Some thoughts before the President’s big speech

Sep 10th, 2009 | By | Category: Blogs

by Jason McGill

Government: “You charge WAY too much and you treat your customers like dirt!”

Health Insurance: “Okay, let’s compromise.  I’ll treat them a little less like dirt if they agree to pay me more money.”

Government: “Awesome!  Helloooo reelection!”

It occurred to me while watching Meet the Press online that I was insane for watching Meet the Press online.   Then it occurred to me that the above dialogue basically explains what, if anything, we’re going to get out of this mess.  If you want a long (but really good and readable) explanation, you should read this article by Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi.

The President has all but said (and will say Wednesday night, I predict) that there will be no real public insurance plan, the much bally-hooed public option.  If there is a public option, the blue dog democrats have assured us that it will pay out at rates similar to private insurance (instead of lower medicare plus five rates) so that the playing field is level with insurance.  That also means the public plan would be pointless.  It’s like saying, to level the playing field, homeless shelters have to charge the same as hotels.  Whenever anyone mentions blue dog democrats, imagine a blue dog humping the leg of a health insurance CEO.

But never fear!  There is more to health insurance reform than the public option, right?  That’s the line the White House has been pushing for weeks.  They love mentioning how the bill will keep you from getting turned down for preexisting conditions, and insurance companies won’t be able to kick you off the rolls if you get sick, and they’ll cap out of pocket expenses, and they won’t be able to arbitrarily raise premiums multiple times in one year, and you might even be able to keep your insurance if you “switch jobs.”  In other words, the health insurance companies are going to have to treat people like human beings instead of bloody sacks of cash to be drained up and thrown out.

How is this real change?  Gee, you make the industry that has caused this health care crisis stop a few of it’s more egregious, blood-sucking practices.  Hooray!  A major victory!

But there’s more!  There’s also an individual mandate looming overhead, meaning everyone MUST by health insurance or face a tax penalty.  Health insurance, welcome to 47 million new customers, courtesy of uncle sam!  Forty-seven million Americans, welcome to fly-by-night health insurance, much like the craptastic state minimum car insurance advertised late at night on the CW (not that I watch it).  The only difference between that kind of insurance and no insurance is that you pay to be uninsured.

THIS is reform?  Creating a windfall for the industry that screwed things up?  Exponentially increasing the overhead and the paperwork logjam that is strangling health care?

But here’s the best part.  No denials for pre-existing conditions?  No kicking people off when they get sick?  Keeping insurance if you lose your job?  These all KEEP people on the insurance rolls.  Wow, tough reforms.  Really sticking it to the people that stuck it to us.  Insurance companies will get to pass these costs on to the public via the mandate, or subsidies from tax money that will support the mandate.  No wonder PhRMA, the drug lobby, is spending 140 million to SUPPORT reform.  They took a lesson from Wall Street about socializing losses and privatizing gains.

It’s a win, win, win all around for insurance, and lose lose for Americans.  We’ll pay more and get less.  And the added bonus?  This plan can properly be called “Universal Health Care,” forever sullying the name of the only system that makes sense, and the system every other industrialized country in the world has, and the system that veterans, the elderly, and the very poor have right now, single payer.

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