Quote Of The Day – On Private Rationing

By Justin Gardner | Related entries in Barack, Health Care, Obama, Quotes

“Right now insurance companies are rationing care. They are basically telling you what’s covered and what’s not. They’re telling you: ‘We’ll cover this drug, but we won’t cover that drug; you can have this procedure, or, you can’t have that procedure’. So why is it that people would prefer having insurance companies make those decisions, rather than medical experts and doctors figuring out what are good deals for care and providing that information to you as a consumer and your doctor so you can make the decisions?”
- Obama at his health care town hall today

I’ve written about this before recently and it still baffles me that people are completely fine with corporations making these decisions based on quarterly earnings, but they’re not okay with the people they democratically elect appointing health care professionals making these decisions based on the common good.

I suppose it speaks to the amount folks have bought in to the idea that profit and capitalism are the greatest goods and that government can do nothing right…which we all know is a crock. Either that or they genuinely don’t understand how amoral private health care insurance is. As with most things it’s likely a combination of both, but wow…what a crazy, messed up situation we find ourselves in these days.

But here’s a question…what if Republicans win this fight? What is their fix to this? Because they’ll HAVE to fix it if they get the White House.

More as it develops…


This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 11th, 2009 and is filed under Barack, Health Care, Obama, Quotes. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

15 Responses to “Quote Of The Day – On Private Rationing”

  1. Jimmy the Dhimmi Says:

    There is no free-market with health insurance in America today. There are so many mandates and regulations and tax schemes that it is unfair to label what we have now as capitalism. State governments decide which insurers can offer what policies to their constituants, and it is artificially attatched to employment through the tax code.

    You are also painting goverment healthcare as a panacea that provides better quality to everyone at a lower cost. Most Americans just don’t see it that way, particularly when they examine the enormous problems facing state run health care in other countries. Those problems do exist, whether you want to ignore them or not.

  2. Aaron Says:

    This has been circulating recently, and I don’t know the original author, but I think its appropriate:

    This morning I was awoken by my alarm clock powered by electricity generated by the public power monopoly regulated by the U.S. Department of Energy.

    I then took a shower in the clean water provided by a municipal water utility.

    After that, I turned on the TV to one of the FCC-regulated channels to see what the National Weather Service of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration determined the weather was going to be like, using satellites designed, built, and launched by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

    I watched this while eating my breakfast of U.S. Department of Agriculture-inspected food and taking the drugs which have been determined as safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

    At the appropriate time, as regulated by the U.S. Congress and kept accurate by the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the U.S. Naval Observatory, I get into my National Highway Traffic Safety Administration-approved automobile and set out to work on the roads build by the local, state, and federal Departments of Transportation, possibly stopping to purchase additional fuel of a quality level determined by the Environmental Protection Agency, using legal tender issued by the Federal Reserve Bank.

    On the way out the door I deposit any mail I have to be sent out via the U.S. Postal Service and drop the kids off at the public school.

    After spending another day not being maimed or killed at work thanks to the workplace regulations imposed by the Department of Labor and the Occupational Safety and Health administration, enjoying another two meals which again do not kill me because of the USDA, I drive my NHTSA car back home on the DOT roads, to my house which has not burned down in my absence because of the state and local building codes and Fire Marshal’s inspection, and which has not been plundered of all its valuables thanks to the local police department.

    And then I log on to the internet — which was developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Administration — and post on Freerepublic.com and Fox News forums about how SOCIALISM in medicine is BAD because the government can’t do anything right.

    To be fair, the above listed services aren’t perfect, but they’re certainly not failures either.

  3. Mike A. Says:

    What citizens examine the “enormous problems facing state run health care in other countries”? I would not be surprised if most could point out the countries in question on a map, much less understand the complexities of their medical systems. Much of the anger appears to be based on talking points and soundbites, barely deep enough to cover the speaker’s ignorance of the subject. Truly only an idiot would believe in the rumors of “death panels”.

    I would argue our current state of health care is far worse than those in the “other countries” you fail to reference. Just more boogie-man words.

  4. Chris Says:

    Dummy,
    So those regulations are forcing the HI companies to deny claims and focus on profit? Lawls, give me a break dude. You’re a pathetic corporate apologist.

  5. Marvin Says:

    The massive stupidity & ignorance of the American people makes me so sad. What else would explain so many of our fellow citizens fighting for the profits health insurance companies instead of the health of the American people?

  6. Nick Benjamin Says:

    There is no free-market with health insurance in America today. There are so many mandates and regulations and tax schemes that it is unfair to label what we have now as capitalism.

    How many health care problems do you think we would resolve if we totally eliminated regulation of the insurance industry?

    I doubt it would work. Costs are simply too high. US health costs so much, and go up at such a high rate, that it’s virtually impossible to construct a scenario where deregulated insurance companies can both make money and charge reasonable prices.

    Granted they could charge a lot less if they were allowed to cover a lot less, but charging money for worthless insurance ain’t exactly reasonable.

  7. Mike A. Says:

    Hey Aaron, love the post.

  8. Jimmy the Dhimmi Says:

    Nick:

    Costs are simply too high. US health costs so much, and go up at such a high rate

    Surely health care costs are too high in this country, but they have been rising at an average-to-modest rate when you compare with other industrialized nations. In fact, over the past 15 years or so, health care costs in France and Great Britain have risen at a faster rate.

    How many health care problems do you think we would resolve if we totally eliminated regulation of the insurance industry?

    When I got my most recent job, I only had one choice for health insurance. That is because the system is structured by the government to incentivize employers, not individual consumers, to shop for health insurance. My employer can only choose from a handful of local insurance plans liscensed by the state.

