A Costly Prescription for Health Care Reform

health careThe President and Congress are guaranteeing that any government health care plan they pass will not cost the American taxpayer a dime. Never mind that the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office figures it will cost some $1 trillion. Most people in western South Dakota are choosing to believe the CBO over their elected officials, and with good reason.

In 2003 Maine enacted its own version of universal health care. In an August 21 story, The Wall Street Journal reports, “The program was going to provide insurance for everyone and save businesses and patients money at the same time. After five years, fiscal realities as brutal as the waves that crash along Maine’s famous coastline have hit the insurance plan. The system that was supposed to save money has cost taxpayers $155 million and is still rising.”

A few years ago Tennessee tried providing public health insurance. Says The Wall Street Journal on August 17, “TennCare’s runaway costs show that the public health insurance proposal by House Democrats could bankrupt the federal government.” TennCare “became so costly at its peak that it ate up one-third of Tennessee’s budget.”

Hawaii’s version of national health care for children was abandoned after seven months because costs went out of control.europe

Those desiring a national health care system often hold up Europe as the standard we need to aspire to. It seems these other nations are having about the same luck with government health care as Maine, Tennessee, and Hawaii.

A July 12 article in The Times of London says that, even with their high tax rates, the Brits need more money to fund their national health care system. The Times says, “If we want to maintain an equitable and high-quality health service, it is time to challenge a long-held political taboo and consider the case for charging patients.” On August 12, the paper reported a group of 1,000 doctors, most working in the NHS, said the system had to “change or die.”

England isn’t alone, according to a Wall Street Journal article on August 8, 2009. In recent months, France has imposed American-style “co-pays” on patients to try to throttle back prescription-drug costs and force state hospitals to crack down on expenses.

Even more ironic, a poll reported in The Times on August 24 shows that 150 lawmakers believe the NHS is unsustainable in its present form and want to see the introduction of a private insurance system. Isn’t it ironic that, while we are racing headlong to try and socialize our system, England and France are going the other direction towards privatization?

We have no national sales tax in the U.S. Both England and France have national sales taxes ranging between 10% and 20%. In the U.S., our highest tax bracket is 35%. In the UK, the 40% tax bracket starts at £35,000. Indeed, they pay plenty, but apparently not enough.

Certainly, most U.S. citizens are not buying that a government-run health care option won’t cost taxpayers. It would be refreshing if Congress and the President dropped the rhetoric and stopped insulting taxpayers and told them the truth: a government option will cost you money, and probably lots of it.

medicareWe already do have government health care. It’s called Medicare, and it’s costing us a bundle in taxes, higher medical costs, and higher insurance premiums. It’s well documented that Medicare is going to be a disaster if we don’t cut benefits or raise taxes to continue to fund it. If our lawmakers really want to give us health care reform (and most everyone agrees we do need reform), maybe fixing the Medicare funding disaster would be a good place to start.

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One Response to A Costly Prescription for Health Care Reform

  1. Tim Heiman September 8, 2009 at 5:19 pm #


    I have read your articles on health insurance reform and understand completely where you are coming from. From a small business point of view which you are in and I was in, how do you control cost from sky rocketing? We as a company went from providing a source for health insurance to a point where we were paying about 70% of the group premium for the employees who were under age 30. Without doing that all these young healthy employees could go buy their own insurance at a fraction of our group rate. Without this under 30 age group included in our census our premiums sky rocketed for the rest of the remaining older workers. Either way our company/employees were stuck for these cost. What is the answer for the small business who has the age range from the teens to age 65? Let’s look at myself in 9 months when my Cobra runs out. I may or may not qualify for insurance without pre excisting conditions. At what cost will I have to pay? How do I then get or afford insurance? How much is it costing tax payers per year right now to pickup the tab for all the uninsured who show up in the emergency rooms to get their health care? Is the trillion dollar cost over and above that cost now or does that cost need to be subtracted from the trillion dollars as saved money. I believe I have read that the average American paying health insurance is paying an additional $1,100.00 in premiums per year to take care of the uninsured/underinsured people. On average wouldn’t that be a 20 to 30% savings for individuals? As it stands right now I do not know for sure what I’ll do when July 1, 2010 comes around. As I said earlier I understand where you are coming from, what I don’t understand, what are my options going to be. Going back to work is certainly is one of them, but by age 58 will the policy be affordable?

    The simple solution is to give every American the same policy that our Senators and Representatives have. Don’t you think it would be hard for them to go back to their constituants and say well we can’t give you the same health insurance we have, it will cost too much.

    There is no easy answer especially when you start looking at all the factors involved from limiting the liability for malpractice insurance and to pay for the most up to date procedures. Does every senior citizen need new hips and knees as soon as they qualify for Medicare? Does every senior citizen need a electric scooter like the one they advertise on TV that they can get for free. Maybe an exchange service is needed in scooter business, but why buy a used one when you can get a one for free!

    I have been rambling on but where and how does all this stop?

    Tim Heiman