Monday, October 5, 2009

Universal Health Insurance

If we really want universal health insurance then we can easily acheive it. I can personally grant every American health insurance right now. It covers anyone at all, there are no restrictions against pre-existing conditions, it is free, it covers anything the doctor and patient want done, and patients can go to any doctor they want. The key is that the plan reimburses the doctor $1 for each patient he sees during the year. So, now EVERYONE has insurance and the problem is solved.
Obviously not. All the talk about the uninsured and the need for insurance reform misses the point that it is health care and not health insurance that matters. No one dies from a lack of insurance, despite the headlines on a recent report, they die from not receiving medical care. There is a difference between health insurance and health care and people would be wise to understand the difference before making reforms.
If doctors won't treat people covered under the insurance plan then no one receives any health care. The government could FORCE doctors to accept patients, which is already occuring with Medicare reimbursement guidelines and will only increase under proposed reforms. The problem with this is that it will lead to a serious shortage of doctors. We alreay have severe shortages in nurses and general practitioners in part due to the reimbursement schedule.
Besides, it is wrong to FORCE doctors to treat patients. Of course, it is equally wrong to FORCE someone else to pay the doctor to treat patients. In both cases, someone is being forced to work without compensation. In one case the doctor is forced to treat patients, in the other case someone is forced to work for free as his wages go to the government in the form of taxes and ultimately to doctors. If you pay 35% of your income in taxes, then you are being forced to work for free 35% of the time.
A fairer system would involve voluntary exchange and would not have to involve government at all. A non-profit health insurance company could be set up that would accept any and all patients and the health care costs would be funded through tax-deductible contributions. If the American public does indeed care about the uninsured and wants to provide health care to everybody, then this is the way to do it.
Will this work any better than my first insurance plan? Probably not. This whole debate isn't about providing health care, it is about power. It is about making someone else do something that people are not willing to do themselves.

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