Ben Langhinrichs

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Genii Weblog

Health care bill in U.S. should pass

Sun 21 Mar 2010, 07:47 PM



by Ben Langhinrichs
It appears assured at this point that the health care legislation being considered in the U.S. House of Representatives will pass.

I must say, I am greatly relieved.  Besides any general liberal tendency which I have (and I do), I am personally relieved.  My family has been generally healthy, apart from the myriad young child ear infections and such, and we have still gotten mired in the "pre-existing conditions" nonsense before.  I have run my own small company for over a dozen years without company-sponsored insurance, which has meant a series of increasingly expensive insurance which we use less and less each year.  Right now, we are facing a small health crisis (not me, not dire, not going there) which will be resolved fairly quickly and will probably not cost what one year's premiums do, yet it will almost certainly mean that nobody will want to take us on in the future.  If our insurer stops covering us, we are screwed.

But the health care legislation pending will help.  It is not a cure-all, but it does promise more of a guarantee that I will be able to buy insurance for my family, even if at high rates.  That is a relief, and for that I thank the members of the U.S. Congress who found it in their hearts (for whatever reason, political, moral, religious or pragmatic) to pass this.  I also believe that in the long run, this will make small businesses and large businesses more competitive in the world, since right now companies in many countries do not directly have to pay the high costs of health care, which are instead shared across society.

It's not the bill I would have hoped for, but it is a bill that gives me hope, for myself, for my family and for my country.

Copyright © 2010 Genii Software Ltd.

What has been said:


918.1. John Turnbow
(03/22/2010 01:03 AM)

Great. I don't think you understand what is in the bill. While, we do need "insurance reform" and Tort reform, this bill is not it. You, I and everyone will pay more for less. A friend of mine, a Houston oncologist, will fold shop. He and others have hired lawyers and others to read and decipher the bill. The govt already owes him and slow pays him, 2.8 million dollars. He's one of the best in Houston. So, if medicare slow pays, you have a staff of 10 or 20 and now you will get slow pay all the time? What Obama does not consider is all the overhead a doctor has. This bill is bad medicine. You'l see fewer doctors entering the field. An estimated shortage already expected next year 40,000... So, who you going to see? Already rationing will come..


918.2. Ben Langhinrichs
(03/22/2010 01:46 AM)

Well, John, I guess we'll have to wait and see. Insurance reform and tort reform are both fine and dandy, but they don't provide any reall assurance of insurance. It's not a great bill, but I believe you are hearing the equivalent of fear-mongering. The doctors I have talked to have all been behind it, every single one, (and I'm afraid I have talked to too many doctors recently). It is not a great bill, but it is not a bad bill.

As for the "you will pay more for less", that's plain silly. I will pay more whether or not this bill passes. I will probably get less whether or not this bill passes. My insurance has been going up 20-35% a year, every year. I see nothing in this bill that will make that worse, and many things which might make it better, albeit not as much as I would like. The system is broken, badly broken, and this bill should help some. I wish that both parties had gotten together long ago (Nixon proposed health care legislation not very different than this, supposedly), and made a better system.

Forget the scare tactics. If you have a better proposal, propose it. Republicans asked for several modifications over the past many, many months. They got several, asked for more, got more, asked for more. Eventually, the Democrats stopped saying "Yes" because the bill was being gutted. So what happens now? Every Republican will vote against it. Do they really dislike the changes they asked be put in it, or is it grandstanding? You know the answer as well as I. That doesn't mean Democrats haven't been grandstanding, but on this issue, the Democrats have it right. The Republicans have adopted a slash and burn, vote No on everything, including bills they have co-authored, all to prevent a Democratic "win".

I want an American win, and I don't give a frizzy-haired frog whether Democrats or Republicans win because of it. We need help, and Republicans, by and large, have agreed to stop helping with anything because it might hurt their electoral chances. That is despicable.


918.3. Ian Randall
(22/03/2010 05:00 AM)

Countries like Canada, UK, Sweden, New Zealand and Australia all have health schemes that make basic health care universally available and reasonably affordable.

The USA is the worlds richest nation but has a higher child mortality rate than Cuba and many other third-world nations.

