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In order to keep up with the nature of free, spirited debate, I wanted to place the chat feature at the top of the homepage. This ensures people can come here and share their views on anything they wish and not have it be related to any specific discussion. Here, people can share ideas, links, and views "unmoderated" and an their own pace. To me, this makes The Elephant in the Room blog truly a place for debate.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Open Forum Debate: Healthcare, Obamacare, and All of the Above

The Supreme Court is set to hear arguments today regarding the Affordable Care Act signed by President Obama in 2010. This is indeed historic as the outcome of these proceedings and testimonies will impact our nation forever.

This open forum discussion is dedicated to the Affordable Care Act. 

All people are invited to express their opinions for, against, or indifferent about the law many refer to as Obamacare. From this discussion, we hope people can learn from each other. Agreement is not always the desired outcome; sometimes a simple meeting of differing opinions yields a great reward: learning something you didn't already know.

I wanted to share some of my opinions to kick off this forum. I could write for days about Obamacare, but I just wanted to share two focused thoughts as to why I am vehemently against this law.

First, to me, this sets a very, very dangerous precedent. Yes, rising healthcare costs and the burdens placed on the uninsured in addition to the burdens the uninsured place on the healthcare system are large and negatively affect us all. There is no question about this. But, in getting to my opinion, let me intentionally sidetrack in an attempt to make a point.

We live in a country of fairness and law. We are supposed to (though it seems politicians scoff at this idea) uphold and respect The Constitution and fairness above all things. For example,  if a suspect is accused of murder, regardless of how heinous and nasty the crime is, no matter how much of a "slam dunk" the case is, if evidence is collected unfairly, illegally, etc., it's thrown out. If a driver is pulled over for a traffic stop and 50 lbs of cocaine are discovered illegally, nothing happens to the driver. Many would ask, "why not?! They were committing a crime!" Yes, that's true, but we must maintain constitutionality and fairness above all things. We can't simply ignore these two facets of our nation's fiber because we can conveniently solve a problem or problems. We can't just lock people up for murder if it makes it easier to solve murders no matter how unconstitutional the collection of evidence is. We can't arrest drug offenders in the manner discussed above regardless of how harmful or negative the drug trade is.

Why?

Because we have a limited federal government above all things. We have always been a people that doesn't mind a little government authority... a little. No matter how big a problem something is, we cannot give the government MORE power (many people cite this line when arguing against the Patriot Act). Child pornography and child sex trading are HUGE, disgusting, vile crimes we have within our borders. It's evil, and it ruins many, many lives. We recognize it's a problem. Why can't we just rush in and search residents' homes in an attempt to eliminate this disgusting problem? Again: because we have a limited federal government above all things.

Where is all this going? It goes back to the original point: "Yes, rising healthcare costs and the burdens placed on the uninsured in addition to the burdens the uninsured place on the healthcare system are large and negatively affect us all." Okay... that's a given. No one disputes this. BUT, and this is a BIG but, we cannot just make a law simply because we want to solve a problem. Many people say, "well, that's the reason we make laws." No, it's not. I have read numerous opinions of various circuit court judges that have said this law is economically necessary and helps solve the problems our country faces with healthcare.............

WHAT?!?!?

Economics aside, is that the job of the courts: To issue opinions based on the help or hurt of the law, not the law itself? If I think back to third grade, I remember learning that the function of the courts system (obviously including the Supreme Court) is to weigh the lawfulness of laws. Its job is to ensure each and every law passes a strict measure of checks to protect against we the people giving our federal, state, and local governments too much power. The numbers, dollars, and cents part is to be decided by analysts and people of the like, NOT the court system. In my opinion, if the Supreme Court holds up Obamacare, this sets a dangerous precedent if the argument of economic benefit or lack thereof (this is very debatable, but it's not my position in this post) is employed. It it's upheld, from this point forward, if we want to solve a problem in this country, screw the Constitution. If it helps people, if it solves a large problem, we can just pass a law and ignore all constitutional objections.

My second issue with Obamacare is: it has nothing... yes, NOTHING to do with ensuring all people have health insurance.

Let's get down to brass tacks here. Proponents of Obamacare say:

- "There are 47 million people without health insurance; we need to ensure all Americans are covered."

