Health Care Reform: yet another perspective

The passing of the health care bill in the House and subsequent signing by President Obama has predictably generated a lot of chatter. Including this post, I suppose, in which I hope to present a viewpoint that differs from most of the responses I’ve seen so far.

This is part 1 of my response. I originally intended to make this a single blog post, but it turned out to be so lengthy that I’ll need to split it up to keep it readable.

I don’t think there is anyone out there who is truly ecstatic about the present state of U.S. healthcare, so I believe the participants in the great debate fall into two categories: those more or less happy with the current state of affairs (at least, happy enough to believe that the bill should be voted down), and those calling for change.

Basically happy with the current system:

  • Employers, both those who offer groups plans and those who don’t
  • Their employees on employer sponsored group plans (generally through their employer)

Calling for change:

  • Employees whose employers do not offer group plans
  • Individuals considering expensive individual plans
  • Individuals currently on expensive individual plans
  • Individuals denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions and live in a state without a risk pool (or not aware of their state’s risk pool)
  • Small businesses and self-employed individuals who have never heard of PEOs
  • The unemployed
  • The under-employed (e.g. part-timers)
  • People who want to stick it to the corporate fat cats and their shareholders
  • People who want handouts from the guv’mint

Those last two groups really, really should not have any extra sway. Yet they do, due to the willingness of career politicians to play Robin Hood in order to buy votes. Looks like I will have to dedicate a separate post to career politicians.

While there are more groups represented in the second category, the majority of Americans fall into the first. Meaning that it would not be a stretch to label this bill “unpopular.” But U.S. law is not a popularity contest. More on this in a bit.

There are three main reasons I object to the bill passed by the House:

  1. It will likely result in consolidation and reduction of choice, quality and differentiation in the insurance market.
  2. It will guarantee higher taxes and higher premiums for those who currently have health insurance (i.e. yet another instance of penalizing the responsible people who are doing the right thing). Some of the new taxes are written right into the bill, but more will likely be needed as the full cost of this bill becomes evident.
  3. Most importantly, it decreases personal liberty and mounts another attack on our Constitution.

Yes, #3 is the most important. Allow me to digress for a moment. Remember, the United States of America is a constitutional republic. Not a pure democracy. A pure democracy is essentially tyranny of the majority. That is, whatever white, male, lower middle-class, mainland, 100 IQ, Christian city-dwellers want is the law, and that’s that. A constitutional republic protects individuals and minorities through its constitution, a set of inviolable principles.

Thus, while we have certainly veered off track for the past few decades, I believe that the federal government was created to protect individuals’ rights, not take them away.

By the way, yes, I think we all believe we should help our fellow man, but we should each do so with our own two hands, or at least through charities of our own choosing. The government has not proven to be particularly good at making sure money goes where it is supposed to go. Again, I’ll have to continue this aside in another post.

There is a fourth reason I object to the healthcare bill, although it is not unique to this bill. Allow me another brief digression. This was a MONSTER bill containing all kinds of gimmicks, earmarks, special concessions and God knows what else that do not belong in a healthcare bill (or probably any bill, for that matter). Monster bills represent everything that is wrong with our political system. It is so easy to sneak in a provision that would never pass if it had to stand on its own (dubious) merits. It’s hard to avoid the feeling that something sinister is going on somewhere within those thousands of pages.

If Obama really wants me to believe that he’s bringing a new transparency to the legislative process, why wouldn’t he push for concise, easily read and understood bills that do what their title says and nothing more? Wouldn’t it be easier for him to sell a package of small, simple bills? Yet another big topic for another time.

Why do I believe that there will be consolidation and reduction of choice, quality and differentiation in the insurance market? I’ll tell you soon in Part 2, and I’ll even point to a couple parts of the bill I DO like.

I welcome further discussion in the comments!

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