An intellectual freedom blog with an emphasis on libraries and technology

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Fear and loathing in Healthcare "reform"

Republicans know how to set people against each other. According to an AP story Senator says tax on health benefits is unnecessary we read that republican senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa has suggested that a tax on employer health benefits could fund President Obama's proposal to provide healthcare to everyone. Despite Senator Dodd's comments to the effect that such a tax is unnecessary and counter-productive the damage is done.

Just the suggestion is enough to frighten those who have healthcare benefits from their employers to fear additional taxes. The idea of taxing people with jobs to supply healthcare others already has a firm link in many people's minds.

There's an easy way to resolve this problem. I wrote back in 2007 Are you a good risk or a bad risk that private insurance poaching the "good risks" diverts money from health care and spends it on six-figure salaries, bonuses, and a huge campaign war-chest for giving to politicians and both parties as well as PR efforts to fend off a single-payer system.

According to reports from the GAO to Consumer Reports private insurance and HMOs have an overhead (measured in number of dollars per $100 in reimbursement to health care providers) of about 15%. Some have overhead as high as $18 per $100 of reimbursement. What about the "grossly inefficient" government programs? Medicare and Medicaid consistently come in at $3 per $100. If you were simply to replace the current spending on private health insurance and divert the same funds to a single-payer system, you could pay for health care for everyone and have enough left over to give back money to both employers and employees.

The republican disinformation campaign and scare tactics take advantage of existing prejudices against poor people. Not all poor people are lazy, collecting welfare and uninterested in work. Many under-employed people to not receive employer health benefits. Many small businesses can not afford to offer health benefits and state laws do not require them to either. The stereotype of the lazy welfare recipient does not hold true for millions of people without health care.

Also keep in mind that back in 2007 GM griped about the competition from Europe. The European car companies do not have to pay health benefits but the U.S. ones do. If not for humanitarian reasons then for economic ones why not have a single-payer system that spends the premiums on health care instead of influence and astronomical salaries? Just a thought

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