Okay, forget the part about having the right to do or not do something, no matter how important it is. I'm not going to get into the discussion that some people make about having the right to not purchase healthcare (I do think that having the right to purchase or not purchase something personal is something that should be preserved, but that's not what this is about). This law has been sold under the premise that it ensures everyone in the nation has healthcare... pause... pause... pause... pause...

But it doesn't really do that. Why not? Because it still allows people to not purchase healthcare if they pay a fine. The government says it wants to make sure everyone is covered, but then it's perfectly okay if people don't carry health insurance.

In a really, "quick and dirty" example:

- John Q Citizen does not carry health insurance of any kind.
- The government doesn't like this.
- John Q Citizen is above the income threshold for receiving medicare.
- John Q Citizen is fined by the government for not carrying health insurance.
- John Q Citizen pays the fine.
- John Q Citizen still does not carry health insurance of any kind.

Problem NOT solved.

In the end, if the problem isn't solved, what is this truly about? Money? Votes? Politics? I'm going to guess it's about votes. It goes back to the "buying votes" logic. If a party continually gives and gives and gives free things to voters, do you really think those voters will vote against that party? Sure, John Q Citizen in this example is above the minimum threshold for medicare, but do you think the 47 million Americans that will now receive free health care will vote against Obama and the democrats? I don't; no one will bite the hand that feeds them.

Please share your thoughts below. UPDATE: Be sure to vote in our Obamacare poll on the right.

33 comments:

  1. I have no problem being taxed a little more so people that don't have health care can have it.

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    1. You don't need to be taxed to do that. You can donate all the money you like to charities, organizations, or the individuals who need the help directly.

      Delete
    2. Ohh really lol. And do you have any ,,, idea just how many new taxes are in this so called health care law or - mandate - ??.

      Delete
  2. Yah, I have no problem with that either. It's called charity. Forcing people to do it is called theft. The government should not be taking from one group of people and giving free services and such to other. If I walked down the street and robbed someone and took their wallet, and then gave the money to a poor friend, that's theft. If the government does it, it's taxation. If you want to donate more, fine. The treasury accepts ALL forms of payment. But don't MAKE me do it.

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  3. No Tea but NObama eitherMarch 26, 2012 at 8:44 AM

    Hopefully the justices of the Supreme Court are looking at the Constitution for guidance and not how many demonstrators this side or that side has out front.

    Also LME your points are dead on and I completely agree with the two major issues you brought up. I bet no one else thinks of it in this way, and that is sad.

    When you said it does nothing for ensuring Americans were covered, with the way you put it, that really opened my eyes. It's 100% true.

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  4. This issue is tough for me.

    The one thing I absolutely believe in is the fact that our current healthcare system is drastically flawed.

    The healthcare costs are continuing to rise exponentially. We’re paying something close to the tune of $70 billion a year for uninsured emergency room visits, that is long past being abused and in large part can be eliminated if these people had access to affordable care (particularly preventative). Pre-existing conditions are leaving people to go bankrupt or die, often for reasons/causes out of their own control.

    Those are all just some of the major issues with healthcare.

    And frankly, I am very disappointed that the GOP has focused most (if not all) of their energy in opposing the Affordable Care Act, rather than providing their own alternative solutions.

    I don’t quite fully support the ACA, but I oppose keeping things to the status quo far more.

    I would love to hear ideas on how to address healthcare, and I simply just don’t believe the status quo is an acceptable one.

    All of that said, some major parts of the ACA I agree with:
    - Eliminating pre-existing conditions as a reason to deny coverage.
    -Regulating insurance companies to apply 80% of their income towards healthcare costs (as opposed to current average of 50%), significantly lowering premiums.
    - Expanding the coverage of preventative care.

    And to me the flaws/more questionable aspects:
    - Healthcare mandate. While I understand a bigger insurance pool will (in theory) lower costs and help this plan work, I’m not convinced this was the best way to do it.
    - Establishing a board with power to set prices/make decisions independent of our executive/legislative branches. Don’t support this at all.
    - Universal plan coverage, while this is what helped expand preventive care, I’m not convinced this was done the best way either.

