"The true gentleman is friendly, but not familiar." - CONFUCIUS

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Comparing the Republican & Democrat Health Plans

YEP, APPARENTLY THE REPUBLICANS HAVE ONE TOO. I bumped into one at the free clinic last week (my new significant is a real ballbreaker) and he had just enough time to hip me before the nurse called him in for his boosters. Apparently I’m the only writer in the world who knows it exists, which is where he started whining about nobody listening to Republicans because they’re the house minority or something, I kinda tuned him out around that part. Anyway, after extensive googling and two Facebook breaks, I found links to both the Republican and the Democrat healthcare plans, and here they are. As always, it’s probably best to apply a ten to fifteen percent Promise Shrinkage Ratio to both plans, since politicians did write them, after all.

THE REPUBLICAN PLAN. http://www.cbsnews.com/htdocs/pdf/GOPHealthPlan_061709.pdf?tag=contentMain;contentBody

Well, it’s written by a man named Roy Blunt, which is a definite score for them. It discusses financial rewards from employers and insurers to employees who keep their weight down, stop smoking, etc. And that’s about all the pluses I see here. Allowing young people to qualify as dependents until age 25 so they can stay on their parents’ plans, andoffering tax credits to businesses who offer health insurance to their employees are the only other plans that sound like... plans, and the Democrat version includes both of those suggestions and a bunch more. The rest of this document is composed of a bunch of bullet points stuffed with ambiguous phrases like “added flexibility”, “extra incentive” and “additional resources”, along with the usual Republican cure-all of lowering taxes. I’d love to say that there are two good American healthcare plans out there instead of just one, but Mr Blunt’s contribution seems vague, simplistic and, most worryingly, short. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the Republicans had no plan for reforming healthcare until the Dems made a national issue out of it, and the one they do have now ain’t much. You can’t help but feel that the Pubs as a party don’t think there’s much wrong with healthcare in America today.

THE DEMOCRAT PLAN. http://www.barackobama.com/pdf/issues/HealthCareFullPlan.pdf

Full insurer-patient transparency, i.e. full breakdowns of everything from what your operation really costs them to how many people have acquired infections in the hospital you’re in. Digitizing all health records. Requiring health coverage for children. Requiring insurers to cover people with pre-existing conditions. Lifting the 2003 ban that prohibits the government from negotiating medicine prices with manufacturers. Investing into continuous support programs for chronic diseases, rather then just dealing with them when they flare up. The list goes on. The Dems don’t have a concrete solution for increasing competition between insurers, but at least they’re addressing it. The Dems’ is simply a more comprehensive plan which offers feasible solutions for problems that, to read the Republican plan, aren’t even problems.

My take? Tax us more and get us all covered. Law, order and security, a.k.a. police and the court system, are basic built-in requirements of a civilized society, and healthcare is too. ‘Death panels’ already exist, so that’s a non-issue. We all know people who have been refused treatment by their insurance companies. Besides, I’m tired of choosing and re-enrolling in a new health plan three times every year because I can’t pay my bill one month. You take money out of my pocket every spring to study Moon craters; take some of that money and give little Timmy his kidney transplant already, and spare his parents a hernia and another bill.

And the bottom line is that, yes, a lot of Americans are stupid. If (and this is not a small 'if') I have $100 left over after paying all my bills, I’m gonna spend it on dinner and a movie, not health insurance. We’re consumers. That’s how you made us, and that’s how you got rich. Does that mean we deserve to die on a waiting room floor? We know the American economy runs on suckers. It’s our God-given right, and sometimes it seems like our patriotic duty, to be stupid and OD on Coke and Big Macs and Benson & Hedges so that the terrorists don’t win, or something. Capitalism says there’s nothing wrong with separating an idiot from his money, and there’s nothing wrong with watching that broke idiot die over some minor health problem either. Capitalism raised a nation of people who tend to make bad choices, but it feels no duty to take care of them.

Residents of the richest country in the world are flying to India for medical operations. If that isn’t a bad sign, I don’t know what is.