Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Let Me Fix…

Good Morning folks!  I’d like to fix heath care.  Mind if I take a stab at it?  Sure?  Cool!

So clearly the most contentious subject of public debate right now are the current proposed changes to our nation’s health care system.   I’ll admit, that I have not bothered to research the proposals that ether the Democrats or Republicans are offering up for us.  I don’t have an opinion on those plans.  I don’t want to have one.  Whatever ether side is proposing, I am sure that they are going about things all wrong.   Allow me to present the Mark Beers Health Care Plan.   I am not saying that what I propose is actually the best solution, but it sure as hell makes sense to me.  I’m not an economist, so my logic may be off line, and if it is I’d love to hear your feed back as to where my reasoning is flawed.

The Mark Beers Heath Care Plan

I think that there are very few  individuals out there who would say, that our current system of health care does not have gross deficiencies.  A good portion of our population repeatedly find themselves in situations where they are unable to gain access to the medical care that might be able to improve the quality of their lives at a cost that will not cause them tremendous financial hardships.  This is a problem, that as a nation should concern us.   I think the error that seams to be cropping up in the logic of the current political debate centers around the argument of what aspect of heath care should be a right extended to all American citizens.   I think the right that our politicians should be arguing about is not to ensure that all Americans have the right to heath care, but instead that all Americans should have the right to have access to heath care.   This I feel is one of the most important distinctions of this debate.   Allow me to explain.

Ensuring that all American’s have access to affordable health care should be what our elected leaders are striving for.   Here, is how I think it should be done.   Under our present health care system you basically have two options by which one can obtain heath insurance.  You can be fortunate enough to have employment that provides you with access to insurance as a benefit of your employment, or you can seek insurance coverage on your own through an existing insurance provider privately.  Ultimately of those two options, the first option is the most appealing in terms of personal cost due to the nature of the distributed cost of your plan through your employer.  As far as I understand, due to my employer’s participation in a group plan through a heath insurance provider, my monthly premium for coverage is set at a manageable rate due to the existence of the other members of my plan who all collectively contribute to the over all cost of our health insurance plan.   With this model in mind, it would seam to me that a system is currently in place that can help to resolve our current dilemma of accessible health care for all Americans.   The system that I speak of is the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.  (This is a good article about the FEHBP.) The FEHBP is the medical insurance plan that currently is responsible for providing the health care to most federal employees, including members of Congress, The President and postal workers to name a few.   By all accounts, this is an insurance plan that delivers excellent benefits to the federal employees enrolled in it.   My question, is why is it not possible to extend the opportunity to participate in this program to any and all Americans willing to enroll in it? 

Extending enrollment opportunities to any interested Americans to me feels like an excellent solution to the desire to ensure that heath care can be accessible to any party that would want it.   To put it plainly, I think that if our nation wants to solve it’s healthcare problem it should go into the health insurance business.   Now follow my logic here.  If the health insurance I currently receive from my employer costs what it does, because the cost of my plan is distributed across the membership base of our group plan it stands to reason, that were you to expand the scope of your membership base the costs of that distributed insurance would go down.  Now, lets take that model and expand upon it on a national level.  So when considering the cost of medical insurance we are dividing the insurance plan costs across numbers in magnitude relating to the population of the entire United States that have also enrolled in the plan.  Working at that scale would at least feel to me to point toward a premium rate that should be manageable for a great deal of Americans.   Is my logic flawed here?

One of the strongest arguments that I hear from conservative individuals when relating to health care is that they express the fear that we will be providing benefits and spending tax payer money to insure “undesirable” elements of our society.   I think that both sides of the debate need to relinquish this argument.   I feel that universal enrollment eligibility would go a long way toward resolving this concern.   Remember, the goal here should not be to give everyone health care.  It should be to make it accessible to as many citizens as possible.    If you want to have health insurance under this plan.  You are going to be paying for it.   Will that lead to portions of the population being uninsured?  Yes, sadly it will.   However, remember the goal is to provide access to as wide a segment of the population as possible.   If you make enrollment to this plan universal, but not compulsory you resolve much of this argument.  If you do not have insurance but want it here is your way to get it.  Do you like your employer provided or private insurance plan fine?  You are under no pressure to change what you currently have, unless you feel it may be more advantageous for you and your family to do so.

Realizing that the Health Insurance Industry is in fact an industry is important here.   No one will deny that medical care is expensive.   However, in spite of this fact insurance companies seam to do alright in terms of revenue.   What is wrong with the government starting their own insurance company and providing the existing insurance structure with some real competition.  Last I checked, we were a free market economy and by that extension subject to laws of supply and demand.  I can’t help but assume that part of the reason that insurance companies are able to charge the rates that they do is because they have little competition or incentive to make their rates competitive.   A national health insurance policy certainly feels like a good way to inspire some competition in the industry which can only serve to benefit the consumer, as now the existing providers must weigh their practices and procedures against their largest competition.  If they are unable to do so they would risk the defection of their current client base to other providers or  The Nation Insurance Plan.

If there is a huge concern and road block that I foresee with the idea of extending a National Plan out of the FEHBP it would be in the need to expand the beurocracy needed to administer such a plan.   That would take a considerable investment to meet the start up costs of that project.  However, it may not be as bad as one might fear.  Since the EFHBP currently administers benefits across the country already, the frame work to expand upon would already be in place.  It would of course need to be expanded to meet the increased needs of the larger user base.   You would need more workers to do the administrative work.   Last time I checked, we were looking for ways to make jobs in this country anyway. 

So these are my thoughts on health care.  What do you think?  Am I way off base here?  I seriously wrote this because it makes sense to me, and I wanted to put it out there for discussion.   I welcome your response.  Maybe I’ll start a series of articles about how I would fix things.  What would you want me to fix next?


Greg said...

You're pretty close to the house bill (the "public option" one) going around right now for the tune of about $987 billion. There are references to studies that show that such an option would actually reduce our deficit, but I haven't seen the details of these studies and therefore I can't explain how.

Conservative reticence (the non crazy kind) comes not from a lack of desire to insure "undesirables" but a desire to keep spending and taxpayer burden to a minimum, as well as an economic belief that the healthiest kind of market is laissez-faire. If the above referenced studies were more widely publicized for scrutinization, it might go a long way toward bringing around those who are willing to listen to reason.

Whether or not there are any folks in Congress who are truly willing to cross party lines even in such an event remains to be seen. I'm a little cynical and believe there are too many who will color and obfuscate the truth to satisfy their special interests as well as an overall campaign to reduce the effectiveness and power of the commander in chief.

Anonymous said...

I want you to fix the Federal Student Loan program.