    Lets say that my current insurance provider doesn’t cover a particular medication or treatment, but there are other plans out there that do. I don’t get to choose. My employer and the state government choose for me. If I’m not mistaken, there are more than 1000 private health insurance providers nation-wide, but the goverment effectively has given me only one choice. Imagine the possibilities if every American citizen could choose from any one of the 1000 plans available! What if I could deduct the cost directly from my income tax instead of my employer, and all of my compensation was paid in cash?

    That type of deregulation alone would alleviate most of the problems that Obama care claims to address. If Obama’s plan is all about providing choice and competition, there is absolutely no need for the public option – particularly one that can unfairly subsidize its costs with taxpayer money (and yes, tax-payer subsidies are included in every version of the public option proposed by democrats).

  9. Jimmy the Dhimmi Says:

    Marvin:

    What else would explain so many of our fellow citizens fighting for the profits health insurance companies instead of the health of the American people?

    I assume that you believe heath care is a right that should be provided by the government. Correct?

    What about food? Is food a right? Surely food is just as important, if not more so, than health care. Do you believe the government should provide all of the food for its citizens? or do you fight for the profits of greedy farmers and grocery store chains?

  10. Nick Benjamin Says:

    Lets say that my current insurance provider doesn’t cover a particular medication or treatment, but there are other plans out there that do. I don’t get to choose. My employer and the state government choose for me. If I’m not mistaken, there are more than 1000 private health insurance providers nation-wide, but the goverment effectively has given me only one choice. Imagine the possibilities if every American citizen could choose from any one of the 1000 plans available! What if I could deduct the cost directly from my income tax instead of my employer, and all of my compensation was paid in cash?

    Always remember: Dead people don’t get life insurance.

    You buy insurance to insure that when bad stuff happens to you in the future it doesn’t break your budget. That’s why pre-existing conditions clauses exist.

    Insurance companies have to enroll several healthy people for each sick person they cover. In your plan all diabetics would cluster in the same plans. Same with heart patients and anybody else with chronic health problems. So the premiums might start out reasonable but a) they’re gonna go up fast, or b) the insurance company’s gonna run out of cash to pay for bills fast.

    So you just created a massive blizzard of paperwork (your Doctor has to be able to bill all 1,000 health plans, and all of them have different paperwork), tens of millions of potential legal disputes about pre-existing conditions, and you didn’t actually save any money.

    What about food? Is food a right? Surely food is just as important, if not more so, than health care. Do you believe the government should provide all of the food for its citizens? or do you fight for the profits of greedy farmers and grocery store chains?

    The nice thing about food is you can get pretty much universal food coverage without shafting any businesses. Food stamps are great for poor folks, farmers, and grocers.

  11. Nick Benjamin Says:

    Surely health care costs are too high in this country, but they have been rising at an average-to-modest rate when you compare with other industrialized nations. In fact, over the past 15 years or so, health care costs in France and Great Britain have risen at a faster rate.

    Keep in mind that most countries have increasing costs for medically justifiable reasons. The Germans are aging so rapidly their population is shrinking. The French aren’t shrinking, but they aren’t getting younger either:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/aug/27/population.eu
    Most of Europe is in the same boat aging-wise. We aren’t because our white folks have more kids than theirs do, and we accept more immigrants.

    The Brits costs have increased because they decided that their spending was too low. They want their costs to increase faster than per capita GDP growth. That’s the point. Basically they decided to that someone with a headache should take two aspirin, rather than the previous stiff-upper-lip-you-wanker strategy their system was famous for.

    It should be pointed out that even with more pressure on everyone else to increase costs Canada, New Zealand, Finland, Sweden, Finland, and Germany all had per capita increases less than half of ours. And let me repeat: Germany is so old that it’s population is declining. Their costs should be going up a lot more than ours.

  12. Jimmy the Dhimmi Says:

    So draft a provision that pre-existing conditions cannot be dropped from private insurance. That is a compromise I’m sure you could get republicans on board with, provided the rest of the system is deregulated and de-coupled from employment.

    So long as behaviors such as drug-addiction, smoking, obesity are not considered pre-existing medical conditions, and physically fit, non smokers can get better premiums, this could successfully be sold to these “unruly mobs” who gather outside the high-school gymnasium, shaking their parasols to protest Obama care

    See, look at that! Compromise in the spirit of bipartisanship. It can happen if we try.

  13. Bob Morris Says:

    I found a quote on another forum interesting, said quote coming from a Canadian. He essentially stated that the problems with the Canadian health care system are not with the system itself, but with the people running it.

  14. Jason Arvak Says:

    I’ve written about this before recently and it still baffles me that people are completely fine with corporations making these decisions based on quarterly earnings, but they’re not okay with the people they democratically elect appointing health care professionals making these decisions based on the common good.

    I think the legitimate concern might be that people lack faith that the appointees will actually be health care professionals and that their decisions will be motivated by the common good. Administrative boards have at best a mixed history in the quality of people that are appointed to them. Sometimes the appointees are ideologically motivated more than motivated by a broad “common good”. And also, as we can see from pseudo-ethicists like Peter Singer, some conceptions of the “common good” include potential for moral travesties like euthanizing the disabled.

    But for a more realistic basis for concern, look at the record of the FDA in approving new drugs. This is an administrative board that is already supposed to be making health decisions in the common good, right? But it has been continually plagued by problems of slow response and denial of approval to even potentially promising drugs for serious diseases like HIV while, at the same time, failing to be rigorous enough in guarding against negative consequences of other drugs.

    I’m not saying that insurance companies do a great job on this all the time either, but the presumption that government boards will be staffed by superhuman experts who act only “in the common good” seems to me equally a denial of experience.

  15. Justin O. Says:

    What’s next? Are grocery stores “rationing” because they choose what products they sell?

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