Deforming Healthcare

We all want health care to be available to every American who needs it, but the current health care debate has turned into a monster. It is no longer about uninsured poor Americans. If it were, I would not be affected, since I am neither uninsured nor poor. This is clearly a power-grab.

I believe that the representatives writing the health care legislation are not interested in giving. They are focused on taking. As I wrote in my book “7 Life Lessons You Should Know,” politicians are not in the problem-solving business. If you are not prepared to make a situation better, leave it on the table. We can always come back and screw it up later.

I have an interest, just as you do, in how this pans out and have attempted to educate myself as well as possible on where we are in the process. Most sensible people who investigate the bills agree that if passed, we will experience scarcity in available medical services. About the time this is mentioned, someone usually comes on television and accuses whoever says that of hating poor people and wanting them to suffer. That’s because the power grabbers can’t afford for voters to focus on the word “scarcity.” We all understand what that means. Put ten children in a room with seven toys for an hour. How long does it take a child to understand the concept of scarcity? My son is only four and I imagine he would begin to panic in less than sixty seconds if placed in such a situation. There is rocket science and then there is scarcity. One of those notions is complicated.

The “death panel” comment keeps coming up and has certainly stirred up a lot of emotion. It makes sense to me. Some people are simply going to have to be turned away from health care. We know that because of every other country and even the U.S. states that have tried the same system. Part of the concern derives from political discrimination. If we make it easy for people to do the wrong thing, it will happen that way more often. Why should we tempt our politicians with such an opportunity to abuse us? One worry is that a strong Democrat majority will appoint people who refuse care to Republicans. Let’s just put it out there. Why should we tempt them and whisper into their ear “if you kill off enough Republicans, you will be able to keep all this money and power?” That is asking for trouble. And if you are a Democrat and thinking hey, that puts me on the best side, think again. Just because the White House is currently between Republicans, that does not mean that change isn’t coming yet again. Never give power to liberals that you would not want to hand over to conservatives.

And what about cost? No one seems to even know. The estimates vary greatly, from “it will cost less” to near infinity. As I have written elsewhere, I am a numbers guy so here I go again. I have tried to collect the most relevant and accurate data possible. These are not the exact numbers I wanted, but I can still make this explanation work.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2004 the gasoline consumption per person per year was 465.5 gallons. File that away for now. There have been a couple of recent “independent” studies trying to estimate the increase in health care costs that will be brought about by the proposed legislation. The PriceWaterhouseCooper estimate was $4800 per family per year, over and above health care inflation. The Oliver Wyman study was only $3300 per family per year. Let us use the low number just to show that I am not trying to exaggerate anything here as we put the data together. And I will assume that households have two drivers for a total annual consumption per household of 931 gallons. As stated earlier, an additional $3300 will be spent by families without additional services or goods being received. $3300 divided by 931 gallons is $3.54/gallon. So where am I going with this?

The estimated increased expense per household is equivalent to gasoline going from $2.50 to over $6.00 per gallon. Ouch. I remember what four dollar gasoline did to my checking account. Things were very tight for a while. In my opinion, that was the tipping point that pushed so many households over the edge and started the mortgage meltdown. Hundreds of dollars disappeared every month from consumers’ pockets and since so many of us were barely scraping by anyway, mortgages could no longer be paid. The meltdown was inevitable, but four dollar gasoline was the final catalyst. The equivalent to six dollar gasoline is coming during the time of a deep recession because of this power grab. This one is really going to hurt. You will not have to prove that you are American to get free health insurance; you will just have to prove that you are broke. How long will it be before those two labels are synonymous? With free market health care, success is measured by saving lives. With single payer health care, success is measured by saving money.

I once heard someone suggest that the working public would eventually be forced to decide whether to support its parents or its children because there would not be enough money to do both. It turns out that he was overly optimistic. Soon we will not have the resources to do either. My political heroes feel the urgent necessity of borrowing $800 billion from China in an effort to pay for health insurance on 12 million Mexicans. Why can’t we just bring in Jimmy Carter to negotiate an agreement between the two of them and leave me out of it?

The elderly (age 65 and over) made up around 13 percent of the U.S. population in 2002, but they consumed 36 percent of total U.S. personal health care expenses according to the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey Publication. Our health care system can typically treat a number of forty-year-old people and their moderate issues for the price of the care necessary to save just one eighty-year-old. Problem: if those forty-year-olds get enough care they will eventually grow to be eighty and develop very expensive life-threatening issues and eventually become financial anchors of the system as well. You are minding your own business, taking life one day at a time, and the next thing you know you find your access to necessary medication getting hatcheted by your own kids. I guess the only fair part of that is that they will eventually get the axe by their children as well if the rationing comes to light as expected. Instead of naming the proposed health care legislation after Senator Ted Kennedy perhaps it should be called the “Lizzie Borden Plan.” I am opposed to the takeover. We must collectively agree to cut off the career and sever future aspirations of any political hero who votes to initiate such inhumanity. Perhaps the next public debate on the issue could be held near Lizzie’s home in Fall River, Massachusetts. I read that it is actually a bed and breakfast now.

If my government takes control of all medical professions, health care will invariably be transformed from acute to obtuse. This is no longer about uninsured poor Americans. Once again, if it were, I would not be affected because I am neither uninsured nor poor. The uninsured poor in America are not being helped, they are being used. Used by my White House and by my Congress. Go ahead and pack your bags folks, we are all going on a power trip.