[ Tuesday, July 17, 2007 ]


Off-Topic, But Interesting: If you've been following any of the healthcare reform debate, you know that some of the proposals (including the Wyden one I keep getting emailed on) focus on improving access to health insurance. The Wall Street Journal just editorialized today (subscription only, sorry) about tax deductibility for health insurance premiums. The Wyden bill actually requires all individuals to buy health insurance (not sure how that will work for those who affirmatively choose not to be insured). In my opinion, a large contingent of those without insurance "can't afford" it because they choose to spend their money elsewhere. In the vernacular of the old Las Vegas joke, "they got gamblin' money." New cars, family vacations, dining out, cable TV, air conditioning, whatever, there are good and important things for folks to spend money on, and they elect to spend it on those positively enjoyable things and not on something as mundane and (in most cases) unneeded as health insurance.

According to a Rand survey, I may be right. Reducing health insurance premiums by as much as 50% will only result in a 3% drop in the number of uninsured in America. So, it's not price, is it? This would seem to lend credence to the importance of the Wyden bill's requirement that Americans buy health insurance -- even at a deep discount, the uninsured won't voluntarily choose to be insured.

(Note: Even though I obviously practice in the healthcare field, and it's near and dear to my heart, I'm suspicious about all the Jeremiads I hear that there's a healthcare "crisis" or that the American public is clamoring for a "cure" to said crisis. Generally, the fact that something ranks really high with the American public as a big electoral issue doesn't mean that it's an important issue, other than in a relative sense. In the early '90s , the American public ranked healthcare as a very important issue, a crisis to be solved. Obviously, nothing much was done, and we've managed to get through about 15 years since then running on the same crisis. When an issue rises to the top tier of "concerns" of the American public, it could mean that it's a big concern, or it could mean that there aren't really too many other concerns, so that slight concerns become top-tier concerns. Back in the early '90s, the economy was chugging along, the Cold War was over, there wasn't too much going on in foreign affairs (although you could say that was an iceberg we ran into), so American attention turned to lesser matters, like healthcare. We're in the same situation now: there's one big problem, Islamofascism, that doesn't have any easy answers. Some factions will fight over how to deal with that, but those that don't want to waste their political capital on that fight will turn to something else that they can put their stamp on. Healthcare is one of those lower priorities that isn't a huge deal, but is top tier simply because there's nothing much else. At least that's my take.)

Jeff [10:20 AM]

Sorry Jeff, I have to disagree on this one. Outside of my day job as the Most Handsome HIPAA Guy on the Net my wife and I run a food bank. Most people have no idea the struggle a substantial portion of our population, even in affluent areas like the one we live in, are stuggling with making anything more than a basic living. In this country it is difficult to starve, but for increasing numbers of people any form of health insurance is out of the questions. Reducing it by 50% wouldn't make it any more affordable, as they truly do lack the resources. If you finish each month 50 bucks short of making it, reducing healthcare premioums from $600 a month to $300 would still mean that it is unobtainable.
There is amazing surpluses in this country, of food, clothing, household goods and such. Most lower income people are good at scrounging that sort of thing. Scrounging enough money for a coloscopy is a different thing.

Man, looking back I see it has been a really long time since I posted here! Congratulations on 1000 posts!
Wow! Preview is my friend! This has to be the most typo-ridden post I have ever made.
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