    In a perfect world, if we were able to take care of the ballooning costs, reduce barriers to entry for insurance (pre-existing condition hoopla), and significantly lower premiums a mandate wouldn't even really be necessary. I'd rather see that approach tried before a mandate.

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    1. I think the cover your kid till 26 needs to go also.
      Once you graduate HS, you should be prepared to:
      Get your own insurance. (your parents can still pay it, but you'll have your own plan)
      Vote and Pay Taxes.
      Using the "my son's in college" excuse doesn't apply. Most colleges have plans you can buy semester by semester. Also, college is about learning life skills, so put the boob away.

      Delete
  5. Regarding your two points LM:

    For the second point, I have to mildly disagree.

    I understand your point in that by charging a fine it does still allow for people to go without health insurance. However, even though I don't quite agree with the mandate, I think that it still does a rather good job of getting people to purchase coverage.

    History with the mandate in Massachusetts has shown that the overwhelming majority of people will buy insurance rather than pay the fine. This is why MA as a state has the highest rate of people carrying coverage, at a 95% rate:
    http://www.gallup.com/poll/146579/texans-likely-uninsured-mass-residents-least.aspx

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    1. Wanna bring down the costs of Healthcare?
      Don't smoke
      Eat healthy (nothing with a shelf-life over 7 days and mostly plant based)
      Exercise regularly

      Delete
    2. Rken Google "GOP health care solutions" and you will find tons of solutions (since this blog likes proof, there is mine)

      The reason you haven't heard of these is because they are completely drowned out byt the chants of love and adoration for your deal leader King Obama. The GOP want to create REAL, non government run markets for people to choose from. They want to reform tort law so that if something goes wrong, you can't sue for $140,000,000, which causes malpractice insurance to skyrocket, which is paid by the doctors and passed on to you. These are some of the many things the GOP wants to see to bring the costs down.

      But your logic is exactly what's wrong

      "The healthcare costs are continuing to rise exponentially. We’re paying something close to the tune of $70 billion a year for uninsured emergency room visits, that is long past being abused and in large part can be eliminated if these people had access to affordable care (particularly preventative). Pre-existing conditions are leaving people to go bankrupt or die, often for reasons/causes out of their own control."

      That's true. But this blog post is somethign I agree with:

      " It it's upheld, from this point forward, if we want to solve a problem in this country, screw the Constitution. If it helps people, if it solves a large problem, we can just pass a law and ignore all constitutional objections."

      I agree with the post that we can't just say, "but but but it will help so many people."

      Be that as it may, we can't trample freedom to do it.

      Keep in mind, I'm a democrat, and I support freedom.

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    3. Dark Lord: I actually am very healthy, and live a healthy lifestyle. Unfortunately though the few don't have much influence over the many, and the fact of the matter is many Americans embrace unhealthy habits; a trend that has been increasing despite increased awareness of the dangers of smoking/inactivity/obesity.

      Unfortunately though, other than increasing awareness I’m not sure what else we can do about those problems without potentially jeopardizing freedoms or overstepping bounds.

      Anon: I am completely aware that GOP health plans exist, but my point is that we’re not hearing anything about them right now. Rather than the GOP campaigning on “we have the better plan!” they’re campaigning on “ACA must be repealed!” I think they would have a far stronger case if they used the former.

      For example, Paul Ryan & the GOP countered the Democratic budget proposal by proposing their own version of the budget. It stood little chance of being passed and was more symbolic than anything, but it presented a far better case for speaking against the Obama & Democratic budgets than if they simply bludgeoned the Dem plan but never proposed one of their own.

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    4. Anon - So, the GOP wants to create free markets but wants to protect the industry from tort claims? Doesn't seem much like a free market to me. Seems like a 'you'll take what we give you and like it' market. We live in a litigious society (mainly because everything has become so complex with too many laws) and you can not protect certain folks and leave others with no recourse. Using that logic, why not do the same for oil companies, auto makers, pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, and anyone who would benefit from limited legal liability. The pharmaceutical/health insurance/health care relationship is a dangerous one not too far off from the lenders/real estate brokers/appraisers that just crashed the economy of the world. I'm not sure how the Pharma/insurance/care relationship could wind up as horrible as the lending/real estate market but I am also unsure that it won't have just as big an affect, if it isn't already.