Both the Democrate and the Republicans should be ashamed of the state of health care in the US, but even a bad bill is better than the crappy old health care system that you currently have.

Ian


918.4. Mark Hughes
(03/22/2010 12:39 PM)

You do know the Prime Minister of Canada came to the US for his health care? We have the best "Advanced" health care in the world. I live in Houston which has the largest medical center in the world. People come here from all over to get treated for cancer, heart conditions, and brain surgeries.

The child mortality rate is sad, i would be curious to see what the causes of death are, my guess most would involve drug or alcohol abuse.

People here get cured of things that other countries on your list say, sorry we wont pay for that, you have to die. It does cost allot of money, and things do need to get fixed.

And to the point of Republicans not wanting to help for electoral reasons, welcome to a democracy where they are representatives of the PEOPLE. They should be voting on what the people want, even if they do not agree with the people.


918.5. Ben Langhinrichs
(03/22/2010 01:26 PM)

Nice sound bite material, "the Prime Minister of Canada came to the US for his health care", with little meaning. So? We aren't talking about quality of health care, we are talking access and affordability.

If I can't afford care, the quaility doesn't help. The Prime Minister of Canada will get care, but my family won't.

The child mortality rates are almost entirely due to inadequate pre-natal care and malnutrition, neither of which has anything significant to do with drug or alcohol. This has been documented by the World Health Organization and others.

Yes, this is a democracy, a representative democracy. The majority of people voted for Democrats, the majority of whom voted for this bill. Where's the objection? How is that not "voting on what the people want"? How is that not listening to the PEOPLE?


918.6. Mark Hughes
(03/22/2010 02:03 PM)

For me it is about the quality of health care. That is a priority in my life. I will pay what is necessary for my healthcare, and i understand good health care cost allot of money.

I think most people can afford to pay for health care, it comes down to how much are you willing to pay for it, and where is it on the priority scale. It is more important than the expensive car people drive? Is it more expensive than flat panel tvs, or smoking? Where does it rank in the priorities in peoples lives.

I have one vehicle in my household, that is quite difficult, but allows me to afford my health insurance.

Now that the health care has passed should i say, screw insurance, i getting another car and someone else will pay for my health care?

The democracy comment has to do with why republicans would not vote for the plan, and how you called that despicable. You do know they represent their own districts not a national vote right? So they were representing the people in their district, nothing despicable about that. Nothing like selling your vote for special projects in your state, and more federal money to your district.

Yes there are a majority of democrats in the house and senate, and the bill passed. That is democracy, but we will also see in the near term elections how the people feel about this by how they vote.

Elected officials should be scared about getting voted out

So where are we in this next quote?

"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world's greatest civilizations has been 200 years.

Great nations rise and fall. The people go from bondage to spiritual truth, to great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to selfishness, from selfishness to complacency, from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependence, from dependence back again to bondage."


918.7. Ben Langhinrichs
(03/22/2010 02:19 PM)

You say "I think most people can afford to pay for health care", but you mean health insurance, I think. An operation and a three day stay in the hospital can cost $50,000. Not many people can afford that. I pay $15000 a year for my family of four (I have another child, but she is grown and on her own insurance), and that is without accounting for deductables and co-pays and so on. My fear is that my health insurance could dump me, and that I might be unable to get health care. Trust me, I am not unemployed and I pay lots and lots of taxes (I don't know what your income is, you don't know mine, but I own a company with customers in 47 countries--it is quite probable I pay more than you do in taxes).

I might be able to pay for that one operation and three days in a hospital, but only by taking my son out of college and sending him to community college. My family has only had one car for the past fifteen years and we are quite frugal. This has nothing to do with frugality. A case of cancer would bankrupt us without insurance.

Now, you may be right and the people may vote the Democrats out of office. I guess I wonder why the Republicans who claim that such an outcome is certain seemed so afraid that this bill would pass. Isn't that exactly how democracy is supposed to work? And if your quote is correct, why are the Republicans so sure?


918.8. Curt Stone
(03/22/2010 02:34 PM)

I agree with you, Ben, on the reforms to insurance companies even though my state(CT) may need to go back to an agriculture economy if we lose insurance companies.

