Tuesday, August 11

Who's Insuring That People Without Coverage Get It?

Lost in the battle of wills and words over health care reform is the fact that 46 to 48 million of our fellow Americans have none and more may join them until the economic recession we are in dies down. It hasn't escaped my notice that those screaming the loudest on both sides of the aisle likely have what Ralph Nader calls "gold-plated health insurance." So who is really focusing on those in the most dire of straits?

Those without care are pawns in the middle of a war. The basic conflict playing out here: whether I should be able to profit on you being healthy or not.

If health care is a right, as in "the pursuit of happiness", then the profit motive comes across as crass, if not criminal. If health care is a commodity like soy beans or corn, then why shouldn't anyone be able to take a risk, invest, and turn a profit? From this 10,000 foot level, it is a philosophical discussion that can be debated for eons and likely will be.

However, here on earth, people's lives are greatly affected by their access to reliable, equitable, affordable health care services. And there is not a doubt that these services are not evenly distributed throughout or even available in all communities. This is patently indefensible.

The fact that a PhD economist who writes for the Cato Institute has a level of health care that a poor, rural or urban person with a sixth grade education can only dream about is unfair. Intellectual exercises and fomenting have no place in deciding the fate of who gets health care and who doesn't, particularly when what we are doing as a society is not working and costing all of us in the end.

So let's go back to the basics. Government is in the business of doing what the free market/private sector is unwilling or unable to do. Business is good at generating revenue, but historically not as good at sharing profits.

So let's focus on the 46 to 48 million people without health insurance. If it makes the most economical sense to put them under a public-funded single-payer, government-run (dare I say it, a non-profit monopoly) program, so be it. If the private sector could do it better, they would have by now. Let's face it, if everybody had access to reliable, affordable health care, this argument wouldn't be going on.

No comments: