Find A Happy Place

With the GOP mounting an assault on the Health Care Bill and the Senate being pushed to vote, writers and bloggers are having a field day writing about it. I figured it was time I joined in.

I read the other day on The Healthcare Blog that the assault may backfire if the GOP isn’t careful.  A good point, and something that should be watched closely.

The blogger, Robert Reich, continued saying that the individual mandate is the key point of the law with which the American public has a problem.  But it is also the most needed point as the young(er) people will even out the risk pool thus assuring a more evenly distributed risk.  If they’re in and then they back out, it will death spiral.

So why do young(er) people have a problem with the individual mandate?  Being the schmaaht fellow that I am, it didn’t take me long to figure out that they likely don’t have the money in addition to being forced to buy it.  And being forced to choose between buying groceries or buying health insurance isn’t a place they’d like to be. Neither would I.  Not to mention the fact that overall they’re probably feeling pretty healthy and don’t see the need.

However, the bill has been passed. 

So how can we all find common ground here? How could we find a happy place?

Let me state for the record that I am not a fan of the Health Reform Bill that was passed. Though there are some good (and needed) aspects to it (ex. no pre-existing condition limitations, no lifetime limits, change to Medical Loss Ratio or MLR, coverage for dependents age raised, improved preventive care coverage), it failed to adequately address what I feel is the most important issue in healthcare today – costs.

In short, we’re adding 32 million people to a system that already has problems controlling costs.  Not schmaaht.

This got me thinking again…thinking about a happy place.

Perhaps the HCR Bill wouldn’t be such a bad thing if the cost issue were addressed first. 

Young(er) people don’t want to be forced to buy health insurance because it’s expensive and they don’t have the money (maybe due to the economy they are unemployed). So if we did a better job of controlling costs, insurance would be more affordable.  If insurance were more affordable, then young(er) people would be more able to afford it.  If they were more able to afford it, then passing legislation requiring them to buy it wouldn’t be met with such opposition. And maybe, as an added bonus, if healthcare costs didn’t make up almost 18% of the GDP, maybe there would be more jobs.

Right?

Of course, I’m purposely and ridiculously over-simplifying. Or maybe it’s that I wrote the majority of this on a Friday afternoon a week and a half ago and am just now getting around to publishing it. 

But it does emphasize something.  Maybe our elected officials should have looked equally at the cost issue in addition to the access issue. 

I think a more effective approach would have been to make insurance more affordable and available (read: not tied to employment, promoting competition to drive down costs) for those who are unemployed with an individual mandate coming later (2014 or beyond).  Between now and then, the focus should be on cost controls while improving quality and outcomes. That, coupled with a government focus on creating jobs would put this country in a much better place to accept the individual mandate down the line. And don’t forget malpractice reform.

(Note: I’m not tackling the legality of the individual mandate as it relates to the Commerce Clause.  Others like Falchuk and Malkin have done a fine job doing this already.)

Here’s my analogy of the day: the bill has mandated that everyone has to drive and the government has built $50,000 cars for everyone in America to drive when the most that 10% of the population can afford is $25,000.  Oh, there is still the issue that there aren’t enough roads to get where folks need to go!

So a word to those in government (today and tomorrow): While you’re building the roads, be sure to focus on making the car affordable before you require that everyone drives – oh and make sure they’re built in America, because that helps create jobs, reduce unemployment, and allow more people to afford health insurance.

See?  Win-win for everyone!  We’ve found our happy place!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to co-sign a loan for a family member.  He’s being forced to buy a $50,000 car on a $40,000 per year salary. Man, I hope he doesn’t default on the loan…

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