Saturday, February 23, 2008

I'm Sorry, Ollie . . .

Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy are two of the most endearing comedy teams of all time. Their bumbling antics combined physical humor and lines delivered with the kind of timing & expression that can only come from professional comedians.

Mid way through their adventure, the dialogue would almost invariably include Oliver saying "This is another fine mess you have gotten us in" to which Stanley would reply, "I'm sorry Ollie."

It looks like the folks at Health Care for America have come up with another grand idea that fails to address the root issues.

Supposedly their plan "would cover 99.6% of Americans and save more than $1 trillion in health care costs over the next 10 years."

Well that's impressive.

So how do the propose to save $1 trillion?

The initiative calls on employers, individuals and the federal government to share responsibility for providing affordable, high-quality health insurance.

Sounds great.

How is it made affordable and how is "affordable" defined?

I especially love the part about the federal government "sharing" in the responsibility.

So who is really paying the freight on this?

Employers, which means their customers are actually paying in to this system.

Customers include taxpayers.

Individuals will also "share".

And individuals count as taxpayers.

Then we have the federal government's share.

Which is funded by . . . taxpayers.

So in other words, this new plan is funded by taxpayers.

The government would administer Health Care for America as it currently runs Medicare, offering people a choice between a public insurance plan and a range of private insurance plans.

As it currently runs Medicare . . .

Does anyone who pontificates on these new plans really understand how Medicare works?

I doubt it.

Medicare is an under-funded, high utilization plan that rearranges the deck chairs by shifting more of the cost to the beneficiaries and medical providers. Every year the folks at Medicare decide what will be covered, what will not be, and how much they will pay. In many situations providers who accept Medicare beneficiaries must be willing to accept lower reimbursements than the year before.

How is this such a great system?

The biggest issue is this. How is all of this going to control the underlying cost of health care?

This scheme proposes a different way of funding health care without addressing the underlying cost of medical inflation.

Well this is certainly another fine mess . . .
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