Monday, December 15, 2008

Obama's Healthcare Plan

Obama is a mysterious man. Ever since he started talking about his healthcare plan, I have not really understood what the plan actually is and how it is supposed to help Americans. He has made vague statements about lowering healthcare costs by implementing changes to make medical records electronic, increasing regulation and so on. The overall goal is supposedly to bring “affordable healthcare” to every American. Moreover, this affordable healthcare is supposed to be purchased by individual citizens or companies.

Obama has said that he believes that healthcare is a right. That is a very significant statement, the essence of which every modern country in the world except for The United States has long ago put into practice. The cost saving measures I mentioned above will do absolutely nothing to reach the goal of bringing healthcare to all Americans, for one simple reason:

Everything medical in this country comes with a 15-20% mark-up

That, and that alone is the thing you need to know when trying to compare the American healthcare “system” to that of any other country. If you go to the doctor, or if you need surgery in the hospital in France, Germany, Japan, Canada, Italy, Australia etc, there isn’t anyone slapping on 15-20% at every stage in the process. The mark-up there is usually closer to 0%. In The United States, from the time that you gaze upon the face of the hospital receptionist, to the time when you file for bankruptcy because of high medical bills, private companies have profited from your illness in every conceivable way.

Recently, tangible details about Obama’s future plans for American healthcare have started to leak out. It turns out that the plan is not as lame and useless as it first appeared, but cunning and circumventing in what seems to be the Obama style of doing politics when he’s in charge. It remains to be seen if he will be able to get this through Congress, but, in essence, what Obama wants to do is to create a new healthcare provider that is 100% owned by the government! Obama did mention this during the campaign in small ways, but he certainly did not make a big deal out of it, and now it seems that this is where he aims to put the emphasis. It is a brilliant plan, in that it directly addresses the issue of mark-ups on medicine in general.

Obama has said that he also wants to increase regulation of healthcare providers, define quality of healthcare, and more, but those measures will have very little effect compared to government health insurance that directly competes with private health insurance. Why would anyone buy something with a 20% mark-up if you can buy the same thing with a 0% mark-up?

If the U.S. Government made it so that both individuals and companies could buy high quality healthcare with 0% mark-up, the health insurance companies would be in big trouble very rapidly. If you also couple that with stricter regulation, the health insurance companies would have no choice but to lower premiums, increase coverage or get out of the business. It all hinges upon whether or not Obama would be able to scale up such an insurance enough, so that it would grab a sufficient market share to corner the market. A 0% mark-up health insurance would surely come in handy for a lot of struggling companies right now.

No sane person in this country should defend the health insurance companies. They have tried everything in the book to squeeze as much as they possible can out of sick people while attempting to give them as little care as possible for decades now. What’s left for a health insurance company when they’ve done all that? They support a referendum on assisted suicide in Vermont for one simple reason:

you dead = more profit

1 comment:

Dave Dubya said...

I think Obama's idea is to gradually expand Medicare style coverage to everyone.

He's got a hell of a fight coming from the politicians bought off by the medical/pharma/insurance complex. Overwhelming public support is vital. If the people are educated enough before the corporate propaganda machinery kicks in, Obama could pull it off. I think he learned from the example set in the 90’s by the "Hillary Care" debacle.

The hospital price mark-up is absurdly high. Six dollars for two aspirin tablets is common.