Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Public vs Private health insurance plans

A good buddy of mine discussed health care in his blog, and it brought up a question that I keep asking myself. This question is not so much directed at him and those who responded in his comments section that followed (but he is free to respond here, of course!), but rather this is me thinking out loud. That question is this:

Will a federal health insurance plan (FHIP) do any better than the private system that we have now?

First, understand that I tried very hard to keep this question from sounding like I'm some sort of anti-government kook. However, I can't shake the idea that a FHIP will become yet another political football whose coverage will vary depending upon who's in office. I also can't shake the fear that a FHIP will become the tool of political lobbyists for pharmaceutical corporations and various other associations allegedly based on "health services". In other words, I can't shake the belief that certain illnesses will get preferential coverages under a FHIP because a certain PAC happens to have powerful lobbyists working for it rather than coverage being based on actual need.

Granted, there will be a "shake-out" period for any FHIP that happens to get off the ground, but can we afford to wait until such a shake-out is complete? And any medical or pharmaceutical PAC would want the "shake-out" period to last as long as possible so that they can keep taking advantage of the uncertainty to work in as much influence into the final plan as they can. I can't shake the feeling that a FHIP is going to be a gigantic financial boondoggle that will do more to hurt health care than help, because we are depending upon politicians to not resort to type by using a FHIP to help their re-election chances rather than to help the people for whom it was intended: the currently uninsured. Can any of you honestly trust politicians to not think of themselves first before the constituencies that they serve - especially with something that is going to be so personal and primal to our lives as our health and health care?

There are some other things I can add, but now is a good time to stop and get some feedback before I continue. However, I will say that it really would give politicians' word more sway if they made themselves subject to the very same FHIP that they expect us to take up (see my previous blog entry). If it's going to be mandatory for us to take it, then it should be the same for them. As foreign a concept as this might be for them, if they would lead by example, then it would speak volumes more of their faith in a FHIP than exempting themselves from taking up such a plan while requiring us to take it up.

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