The High Cost of Healthcare, Whoever Pays

Colorado residents are facing a steep rise in healthcare insurance premiums, and many are favoring a “single-party” insurer, which means the government. They will be able to vote on that option in the 2016 election.  Let the state or federal government set up a program with low premiums for everyone. The problem is that the premiums will not—cannot—cover the cost, which will have to be made up with additional taxes, as surely they will, because taxes can be hidden while insurance premiums require periodically writing a very visible check.  I often think I could bankrupt a healthcare system myself if I was allowed free access to any medical technology anytime I felt less than perfect.

The basic problem is that everyone wants the top doctors, the latest medication, and the widest range of tests, but no one wants to pay for it, least of all the patient. They feel they were living good, honest lives, working hard, raising families and helping their neighbors, when out of the blue, through no fault of their own, they were injured or diagnosed with a terrible illness. Their life has been turned upside-down, simple pleasures have been taken away, they are subject to all sorts of discomforts and inconveniences, and you expect them to pay, besides? Someone else should be responsible for at least that part.

Everyone else sees it differently: Git along little dogie. It’s your misfortune and none of my own.

But the cost remains, big as life and twice as ugly. No matter how you slice and dice it, it is still there, and somebody has to pay. The only real question is who. Fingers point outward in all directions.  Not you, not me. Charge that man behind the tree.

A recent editorial compared Colorado’s single-party option with the Veterans Affairs system, the largest single-party insurer in the country. How’s that working out? As Canada and the UK have found, even astronomical government subsidies are not enough, and the final result is that services are simply not provided. The best doctors move on to better paying jobs in administration, replacement doctors are not hired, equipment is not purchased, new hospitals are not built.

“Sure, you can make an appointment. The earliest opening is in two months, but we hope you’ll be dead by then.”


About Roger Walck

My reasons for writing this blog are spelled out in the posting of 10/1/2012, Montaigne's Essays. They are probably not what you think.
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