My concern is that this reform is another 'throw money at it' approach. The percentage of income I have control over continues to decrease. I have to pitch in 40-50% of my income into the tax and entitlement pool and then try and get some back with tax rebates for medical, college and having kids. Whatever. I gave up my personal freedom long ago when I decided to get married, have 3 kids and support them. Just give me a roof over my head, warm supper and a cold beer and I'm happy.

The national, state and local debt really concerns me. How much longer can we continue to pay with credit cards and print money?

I'm having a bad week. My email's getting converted to Outlook, SharePoint's coming next and my programming career is being outsourced. Seriously considering moving to Caribbean and serving drinks on the beach. :)


918.9. Richard Schwartz
(03/22/2010 02:37 PM)

It was not the Canadian Prime Minister! It was the Premier of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Funny how facts get distorted by people looking to score cheap points.

He went to the US to have a minimally-invasive procedure done, instead of the more major surgery that was available in Canada. That was his choice in order to minimize his down-time due to treatment. Whether the fact that it was minimally invasive means it was a better quality of care is a question I'll leave for medical experts.

Note that Canada has about 1/10th the population of the US, and frankly a considerably healthier population over all. It is the lower demand for advanced surgical techniques, not the fact that they have a publicly funded health care system, that is most directly responsible for the fact that some advanced procedures are not available there.

Anyhow, he was exercising the same choice that every wealthy American has now, and will still have under the reformed health care plan: to pay out of pocket for a higher level of care than his insurance provides for, or for faster service than his insurance company's provider network can deliver. This is exactly the situation we have today, and it is exactly the situation we will have after reform. You can do it now when your insurance refuses to cover the exact procedure you want, from the exact physician you want, at the exact time you want, and you will be able to do it afterward.

If you have coverage now, the difference that the reform bull makes is that the people making the decisions as to what is covered, what providers you can use, and when you can bet treatment will have to follow a more strict set of rules designed to counter the insurance companies' business motivation -- which is to take your money while you are healthy, but either speed up your death, cancel your coverage, or increase your costs so much that you will cancel your coverage once you actually have health issues, in order to cut their shareholder's losses and improve their bonuses.


918.10. Mark Hughes
(03/22/2010 02:41 PM)

Yes i meant insurance, not healthcare, and yes you probably pay way more than me in taxes. I guess my question is why do you pay so much more than me for insurance (3x)? I pay about $500 per month for a family of four, and i could get it cheaper, but i like copay, not 80/20. Of course my Company picks up part of this tab, thats another (self employed verses company employed) debate of which you prefer.

Good point on your last sentence. Never thought of it like that.

I think we will have to disagree on this topic. I just feel like whenever the government gets involved things get really screwed up. I am not counting on social security for retirement. I am 32 and know it wont be there when i reach that age ;-)

I love your Lotus Notes posts, and i wish you the best

I hope no one gets any hard feelings, we all bleed yellow.


918.11. Curt Stone
(03/22/2010 03:10 PM)

@Mark @Ben,

I'll take the middle of the road and agree with both your points of view. As my grandfather always said(and we laughed at him), "They're all crooks". He was referring to the politicians and the company heads. I'm seeing the light of his simply wisdom.

Wasn't it fun to see the Democrats beg, steal and borrow to get this done within they're own party? Washington has always worked like this but it seemed we had a more focused insight into how things get done. I applaud the folks who voted for this on principle. The others I'm ashamed of. Is it me or has there been more and more corruption in business and politics as the years go by? I need to stop watching the nightly news.


918.12. Ben Langhinrichs
(03/22/2010 03:29 PM)

@Mark - No hard feelings. I pay as much as I do because with no group leverage, that is what the inurance companies charge. It is one of the costs of choosing to run my own business. I also tend to assume Social Security won't be there, and plan accordingly. I wish it were otherwise, but the deficits are going to eat the country alive eventually.

@Curt - I couldn't agree more. I assume there were Democrats who voted their conscience (and voted for or against the bill), and Republicans who voted their conscience (and voted against the bill). I applaud all of them. There may have even been members of either party who voted against what they would like to see but along with the majority of their constituents. Fine. To the many in both parties, no matter how they voted, who voted for purely political reasons, for shame.