If you vote Republican, you’ve probably bought into what could be called, the greatest snake oil healthcare scam of all time. It goes something like this:
Step right up, voters, and get your amazing new healthcare plan. Not only will it be cheaper and better, it’ll be so amazing you’ll think it’s too good to be true.
Of course, well-trained, and thoroughly misinformed Republican voters have been sold on a system that the rest of the world already knows won’t work. Not now. Not ever.
Nicholas Kristof writes in the New York Times,
All health care reform efforts — whether Obamacare or Trumpcare — struggle with the unwieldiness and inefficiency of the existing architecture, built on employer-provided coverage….
But ultimately the United States should follow the example of every other advanced country and ensure health coverage for all.
Mr. Kristof gets it mostly right. An employer-based health insurance system is a patchwork of confusion and inefficiency. What he doesn’t mention is the abysmal failure of a healthcare system based on insurance company profits, Big Pharma profits, and service provider profits.
When doctors and hospitals profit by doing more than what’s needed, and insurance companies make money by denying payment for what really is needed, it’s not hard to see that the fundamental forces of the U.S. healthcare system are at odds with each other. The patient often comes out on the losing end when it comes to getting the best care, and ends up being little more than a vehicle for transferring money.
Medicare solves at least part of the profit incentive problem since it’s essentially a health insurance policy sold by a non-profit organization, namely, the U.S. government. However, it’s only offered to some Americans.
Republicans don’t like Medicare, partly because it’s funded by income taxes, and partly because they believe that access to healthcare is a privilege for the affluent, not a basic human right that should be provided by the government. They also don’t support stopping corporate America from doing anything it wants in the pursuit of profits. Those are economic and moral issues that could also be considered at odds with each other, depending on your alignment on the political aisle.
Over the years, Republicans have done a fine job of convincing people that everything the government does, apart from feeding the insatiable appetite of military contractors, is bad. That includes healthcare. However, there’s much less chance that the average America will die if the Pentagon spends $800 on a hammer, than if they can’t get to a doctor when they need one.
An America with a good job that offers a health insurance plan, might not care if children and people who can’t work don’t get healthcare. But they should. Consider the fact that an employer-based health insurance system adds a lot to the cost of doing business. If the government covered it through a simple payroll deduction, as it already does for Medicare, employers could spend that money elsewhere, perhaps even on pay raises.
Since there are so many drug and insurance companies making billions on the current, profit-based, employer-based system, politicians use spin to cover their moral shortcomings. More simply put, they mislead, misconstrue, or outright lie to the people who elected them. On the campaign trail, they sell them snake oil. And as long as voters keep buying it, they’ll keep waiting for a cure that was never intended to come.
While the Republican plan to repeal Obamacare hangs over Washington like a putrid cloud, the case for adding a Medicare buy-in public option to the private health insurance market is more viable and more logical than ever. Republicans would be wise to embrace it, because it solves the problem of insurance access in states that have pulled out of the Obamacare exchanges, and because as an option, it does not ‘force’ anyone to buy into a government plan.
Of course, a Republican’s greatest fear is that people would flock to the Medicare buy-in public option because it’s a better deal. Greedy, private insurers, unwilling to give up a dollar of their obscene profits, would slowly be driving out of the health insurance business. That’s good for everyone, except the Republicans exposed as the snake oil salesmen they really are.
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