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    5. Huh? No. the GOP wants to create free markets because competition will make prices go down. Tort claims will prevent undue costs on medical providers. Don't mix up issues.

      And to Rken, profit in the healthcare industry is very important. It's what keeps companies sharp. Customers will purchase more of a better product. Better product = more purchases, more purchases = more profit. Profit keeps companies on their toes. If we remove profit, why would a company try to provide a good, high-quality service?

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    6. Anon: I recognize the value of profit, and definitely believe in various principles and advantages of the free market.

      But this isn't quite a case where that applies though... this issue is primarily concerning the profits of insurance companies, which don't provide a "product" or even necessarily a unique "service."

      There's really no room for 'innovation' or 'high-quality service' when it comes to dealing with health insurance companies. They either pay the bill or they don't, and everything else is typically just filler.

      This is even more the case when all insurance companies are regulated to providing similar benefits and minimum coverage (which this bill ensures).

      If anything, minimizing the share of profits that insurance companies absorb in the healthcare cycle will not only help reduce overall healthcare costs, but allow for more of the profits to be made through the actual healthcare providers themselves (which is where the true innovation and high quality services will come from, and where it matters the most).

      It would be like me arguing that regulating car insurance profits would hinder car innovation and consumer satisfaction with thier cars.

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    7. Ken you couldn't be more wrong.

      I work in the health insurance industry. In fact, I'm an actuary.

      To say there is no room for "innovation" clearly shows you're talking about a subject you're very unfamiliar with. It's not "they pay the bill or they don't." Anyone who thinks that is not involved and truly has no idea how this works.

      We are absolutely providing a service. It's a promise of good faith. We will mitigate, litigate, contractually defend, and pay all claims needed for our insureds. We simply don't just "pay the doctor bills." Most importantly, we pool risk. Yes, we are very similar to car insurance. You can choose Geico, Allstate, State Farm, Progressive, and you will probably go with whoever has the best service, contractual coverage, for the lowest price. If we and auto insurers simply paid the bills, there would be no difference between competitors. That's a huge fallacy.

      With regards to risk, we are always updating our models. We take numerous characteristics into account (just as car insurance companies ask you for age, vehicle, location, history) we do the same. We use highly educated experts (actuaries) to statistically mitigate risk to lessen the blow to individuals by spreading it across society. Our best "innovation" is to always be researching and expanding statistical relationships through complex actuarial analysis to better assign risk to premium.

      Do you know why costs are so high? Government regulation, risky health behavior, ridiculously high malpractice insurance costs, and slim profit margins. Just as in auto insurance (where underwriting profits are mostly negative) we have slim, usually negative profit margins. Sometimes we stay afloat by investment margins, sometimes we don't.

      As far as innovation, we are constantly innovating. Computer services, internet quotes, employer-to-insurer markets are just some of the ways we are providing a better product to our insureds. Just as Progressive innovated and invented Snapshot (again, showing car insurance is not just simply "paying the bill") we do the same.

      You really should learn about this. In my professional opinion, another wrench in the gears known as the government will seem like a helper, but will ultimately hurt us all with regards to healthcare coverage.

      Delete
  6. Like RKen, I am torn... I too cannot accept the status quo. I also have an issue with mandates. It is my opinion that, if the goal is to have an insured rate of 100%, it can only be reached through government paid universal healthcare. Anything less is a tool of appeasement. Of course, this would require the government to hit the healthcare industry with the worlds biggest bitch slap but the time for that is well overdue anyway. The government would also need to invest in more medical schools.

    We, the people, subsidize the pharmaceutical industry - ie: we foot a tremendous bill just to get these drugs to market. Then, after we've paid to bring the product to market, we get price gouged to make up for the poorer countries who cannot afford what we can, as a nation. This, in my opinion, is unacceptable (as are the ridiculous gas prices we are subsidizing so that Big Oil can continue to set quarterly earnings records, but that's another discussion). Further, the healthcare industry is one GIANT conflict of interest. It is in a company's best interest to protect the bottom line. How is that done at a health insurance company??? DENY COVERAGE!!! The reimbursement structure would be the tricky part of such a plan but there are European models to use as a template.

