April 5, 2012

The Healthcare Conundrum.

Nothing gets a good politician worked up to a frothy state (see what I did there?) like the mention of the Affordable Health Care act a.k.a. “Obamacare”.

Now before I continue this blog entry, I must say that I don’t like the term Obamacare. It’s snarky. And even though the Obama administration has begun “owning” the term by using it themselves, I still think that it’s a snide way of referring to the Affordable Health Care Act. We don’t call Social Security “FDR Security” or “Roosevelt Security” and we don’t call Medicare “JohnsonCare”, but those programs were started back when people had more class and respect for one another, at least in a general sense, so we didn’t do things that way back then. “Obamacare” just rubs me the wrong way.

Anyway, I think that the Affordable Health Care Act is generally a good idea. I agree that ALL Americans, regardless of socio-economic standing should be afforded the same basic healthcare benefits. No one should be forced to choose whether or not they can treat cancer or HIV or the results of a catastrophic accident on the basis of financial standing. And quite frankly, I don’t believe that people should be turned away from insurance companies due to a pre-existing condition.

Now I fully believe in smaller government and I believe that the government is involved in way too many things that quite frankly is none of their business. But with that being said, I do believe that the government should impose regulations on insurance companies and the medical industry (the word ‘industry’ is completely on purpose) to keep costs under control so that medical care is affordable and available for everyone. Personally I think that regulation should dictate a cap on the percentage of profits made from medical care and associated services (pharmaceuticals, etc). It goes completely against my Libertarian streak but if they can’t behave themselves then someone has to reel them in.

However, there is one thing about the Affordable Care Act that just rubs me the wrong way. There’s actually a couple of things, but I’ll focus on the main thing so that I don’t sound like I’m completely ranting.

I have issue with Americans being penalized for not carrying health insurance. I had a problem with Massachusetts instituting that approach and now that it’s in the ACA I have an even bigger problem with it.

There are people in the United States that do not believe in Western medicine. Admittedly, the percentage is quite small, but there are folks that do not believe in loading up their body with man-made chemicals designed to treat symptoms of a problem. Some simply believe that they should strive to eat healthier and make healthy choices with their lifestyle instead of taking a cholesterol lowering pill that’s going to slowly destroy their liver. There may be some women that don’t believe in blasting their boobs with radiation on a routine basis. There could be men that might not want to know about the size of their prostate. Do I agree with their choices? It’s none of my business, but if they decide that they don’t need health insurance because they’re never going to use it then they shouldn’t be penalized for opting out of a plan. There shouldn’t be a tax, there shouldn’t be a fee. At no time should the government say, “you have to buy xxxx from a privately run corporation”. Sorry, I have a problem with that part of the Affordable Care Act. Most disagree with me. Some counter that it’s like paying school taxes when you don’t have kids. I get the theory behind that (investing for the future after all, the children are our future and all those other lyrics), but that bothers me too, but not as much as the mandate in the Affordable Care Act.

I’m rather anxious to hear the Supreme Court’s decision on the subject in June. I really hope that don’t throw out the entire act and do the sensible thing by ruling on just the mandate instead of ruling the whole thing unconstitutional, because in the overall scheme of things, that would be bad. As a relatively sensible individual, I’d rather see the mandate than have Americans denied health insurance based on the whims of the greedy insurance companies.

But every time that mandate part is mentioned around me, I’ll roll my eyes and sigh.