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Political Talk Show Host and Internet Radio Personality. My show, In My Humble Opinion, aired on RainbowRadio from 2015-2017.
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Saturday, September 12, 2009
Some of the more sticky questions about my health care plan...
So here goes.
Why should abortion be covered? You say you don't cover other voluntary procedures, why cover abortion? Isn't abortion a 'voluntary procedure'?
First off, let me say that if you feel abortion is IMMORAL, I'm with you! The thing is... so are most liberals and pro-lifers! MORALITY isn't the really key issue here, it's LEGALITY. And the difference between a liberal (like me) and a pro-lifer is that while I BELIEVE (meaning, IN MY OPINION) that abortion is immoral, I DO NOT feel the need to infect my opinion onto anyone else. If you don't like abortions? DON'T HAVE ONE. No one will ever force you to and whatever anyone else does is none of your business to tell them one way or the other.
Second... There is more to excluding voluntary procedures than just the fact that they're voluntary. It's also because they're EXPENSIVE and there's no reason anyone else should have pay for them! The alternative to having a boob-job is NOT having one: Which costs nothing. The alternative to abortion is BIRTH, which always costs MORE. I'm not begrudging those who wish to have children (another voluntary decision, mind you!) BIRTH will always be fully covered, but if a person wants to ASK LESS of the system by terminating the pregnancy early, as long as the procedure remains legal there is no rational reason not to do this! (Fair enough: If you managed to OUTLAW it, it won't be covered. Of course, in theory, it won't be PERFORMED either, so the question of coverage is moot either way.
Which brings me to the next part of the question:
What if I don't want to subsidize someone else getting one?
This is just stupid for many reasons. First of all, if you currently buy private insurance, chances are you're already doing this. You are not paying for anything other than YOUR COVERAGE and YOUR FAMILY'S. So mind your own business and stop worrying about the choices other people make with theirs! And again, we can't have individuals deciding what they do and don't want to cover for themselves, or you lose all the benefits of risk pooling - which is how our CURRENT SYSTEM works! I'm sure 90% of AIDS patients didn't think they'd ever get AIDS, and thus may have been tempted to exclude AIDS coverage if they could save a few bucks a months. And while SOME may have changed their behaviors, most would still eventually get the disease. (And where would THAT leave them now?)You can't have people estimating their own chances of getting something. That's what insurance companies are for and they have thousands of experts crunching reams of data all day long to figure it out. So let THEM figure that out. Just take you gold-star, universal coverage and stop whining about it!
This same line of reasoning, BTW, applies to pharmacists who refuse to fill prescriptions for birth-control pills (for example) for religious reasons. This is BULLSHIT. Anyone pharmacist who refuse to fill a doctors prescription for moral reason should lose their license and business. PERIOD. Why, you ask? What about respecting people's beliefs, you ask? Again, BULLSHIT. If you're Catholic (for example) and you believe the use of birth control is a sin, then YOU can't use, and YOU can't be partners with someone else who does! The Catholic Church's prohibition of contraception DOES NOT (and by the First Ammendment to the Constitution, CAN NOT) APPLY to non-Catholics, and isn't observed by 99% of practicing Catholics anyway! A pharmacist refusing to let SOMEONE ELSE use contraception is nothing more than him or her forcing their religious beliefs onto another person. Someone else's sin is not theirs and don't give me any hogwash about enabling it, either. What's next? Holding gun manufacturer's responsible for every murder that's committed? Not THIS liberal!
Why do we even need this? What wrong with the FREE MARKET setting the price? Wont this lead to RATIONING?
First things last. The 'free market' IS a system of rationing. That what market forces DO. They give resources to those willing (and able) to pay the marker price for a given good or service. Those that aren't willing (or able) to pay DON'T GET the good or service. And the volume available (supply) is only a function of the market price. It is not a function of actual need - the opposite in fact, the more something is needed, the HIGHER the price. In this way the free market serves to ration EVERYTHING.
