disagree with your assertion that our previous free-market system was more expensive than what we will soon be getting – unless services are greatly reduced. History provides ample evidence for that. I wish I had as much faith in my elected leaders as you do. These guys couldn’t even craft this bill in the open. Why should anybody believe their promises that this system is going to be better this time around?

      In a perfect world I’d love for everybody to have free healthcare. I really do. The problem for me is the only way that can happen is if our Federal Government has the authority to rob the fruits of its own citizens’ hard work.

      I believe our individual liberty trumps Government provided health care for all.

      Thanks again for your counterpoint. I appreciate the opposing viewpoint. :-)

  9. 17

    says

    I’d love to see a comparison of what the difference in cost would be if the 18% of uninsured people received medical services, but just didn’t pay them, compared to the cost of this health care bill. I’m guessing it would be less for the medical industry and our population if their bills were written off.

  10. 19

    says

    Without touching the substance of your post, Josh (I tend to agree with Len here), I think it’s important to point out that roads and the Post Office aren’t the best examples for your case.

    Roads are generally paid out of local tax revenues, and gas tax revenues are often earmarked to transportation projects. This means the gas tax is more of a user-tax.

    The Post Office is not only constitutional (Article I Section 8), but is tasked with paying its own way through postage. Of course, this could change (http://www.usnews.com/news/blogs/washington-whispers/2010/03/12/taxpayers-might-have-to-fund-the-us-postal-service.html). According to that paragon of honesty Wikipedia, this has been the case since the 80s (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Postal_Service).

    For us non-retired people, the largest Government service we receive is Defense. If you had mentioned defense, I would have agreed that yes, I’m not complaining one bit that Defense services are provided to me by the Federal Government.

  11. 20

    says

    Most excellent title, and most excellent post! It’s funny, even though I agree with your overall thesis, which is not to help everywhere who can’t afford to pay for health insurance, I do like your post b/c I do believe the gov’t is inefficient and wants to dominate everything.

    My pro health care reform bill is below.

    • 21

      says

      Thank you, Sam. Not only for the kind words, but also for giving me another reason to express my utter dismay that this bill managed to become a law! LOL

      I think you said it well: the gov’t is inefficient and wants to dominate us. A strong central government is not what the founders had in mind when they wrote the Constitution, but that is what we have today because of jurists who believe the Constitution is a “living breathing document” subject to interpretation.

      Why, oh why, couldn’t we have started with something that didn’t completely trash our free market health care system in favor of socialized medicine? Why couldn’t we have started with tort reform and portability?

      Scary thought for the day: I just found out today that the when Medicare was first enacted, the OMB estimated the initial costs to be nine times lower than they actually turned out to be. Can you imagine if the OMB is off by nine times this go around (which, I bet they are based upon the wild assumptions the bills sponsors gave them)? Another thing to remember, the law collects taxes for 10 years but provides benefits for only six. That four year cushion is a one-time bonus only to help defray the accounting. The fight to undo this dubious law begins with the November elections.

  12. 22

    LL says

    87% of people with insurance rating their healthcare as excellent or good is not the same as being happy with the system. I’m insured, and my health care is pretty good, but the system is TERRIBLE. Awful. An absoulte nightmare to deal with. Every time I have even the smallest round of doctor visits, my insurance company and the doctor’s billing departments turn it into a fiasco. I always find myself wondering how a person who is truly sick could possibly deal with this. And what happens to the person who becomes sick and then cannot work, and then loses their health insurance as a result of that? I guess personal responsibility dictates they should just die then?

    I wasn’t happy with many provisions of the health care bill. But, I felt very strongly that our systems for coverage and costing are very screwed up. I do believe there are ways that our elected officials could relieve some of those problems. I don’t agree with the choices that they made. But I did notice that I didn’t hear a lot of alternatives or suggestions from one party during the creation of this bill. All I heard was antagonistic remarks. When only half of our leaders are willing to work on serious problems – and by the way, the projected skyrocketing of Medicare costs is one of the main problems they need to address with health care overhaul – then we probably don’t get as good of an outcome as we could have.

    To assume that the problems in our health care systems could be addressed with ‘personal responsibility’ is a big oversimplification. And I find it hard to believe that 87% people who have insurance are happy with the system. Everyone I know hates it – even those of us with insurance, savings, youth, and health.

    Lastly…since Congress is the entity that crafted the bill, it would be more accurate to call it Congress-care :)

    • 23

      Len Penzo says

      Your logic makes no sense, LL. By your own admission, you’re health care is “pretty good,” yet you dismiss polls that say 87% feel the same way.

      You’re also happy with the Obamacare health care bill – even though you don’t agree with many of its provisions.

      The other party was screaming at the top of its lungs for other alternatives, but the party in power chose to ignore them (along with two-thirds of Americans who did not want Obamacare). Apparently, you ignored them too: tort reform, portability of insurance across state lines, and reducing government interference in the system were just three of them.

      Your faith in a government bureaucracy’s ability to streamline our healthcare system is the oversimplification, LL. Maybe you think a bureaucrat sitting in Washington DC can make better choices regarding your health than you and your doctor, but not me.

      And keep this in mind, in the two areas of healthcare where there is virtually zero government meddling – Lasik and plastic surgery – prices have steadily dropped over time.

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