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Author: jpkiljan One star, 50 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 740970  
Subject: Re: Retire Early Group Health Plan Date: 3/16/2000 7:19 PM
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4GoneFool:

Please add me to your list of people you'd like to rant about. I think JTMitch and the people in just about every other western country have got it right. What we have now hurts the poor and it hurts our children. I'd have a lot more faith in the current US healthcare system if there were a fewer people who decide to just opt out and go with no insurance at all for themselves and their families (about 15% in my state, if I remember right); and, if the US infant mortality rate wasn't (from the last time I looked the data) trailing just about every other industrialized country.

What we have now just widens the gap between the poor and the rich in our country. It makes me wonder what social price we are going to have to pay for this situation in the future and what incentive those who are now sitting at the bottom of the economic heap have to save anything if they know they can loose it all to pay for a family member's medical condition.

Government is, by its very nature, inept, inefficient and bureaucratic; but the private sector has outdone the feds and gone beyond the pale in a Byzantine array price structures, billing complexity, prior condition pre-qualifiers, market manipulation, continuous-coverage certifications, waivers and political lobbying. It makes about as much sense to keep government (we call it 'gubmit' out West) out of our national heathcare system as it does to turn our military or criminal justice system over to the private sector. Would we want to fight just the cheapest wars or only the ones that bought us the lowest oil prices? Concentrate on arresting just the criminals with the most assets to recover (you can go home now kids!)? Those ideas seem absurd; but, for some reason, we think the 'for-profit' sector can best manage our basic medical safety net.

After many years we're starting to make progress in healthcare and someday I think our country will actually get it right; but, for now at least, count me among those who think it is as screwed up as a Chinese fire drill (apologies to the Chinese, here).

I sincerly hope you and your family keep your health in the coming years, 4Gone.

Don't forget to add me to that list!

-- JPKiljan

The Forgone Fool wrote:

There is no way that I can address this topic without seeming insensitive, but being politically incorrect is like second nature to
me.

jtmitch said:
1. The US is about the only major industrial country in the world which does not include health care among the
services generally available to the population.

<rant>I am so tired of hearing this. The US is a lot of things and not a lot of things. The fact that we have not accepted
socialized medicine as a role of government is a badge of honor. If we create a cradle-to-grave nanny government we will lose
freedoms we value above all else. If we do not continue to be "the only ...", then we will be just like them. Try paying Canada's
taxes. See how you like it. The market may not be a kind and generous place, but it beats the hell out of Big Brother.</rant>

2. The insurance companies "cherry pick" the risk pools wherever possible leaving those who seriously need the
insurance in a very untenable position. (And I am the first to agree that some -- but clearly not all of those who need
significant medical care bring their conditions upon themselves);

<rant> Insurance companies are businesses. If we don't allow them to make a profit, they will go away. If we create different
risk pools, then the people who use the service pay for it. All else is social engineering. If we're going to do social engineering,
it should stay at the social level and forget the business level.</rant>

3. This has led to individuals cherry picking insurance programs to join -- a natural thing to do given the economic
nature of man. But the result is that the premise upon which the concept of insurance is based -- shared risk among a
population that will have a statistically predictable number of claims -- is undermined to the disadvantage of those
who need the insurance most.

Isn't freedom such a horrible thing?

If you want to live in a society where the cost of keeping everybody else alive is born by the other members of the society, then
I suggest you find or form such a society and leave the government and the industry out of it. It seems to me that this approach
would be similar to a farm co-op. A not-for-profit insurance company to compete with insurance companies might just bring
prices down. Perhaps a church contains enough like-minded individuals who will voluntarily help out their fellow citizens by
pooling their health care dollars and risks. People helping people at a local voluntary level is the goal to strive for. Complaining
that governments have too little power or that businesses and individuals look out for their own interests is self-defeating. If we
accept the opposite, the benefit we gain isn't worth what we lose.

We have this problem because employers provide health care benefits as a deductible business expense. Perhaps we could
convince employers to stop providing health benefits and just give us the money instead. Then we would need to convince the
government that everone (short or long form) should be able to deduct the premiums paid to whichever group we decided to
join. We could then join local broad pool groups or narrow cherry-picked pools. I have no problem with a voluntary "residents
of church X" group so long as my premiums are deductible. Isn't this the proper role of church and civic organizations?

4goneFool
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