February 03, 2006

Health Care – Privatize or Nationalize?

If you listened closely to the State of the Union speech this week, you might have heard the President talking about “Private Health Care Accounts”. Once again, this is yet another scheme of the Bush Administration to help their rich friends get richer and screw over the middle and poorer classes in this country. Let’s take a look, shall we?

When W came out of his 2005 SOTU address he was revving up his scheme to privatize Social Security. He went on tour trying to sell his ploy, but the people in this country didn’t buy it. Let’s face it – we’ve already been duped so many times by this snake-oil salesman, there’s absolutely no reason to believe the fears he’s trying to scare us with now. Sure, we all felt that Social Security might have some financial turmoil in 50 years, but we also knew it was due to Bush’s over-spending & tax cuts for the wealthy. Why should Social Security take the hit? And even if Social Security was in trouble, privatization was not the answer. In fact, it would’ve made the situation worse… much worse. Let’s face it – the transition costs alone would’ve ballooned the debt upwards of a trillion dollars. It would have put billions into the pockets of Republican Wall Street buddies and put our country deeper into the hole.

Now W is trying to sell another brand of snake oil. He couldn’t privatize Social Security, so now he’s trying to privatize Health Care (if it wasn’t already privatized enough). He hasn’t actually put any real proposals down, so it’s hard to figure what his scheme entails, but he did mention it in the SOTU speech, so we know something’s cookin’. I’m guessing that he wants to attack Medicare & Medicaid - our only government-run health care programs. They’re holdovers (along with Social Security) from the ‘New Deal’ that the Republicans have been trying to gut. So, I’m guessing that Bush is cooking up a scheme to turn Medicare & Medicaid into private health care savings accounts. Let’s look at what that will mean…

Don’t Get Sick!

First off it means that the money you’d be paying into a private savings account would go to cover your health care costs if you become ill. That means if you want to get to that money, you’d better not become ill. That means that people would be much less apt to seek medical attention when they need it because it will eat into their savings. Sure, that’ll keep us healthy!

Someone Gets Rich

Don’t those savings accounts have to be invested somewhere? Of course they do. So, the real benefactors of this plan are the Wall Street honchos who’ll rake in the service fees.

What problem does it solve?

Even if there were some benefits to Bush’s scheme, exactly what problem does this solve? Will this help the 45 million Americans who don’t have health insurance? I don’t see how. Is this going to control the costs of health care? I don’t see how. Is this going to help American companies be more competitive in the global marketplace? I don’t see how.

Nationalization is the answer

The true answer to the American health care problem is Nationalization. This is an idea that is long overdue. But as long as money-grubbing Republicans are in power, it will never happen. God forbid any HMO’s or Pharmaceutical companies have any constraints on their profits.

The United States is the only industrialized country withOUT nationalized health care. Because of this, the cost of health care is a huge burden. Here’s just one simple comparison with our neighbors to the North… According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development, the per capita cost of health care in the US is $4,631 compared to $2,535 per capita cost in Canada. At the same time, the United States ranks 47th on a scale of Life Expectancy at 77.71 years of age, while Canada ranks 12th at 80.1 years of age.

And what of the 45 million without Heath Care coverage?

Every hospital has an obligation to treat any person in dire & immediate need of care, whether they have health coverage or not. If for no other reason other then fear of liability lawsuits, the hospital will provide treatment to a certain extent. However, without health insurance, that level of treatment essentially ends when the need for care is no longer dire & immediate. Therefore, those without health insurance coverage will not receive preventative care, medications, and a whole host of medical services necessary for healthy living. And without preventative care and medications, these people are more likely to need dire & immediate care, the cost of which is eaten by you-know-who… us!

The cost of providing health insurance to employees is a huge burden

Companies of even small sizes are obliged to provide partial health insurance coverage as an employment benefit. This means that any hiring decision has the added consideration of the cost of the ‘headcount’. If an employee or family member requires catastrophic health coverage, the company often incurs those costs as well.

These health care costs are a significant burden on the part of American companies. These costs have an impact on American company’s ability & capacity to produce their products and provide their services, and that burden makes American companies less competitive to their foreign counterparts. So the next time you hear about American companies not playing on a level field, this is one of the most significant reasons.

We pay for it either way

This is the bottom line. Whether or not the United States privatizes or nationalizes health care - we’ll pay for it. Those of us who work have deductions taken right out of our paychecks. What would be the difference if the deduction was a tax, instead? Would the deduction be significantly higher? I doubt it. If it was a requirement just like Social Security taxes, then EVERYONE who receives taxable income, would pay into it. That’s not the case now since health insurance is essentially optional, and since it’s so expensive, so many people can’t afford it. Would the choices of providers be different? Possibly different and possibly better. If we’re all on the same health care system, then the restrictions wouldn’t apply.

National health care makes sense. ‘Private health savings accounts’ is nothing more than an evil profiteering scheme. Don’t buy this snake oil either, America!


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