    The cost to implement such an aggressive plan would be largely offset by the dissolution of medicare/medicaid, indigent care (people could go to a general physician rather than the ER).

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    1. Universal healthcare? LOLOLOL Yes! That is working out so well for Canada and the UK that they are trying to repeal it right now, and it will more than likely be gone within 5 years.

      And here we go with subsidies. You are right on this: we shouldn't use tax dollars to subsidize ANYONE. But as far as big oil, yeah, let's pull back that HUGE $21 billion annual subsidy (laugh) and watch our gas prices rise.

      Spare me the rhetoric. "big oil quarterly earnings" Maybe you don't know about how profit margins work. I don't care if big oil earns $1893589340250948590234, if they had to spend almost that much to get it, sure, they made record profits, but they made a small margin total.

      And European model? Oh boy. Again, it's not quite working out. When you give free things, people lose the will do to things for themselves. Why don't we also ask Greece and Portugal and Spain for a copy of their fiscal model, too.

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    2. You don't quite paint the whole picture there, esaucarin93.

      There are many forms and ways that Universal Healthcare has been approached, and all with varying levels of success. But where some have failed, others have done very well (see: Cuba, Norway). The system can (and even does) work, and citing a few instances where it has run into some hardships is hardly irrefutable evidence of it never working.

      Canada in particular as it has had major issues in assigning too much power to individual provinces, which has in large part caused the biggest issues in the payment and funding of their plan. An issue that is completely unique to Canada.

      The subsidy argument is a bit silly on both sides, which you seem to be playing on. Yeah, it’s a relatively small subsidy to our total spending, and it would likely effect gas prices… but whether we pay for it in taxes or at the pump, we pay for it either way. Frankly, I’d rather pay at the pump than through tax.

      And as for your criticism of the European model, once again a few failures don’t completely break the cycle. Germany has an incredibly successful history over the most recent decades and has the strongest, best growing economy in the union. France is also doing very well.

      And Greece is a particularly bad example as it’s one of the most corrupt examples you could list. The issues with that country stem far deeper than simply ‘people too lazy to work hard’, as they have had major issues with debt, fudging numbers, and extreme abuse of the tax/retirement/pension systems.

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    3. Cuba?! HAHAHA - Yes, when you watch their wonderful propaganda videos. Their health system is terrible.

      Norway and Germany = They are apples, we are lettuce. They don't have tons and tons and tons of illegal immigrants coming here, flooding the demand for health services while giving nothing to it. Germany also has a net negative population growth. Plus, in case you haven't seen, Americans by and large are unhealthy, fat, don't walk, don't workout, eat terribly, etc. That's not a result of poor healthcare; that's a result of lazy Americans.

      Few failures? France is okay? Where in the world do you get your information. France is doing terribly financially, and it's because they have killed the will of the people so much they can't get enough people to work to pay taxes. People need to go out and buy healthcare. It's that simple. If we want a foot doctor to be paying for our feet issues, we should be paying for it.

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    4. There is more than one way to skin a cat. Because it may not be 'working' (whatever that means) in one place doesn't mean the idea itself is flawed but perhaps the implementation.

      I disagree that we shouldn't subsidize anyone. I think subsidies completely necessary to a degree but like with many other things, the government has a habit of abusing such power of the purse.

      I am quite aware of margins and every industry has a different standard of expected return. I also understand that the oil companies, generally though OPEC, set the market by determining output. I also understand that speculators play a big part in the cost of oil.

      Again, many ways to skin a cat. Don't get caught up in a 'one way to do things' mentality.

      In my opinion, you cannot be the 'greatest/strongest nation in the world' and have people dying of treatable forms of cancer because they worked at McD's and couldn't afford health insurance (a hypothetical example as far as I know). But, I'd imagine you'd disagree with me on that opinion.

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    5. Please don't tie emotion into your argument: In my opinion, you cannot be the 'greatest/strongest nation in the world' and have people dying of treatable forms of cancer because they worked at McD's and couldn't afford health insurance (a hypothetical example as far as I know). But, I'd imagine you'd disagree with me on that opinion.

      Why is that person at McDonalds? Maybe it's his own doing?

      Maybe while others were out working hard, getting educations to make themselves marketable to an employer that offered health insurance, he was slacking. The easiest way to resolve this:

      - Mr. McDonalds worker can work hard, get an education, learn a trade, whatever is necessary to put himself in a marketable position to be wanted by a good company
      - Mr. Mcdonalds worker can pay for his own health care
      - If Mr. Mcdonalds can't maybe he should eat better.

      It's on HIM. Work hard, get an education, earn good money and you have nothing to worry about. IF it was a game of chance, if people couldn't control their own fate, then yes, universal healthcare is the key. But people make choices. With good choices comes better homes, pools, cars, money, and services like healthcare coverage. With bad choices comes bad consequences. So, the final word comes down to, he should be working hard, just like many, many other Americans did if he was so worried about healthcare.

      I know I did. It scares me to death that I would be left with some kind of illness and no way to pay for it. How do I handle it? I take personal responsibility to ensure (MS in EE, always in demand, worked my ass off to go to a good school to get this, took out loans, worked 3 jobs) I will ALWAYS have healthcare coverage. Now you want me to cover someone else's because he didn't try as hard as me?

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    6. esaucarin93 -

      You appear to make the assumption that all people are created equal and share the benefit of equal opportunity. That is simply a false premise.

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    7. Personal choices are personal choices. Most people are very close in abilities and intelligence; some choose to use that, exercise that, and make it better. Some don't.

      By your comment, you imply that a certain child or young adult has no chance of becoming a doctor because, well... he is screwed? Come on.

      Now, assuming that IS the case... and it might just be. Fine. That's what charity is for. We do not need the government taking from me and you and giving it to the less fortunate (and by less fortunate I do not mean poor people who made bad choices, I mean the not-created-equal type describe) in a forced charity initiative. I have no problem with charity; I do have a problem with redistribution.

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    8. not sure where you get that implication from. anybody with proper ability should be able to be a doctor (the real problem with becoming a doctor in this country is lack of med schools). but to say that people are of even close ability is ridiculous. I could never be a teacher as an example but I do quite well developing real estate. My wife is a teacher who could never develop real estate. Are either of us stupid? no. She trained as a teacher and I in real estate so we have individual skill sets. We don't live in a one size fits all society. Not everyone is you either in ability of life circumstance and to ascribe the 'lazy' label to anyone less fortunate than yourself is, at best, naive.

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    9. Cuba as a nation is doing rather abysmal, yes, but their healthcare system has still had great success for the country despite its troubles overall. The statistics speak to that favor, and if you don't like Cuba there are plenty of other better examples of successful implementations in successful areas (Switz, Denmark, Taiwan, etc).

      Seems you agree with me that comparing Universal Healthcare between vastly different situations, methods, and countries is apples to oranges? You practically stated just as much in your post, which again goes back to my main point that a few examples of struggles/failure don't guarantee it would struggle/fail for everyone.

      France isn't doing terrible financially, but it seems you're changing what base of relativity you're judging them by? Relative to perfection, just about every country is doing absolutely terrible financially (even us). France certainly in particular. But relative to the European Union, France is doing well. And relative to the rest of the world, France is about average to lower average.

      More importantly:

      In your reply to Whatsmattausa, the flaw in our system is exactly what you said it isn’t. Life IS a game of chance. Hard work is certainly a key to success, but luck has a major factor as well.

      It's not a perfect world where hard work is always guaranteed success.

      What do you say to the person who worked hard his entire life, only to be diagnosed with cancer and kicked off of insurance? If it bankrupts them to the point of homelessness/death, did they not work hard enough? What of someone with a genetic birth defect? Or paralyzed by a drunk driver? Or someone that lost their home to unexpected floods/tornadoes? Or just happened to work at the wrong company that went out of business?

      Luck plays into health and success a great deal, and no amount of hard work can completely eliminate that.

      I don’t understand how that’s debatable at all?

      You even said yourself if luck played a significant factor, universal coverage would be the best avenue. Do you not believe luck has any influence?

      Delete
  7. If you want health care go buy it.

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  8. I am a medical student with a Master of Health Administration degree. I can say this, without a doubt - both sides, top to bottom, are dead wrong about health care.

    Democrats - Insurance isn't/has never been the problem. It's merely the most politically exploitable way to get votes, as insurance premiums are the only cost interface between patients and hospitals. If insurance is expensive, it's the insurance company's fault, right? Surely not the $25 cotton balls and $20,000 MRI scans that the hospital billed. The fundamental problem with this health care law is that it's like putting a bandaid on a broken leg. It fixes a problem that doesn't exist, thereby increasing the likelihood that the main problem (a complete oligopoly of price controls within the provider marketplace) will continue.

    Republicans - We -currently- have the most expensive health care system in the world. Per capita. And not by a little, but by nearly double or triple the rest of the civilized world. From a cost to benefit ratio, the US not even average. It's below average. And it's because you're lying to yourself every time you say "we have the best system in the world" and "we have free choice". We absolutely do not have either of those. We have the most restrictive, least accessible health care system in nearly the entire developed world. I would know, I WORK in it every day. A true fiscal conservative would immediately recognize that we need a radical change in hospital and provider regulations if we are to have any hope of changing course.

    The bottom line is that neither of you actually care about health care. You've turned one of the most important humanitarian fields into a political game.

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    1. I think it's a bit disingenuous to categorize this issue absolutely by party affiliation. I've seen Democrats argue just the same points that you have, and likewise I've seen Republicans argue the same as well.

      And I think it's actually pretty well agreed upon on both sides that many of your points are significant parts of the problem. Our costs are astronomical, the costs/benefit ratio is abysmal, and it takes more than just insurance company regulation to solve the problem.

      The issue comes down more to a public system vs a free market system, as it typically does on these issues between parties.

      Many democrats essentially believe universal healthcare is the solution, and many Republicans instead favor a completely free market healthcare system. And the advantages/disadvantages of each plan are debated ad absurdum regarding which trade-offs are most significant (public vs private, more taxes vs more premiums, option vs no option). The result of the impasse is the ACA, which accomplishes neither, isn’t exactly what either party wants, and does little to solve the problem (which again, I think most of that is agreed upon).

      But the politically charged vitriol of the situation forces the oversimplification of this issue on both sides in the media.

      That said, it would be wrong to imply that tighter regulations on insurance company profits wouldn't lower the cost of insurance at all. Does it solve the problem? No, of course not, and I don't think anyone has seriously made that implication. But the fact of the matter is that forcing insurance companies to put forth 80% of the premium they collect towards the actual healthcare costs (or rebate the difference) will lower premiums, when they typically only apply half of the premium collected towards it.

      As far as the over-inflated costs (such as the $25 cotton balls), as I’m sure you know part of the reason for those overinflated costs are from the hospitals having to make up for the money lost on people that never pay their bills (whether due to no insurance, negligence, or whatever). By mandating insurance, this problem is at the very least partially addressed. Not solved, not eliminated, but it is related.

      I’d be curious to hear what your idea would be in solving the problem?

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  9. From CNN: "Those who don't participate in health care make it more expensive for everyone else," said Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in support of the law. "It is not your free choice" to stay out of the market for life, she said."

    This is absolute horseshit. The job of the court is not to determine what is economically beneficial or harmful. It's to determine what's legal and constitutional. If Ruth keeps this up, she might as well be in the Congress. She is completely muddying the lines of checks and balances. The function of the SCOTUS is to interpret the law, not make economic policy!

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  10. Good evening everyone.

    The commerce clause: "The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

    ....

    To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;"

    ~obtained from http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/constitution_transcript.html

    Notice how it mentions regulating commerce with foreign nations...Can we force a foreign nation to buy a product? NO! Can we force a foreign nation to sell us a product? NO!

    That alone indicates that regulation of commerce was never meant to include forcing a product on us.

    If more of the Supreme Court were looking at this issue from the perspective of what does the Constitution say.....This debate would already be over. Thoughts?

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    1. Well, not that I support it either way, but from what I've seen of the proceedings thus far is that they're attempting to say that healthcare isn't a program you simply choose whether or not to participate in, as everyone needs and participates in it sooner or later.

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    2. Even if that is the case, to me, it's scary that the gov't can just say, "well, you're going to be in it..." Regardless of how true it is, I don't like the government being able to tell people that yes, you will be in this market. The government becoming more and more powerful, and more of a determiner of the paths of people's lives is scary.

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