Wednesday, July 15, 2009
No real reform found in Democrats's health care reform
The President of the United States came out Wednesday and embraced the health care reform bill being formulated by Democrats in the House of Representatives. This bill is over one thousand pages. Even speed reading the bill takes hours as the language is dense and complex. There are things like an office of minority health affairs to be created, a health choices director to be created, etc. One thing does stand out, and that is the tax language involved.
The major media has hit upon the so called “millionaire’s tax” in the legislation. However, the “millionaire’s tax” begins for couples who make $350,000. That includes not only salary, but money made from investments in businesses and stocks. The bill also will charge any business that employs over 25 people $750 per employee it does not pay for health insurance coverage for. There also is a measure to make everyone have health insurance coverage. There are no measures to address the real reasons for the high costs of health care: litigation fears and the myriad of regulations health care and insurance companies have to pay people to deal with.
The legislation proposed by the House Democrats and supported by the President will compound the problems people deal with in regards to health care. Here’s how.
First, taxing millionaires seems popular. Perhaps on salary income such could have broad appeal. However, taxing capital gains as well is just boneheaded in this current economy. We need people to invest in American business. We should not punish them for making money for their investments in business. Some liberals contend that taxing capital gains as well will keep the so called rich from “hiding” their money in investments. Such an idea is ignorant of economics. Investment in American business should be encouraged, not discouraged by more taxes.
Second, small businesses are the engine that will drive any potential economic recovery. A business with 25 employees is a small business. Chances are the man or woman running that business make personal sacrifices to meet payroll from time to time. If they can not pay for health insurance coverage for all their employees it is likely because they do not have the money to. So, faced with the choice of keeping 25 folks employed and paying a fine or laying off a couple of people to not be fined, chances are people will be laid off. That is not what is needed in a nation with double digit unemployment.
Third, real health care costs issues are not being addressed. Health care has become the most complicated overpriced commodity in American business. There are three reasons for that. First, health care is not a typical good or service. If you are having a heart attack or have been in a car accident, you are in no position to negotiate price with a health care provider. Think about it, if you are having a heart attack, are you going to ask the first responder which hospital is the cheapest to go to? Of course you are not. While you might search out the cheapest car, computer or clothing to fit your needs, when a health emergency arises, you take the service and worry about the costs later.
Health care providers and even health insurers have taken advantage of that predicament people get into. Before you assume those providers are just out to make a buck in someone’s moment of need, think of the regulations that they have to deal with. Health care has become one complicated thing. Government regulations and fear of lawsuits are the third reason for the increase in health care costs. Every moment of health care provider’s day has to be documented. Then that documentation is reviewed by someone trained to know the ins and outs of health care regulation. Then, the insurance company pays someone to look at the same information to make their judgments. On and on it goes.
Here is an example of what is going on. Billy Bob is out cutting up firewood for the winter. His chainsaw slips somehow and he cuts his arm. It is a deep cut. Jim Bob is with him and calls 911. The ambulance arrives and treats Billy Bob on the scene, documenting every step they took and submitting that to someone paid to review it. Billy Bob arrives at the ER. Before treatment begins, an admissions clerk, paid again by the system, asks Billy Bob about his insurance. She submits her notes to whoever is paid to review them. Then, Billy Bob is seen by the ER nurse, who makes and submits her notes to another paid person. The doctor makes his way in to look at Billy Bob. It looks like a simple cut that needs stitches. But, fear of litigation has changed the procedure. The doctor makes his notes, and then orders Billy Bob to X-Ray to make sure. The X-Ray tech makes her notes to whoever is paid to review them. After the X-Ray, the doctor decides all he has to do is give Billy Bob some stitches and an antibiotic. But, before he gives the antibiotic he checks a paid for database to make sure Billy Bob does not show up as allergic to anything. Then, before Billy Bob leaves, some clerk comes around getting him to sign a statement about his right to privacy.
Three weeks later, Billy Bob gets the bill for his treatment. It is four figures. His insurance company pays someone to review it who decides that the X-Ray was not necessary, so they refuse to pay for that. Billy Bob starts getting calls from a bill collector. Billy Bob gets fed up and thinks he will see them in court. He does not. He gets a notice saying his South Carolina tax return has been garnished to pay his health care bill. An accident that would have cost him perhaps a hundred bucks twenty years ago has cost Billy Bob thousands in insurance premiums that would not pay the inflated health care bills and a lost tax return.
The plight of people like Billy Bob is what has the American people in angst about health care. However, President Obama’s plan does nothing to address those types of concerns. Like any other lobbyist driven big government legislation, all it will do is cost the Billy Bobs of the world more money. Frankly, what are the Billy Bobs of the world to do when their employer lays them off and yet Billy Bob is still required to carry health insurance with little or no income? How can health care costs be driven down when there remains such regulation and fear of lawsuits over little or nothing? How can there be money to pay for health care for all if business is driven out of business and people who invest are punished? It is enough to make one sick, but chances are, one can not afford to be.