And that is EXACTLY why it's a lousy way to manage HEALTH CARE: Because the demand curve for health care is essentially flat. Here's what that means in English: Let's say a bag of Doritos cost $100. What would happen? First of all, a WHOLE LOT of people would start making Doritos! But who would pay that much when POTATO CHIPS still cost $1? You see? There a diminished demand for certain goods at higher prices because I have COMPETING CHOICES. And thus the price is kept low, to compete with those alternatives. If I can't afford a Mercedes, I can buy a Chevy. If I can't afford a house, I can rent an apartment. If I can't afford fillet, I can buy chuck.
But if I can't afford chemo... (and I'll give you a clue: nobody can)... then I DIE.
Now, death may be the low-cost alternative to most health care procedures, but it's not one I'm ever likely to choose, is it? It's basically not an acceptable alternative for anyone. So HOW MUCH will your triple-bypass cost? Well... How much do you have?! Since I know that you won't go without, and I know that there's no competing alternatives, there's nothing to reign in my cost. 'Give me all you got and more!' is therefore the only answer one can expect from a free market. (Thankfully, most hospitals are non-profits entities!)
AND not only is the demand curve FLAT, but the SUPPLY curve is unique as well. You see, the supply of oil, potato chips, cars or beef can fluctuate. If demand for something goes UP, we can usually just make more. But the number of DOCTORS we have at any time doesn't really go up with demand, because doctors come from MEDICAL SCHOOLS and med schools take only a very small percentage of applicants. And medical fellowhips (needed for specialties) only take a small percentage of applicants from that pool! And they're not about to lower their standards just because doctors salaries have gone up and more people want to be doctors. So we can't really allow the supply to fluctuate like a regular commodity does, because it takes to long to increase the supply!
What about the unemployed? Or illegals aliens? Why should I pay for them?
First off, you already are. The unemployed already get coverage: Medicaid. And you already pay for that. You still will, but in a less dysfunctional system. You also already subsidize the UNINSURED (which includes illegal aliens) in exactly the way I've already described. SO get over it. Better they get GOOD TREATMENT that costs everyone LESS than get lousy treatment that costs everyone more.
And we REALLY don't want hospitals to put off treatment until they verify legal status, do we? Imagine you've had a stroke or heart attack. Every second counts. Do you really want there to be ANY possibility that your treatment is delayed? That could be fatal! So, just as they are now, hospitals will treat their patients according to medical need, NO QUESTIONS ASKED. They don't have to worry: THEY'LL GET PAID. And is there really any benefit to saying, "Sorry, that guy was an illegal, so we won't pay you for treating him?" NO! Now we're right back to the hospitals baking in unreimbursed expenses, just as they do now, and WE END UP PAYING ANYWAY!!! So get over it. There's no way to avoid it without screwing everything up with red tape and you won't save a single penny anyway!
JUST TAKE YOUR UNIVERSAL COVERAGE AND STOP WHINING!!!
BTW, this is one of my pet peeves with conservatives on a lot of things... They're always more concerned about making sure that the WRONG PEOPLE (whoever they are) don't benefit, than they are are making sure that the RIGHT PEOPLE (whoever they are) don't get hurt. In this case, they'd create a whole system of gov't bureaucracy that will end up killing someone who was entitled to care just to stop someone who isn't from receiving it. Not only is this a senseless trade off, going against the very conservative Principal of limited gov't and making the conservative's fear of a gov't bureaucrat getting between you and your health care a reality, but WHAT IS SO WRONG with saving a life?! Why should the HOSPITAL get punished, by not being paid for services rendered (and costs incurred,) just because they saved the wrong person's life. That's just... psychotic. So get over your xenophobia, conservatives. And besides, there's no reason that the Mexicans would flood over our borders just to get free health care... THEY ALREADY GET PUBLIC HEALTH IN MEXICO!
SO let me knwo if you have any other questions. I'll do my best to satisfy you. I've spent a lot of time thinking about this from many different angles, and I'm confident it's the best way to go. So I'll take all comers!
Now let me have it!