Health Care Reform

I could give chapter and verse on how rotten I believe health care is in this country.  I had the devil’s own time getting health insurance when I went into business for myself, and the premiums went up about 20% when the policy renewed this spring.  Hospitals are most unpleasant places; most of them seem to run on the ragged edge of malpractice.

And the price of all this rottenness?  Governments (Federal, State, and local) in the US collectively spend more per capita than in countries with ‘socialized medicine.’  Private payers spend again as much: in total, we spend more than twice as much per capita on health care than in other industrialized countries.

And the cost goes up and up, faster than the general rate of inflation.  My insurance company isn’t raising my premium by 20% to tick me off: they do it because their costs went up similarly.

This is the ‘unsustainable’ condition that President Obama is warning us about in his efforts for ‘health care reform.’  Unchecked, the costs will upend government budgets, and indeed the private economy as well.

Last night, Our Fearless Leader addressed the nation to address the issue.  He sounded all the right notes, but one thing troubles me:

The President noted that we pay more for health care than in other countries, and that lowering health care costs is a key goal.  He then asserted that two-thirds of the cost of health care reform is what is currently being paid in the existing system, and that one-third will have to come from cost savings or taxes or some other new funding.

So he’s contemplating a 50% increase in expenditures.

How, exactly, is this a savings?

Unfortunately, a real solution to this problem necessarily involves limiting the actual cost of health care, and nothing in the current plans seems to do more than nibble around the edges.

The problem is that the current system is an immense self-licking ice cream cone, and there are are politicial constituencies that earn their living from it.  Until an effort is made to actually contain costs, and not just find newer and cleverer ways to fund them, we’re still stuck.

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