2009 July 15 Wednesday
National Health Insurance Battle Continues In Congress
Employers must medically insure employees or else.
The Senate bill would require most Americans to obtain health insurance and require employers of more than 25 workers to provide coverage or face a $750-per-worker penalty. Insurers could no longer bar people with pre-existing conditions. But, no one with insurance would be required to change insurers.
At the risk of stating the obvious: Some companies will lay off employees in order to get below the 25 worker requirement for paying health care. Also, once people with existing conditions can get medical insurance those without existing conditions will pay more.
On the bright side: This will shift more of the cost of illegal aliens onto the shoulderes of the employers who hire them.
What's another $100 billion per year in a declining empire?
The Senate majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, has said he hopes to have a health care bill on the floor by July 27. That goal appears unrealistic, even though members of the Finance Committee said they were making progress in talks on how to pay for their bill, expected to cost at least $1 trillion over 10 years.
What I most worry about the health care debate: The changes will reduce the incentives for developing newer and better treatments. Which medical treatments do you most need: Those treatments that do not exist yet.
You (or your employer) will pay more in health insurance premiums to provide the US federal government with money to pay for health insurance of poor uninsured people.
Insurance companies should use their profits to help fund as much as $100 billion of a landmark overhaul of the U.S. health-care system, senators including Democrat Charles Schumer of New York said.
That $100 billion cost for national healthcare comes on top of the massive budget deficits already in place.
Millionaires will pay for wider health insurance too.
July 15 (Bloomberg) -- House Democrats plan to fund the broadest U.S. health-care expansion in four decades by increasing taxes on the wealthiest Americans, imposing a surtax of 5.4 percent on couples with more than $1 million in income.
Robin Hood is in charge in the US House of Representatives. Beware Sherwood Forest.
The Democrats, now in charge, are like unsupervised kids in a candy store.
The just -cannot- keep from spending the money the Chinese/Saudis/Russkies/Japanese are lending us.
"You (or your employer) will pay more in health insurance premiums to provide the US federal government with money to pay for health insurance of poor uninsured people."
We are all going to be paying for the health insurance of obese, pack-a-day-smoking, drinking, non-excercising, chronically-inflammatory-sugary-white-floury-refined-carbohydrate-eating, extremely lazy, low-IQ'ed people's insurance, and thus will be having to sit in doctor's offices behind little herds of them on the few occasions we do have to go.
Seemingly unrelated-but not really unrelated when you think about it----: Obama's Climate Bill is basically going to make electricity about twice as expensive for many rural Americans (including farmers, which will drive up food prices) in order to create "Green Jobs" for WHOM? I have a hunch that many people with useless degrees in humanities will somehow be getting these "Green Jobs" as well as other "favored" groups in the Democratic constituencies. I mean really, they are just going to be building windmills and solar disks right? Thats pretty much going to work out like a big tax on people Obama doesn't like to transfer money to people he does like (not all states will pay the same, California gets off about half as cheaply as some mid-American states----cannot compute the fairness in that).
As far as I can see, the health care reform proponents have only a cursory understanding of incentives. More properly, they do not recognize that people change their behaviors in response to changed incentive structures... in unexpected ways.
Some of the big winners will be those the program is designed to benfit, specifically government bureaucracies and those who wield the levers of power. But there will be plenty of other winners and losers. For a while, it will be hard to discern many of them in the jockeying to come. Fairness? Equality of outcome? Universally excellent care? Savings? Meh.
This is an exercise in hubris on a massive scale.
Let's suppose the bill passes more or less intact.
Unless I am mistaken, the bill as it stands does provide coverage to illegal aliens and their children. The Democrats are wetting their pants at this opportunity, because philosophically they don't believe in making distinctions between citizens, non-citizens, and illegal aliens, they also want to be able to play the race card against those nasty Republicans who would deny health insurance to those nice, hard working brown people.
And yes, anything that passes is going to create distortions in the marketplace and peoples' behavior. Even if the government were to impose an outright ban on private medical insurance, people will find ways around it. A black market will spring up overnight - I am sure more than a few doctors would be willing to barter their services or accept cash payment completely off the books. You will see high-end clinics with American doctors and the latest equipment spring up in places like Mexicali or the Bahamas, the latter only a 30 minuite airplane ride from Miami. And what is the government going to do? Create a health insurance police department to make sure that no one is getting care outside the system?
Once the government has taken over the system and imposes strict regulations (they won't be called that, they'll be referred to as "goals"), it's not that difficult to imagine them keeping tabs on how often you seek medical care, where, and for what conditions. Depending on what you're being treated for, a visit with a friendly "counselor" will be a mandatory part of your treatment, so you modify your behaviors and keep the costs of treating you under control (personally, if it comes to that, I think a lot of people will just avoid going to doctors at all and take their chances that their health stays good). Enjoy a nicely marbled ribeye steak now and then? Forget about it - it's not healthy, and besides, cows leave too big a carbon footprint what with all that methane they expel.
This whole economic mess reminds me of a WW II submarine movie, where the boat has just taken a pounding from enemy depth charges. The captain barks out orders and the crew frantically twists wheels and levers, but the camera just focuses on the depth gauge as the boat keeps on sinking. When is somebody just going to say that this emperor has no clothes? Does anyone really believe that this crazy quilt program of massive entitlements, pork barrel spending, bloated debt and huge tax increases is going to "fix" the economy? The last time this was attempted was in the early 1930's, when Herbert Hoover and FDR rolled out a program of wild government spending and big tax increases to shore up a tanking economy. How'd that one work out?
I worry about nationalizing health care when we're such a long way from getting our crazy immigration policies under control. Talk about giving ever-more Mexicans incentives to move north!
Nice to see someone in a semi-mainstream publication start to worry about it too: