My Thoughts on the Healthcare Debate

I promised to post about my thoughts on universal healthcare. My first thought is that there is absolutely nothing specific out there.  If someone can point me to an outline of the proposed Obama* plan I would appreciate it.  The best I can find is this and it is a list of principles with nothing specific suggesting how it might work.

My second thought is that I’m not sure that it is the government’s duty to provide healthcare for its citizens.  I understand that the U.S. will benefit from having a healthy citizenry.  This country already takes great pains to have healthy people.  That is why we have the USDA, the FDA, and the CDC.  I'm not trying to be insensitive here, there are members of my family who are among the millions of uninsured.

My third thought is that I believe the government will do a terrible job of providing medicine for everyone.  I know what you are thinking; healthcare is already in terrible condition, so what is the difference?  The difference is who is paying for it.

There are 2 great problems with the medical establishment today – greed and bureaucracy.  Greed means that doctors, hospitals, drug companies, and insurance companies need to make as much money as possible.  This causes prices to rise and the bill to be a concern for any sick person.  Bureaucracy makes companies impersonal.  By establishing standards of treatment and rules for procedures, companies can deny your grandma the treatment that she needs because of a policy.

What are the two biggest problems with the U.S. government? Greed and bureaucracy. Politicians are motivated by the same things as CEOs.  However, they are also less directly responsible to those who got them their job.

The irony is that bureaucracy and greed are also what make healthcare work.  How does greed help?  Drug companies do R&D not for altruism but because they know that discovering a pill to stop the growth of cancer will be worth billions to them, and if they accidentally discover Viagra in the process, that is pure bonus money.  Hospitals buy new equipment and pioneer new techniques because they know these things will bring them more patients and more income.  Bureaucracy makes companies more efficient, which keeps costs down and speeds their functioning.

This does not translate when we transfer this concept to the private sector.  I have a fear that a single-payer system, or overly harsh regulation will kill ambition.  Causing the money that healthcare organizations spend improving to be added to the bottom line because the rewards for R&D are so limited.

Fourth, who is going to pay for it?  I am yet to even hear the beginning of an answer to this question.

My final thought is one of ethics.  I will never support my tax dollars paying for abortions or embryonic stem-cell research.  So far the administration has been very cagey about whether these things would be covered, but based on track record it seems extremely unlikely that this administration would accept a health care proposal missing these things.

Those are my thoughts, my mind is not made up on this issue, but it will take a lot of convincing to think we need a complete overhaul.  As always, feel free to try and change my mind in the comments

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* Although I am a staff member of LaGrange Park Baptist Church, the views and opinions expressed in this blog are my own and not that of the church.  They may not be construed as an endorsement or attack on any candidate or party on behalf of the church.  They are my views as an individual.