Despite angering my sister and convincing her to roll out of bed to attend Saturday’s Tea Party event downtown, Obama and congressional Democrats went ahead and passed HCR on Sunday night. The House vote was 219-212.
Reform is needed. Health insurance is already one of the most heavily regulated industries in America (next to banking, imho). So the idea that saying no to reform is a statement in defense of free markets is screwy. Insurance companies are allowed to hold monopolies, deny people care for illness, age, or even cost of coverage. Insurance companies can even mandate specific means of healthcare delivery or deny certain treatments. Yet, insurance is also the only practical means of providing affordable healthcare to those who need it, due to the sheer cost of things when you get seriously ill or injured, or even if you just have a chronic condition that needs monitoring.
Sure, I’ve heard people on the right (including my sister) claim that we shouldn’t even have insurance, or forcibly bring it down to the level of catastrophic insurance and that’s it. But most of the folks who say this are young, reasonably healthy, and have no practical experience with the actual cost of care and how it relates to a household’s budget.
One only needs to look at our national savings rate, which is flat or negative, the average wage in the country (also flat over last 10 years), and the steep decline in home equity, or the fact that many receive insurance from their employer for free or shared cost, to understand that most families simply don’t have it to give in their budgets to bear the true cost of even routine care.
I’m not saying this bill is the best way to do it, or that we should have pursued a holy grail of insurance rates to the detriment of things like cost containment and educating more Americans about efficient use of the care available to them.
But reform was needed, and this approach was far better than what could have been done – a Canadian single-payer or British socialized medicine approach.
And hey, with this reform now made law, my sister will join the rest of America in having insurance, and I may be a part of one of those “cadillac plans” that are taxed to pay for it. So maybe she will be able to afford to go to the doctor’s for the first time in many years and be sure she’s as healthy as she thinks she is. Even if she resents the liberal hand of compassion that gave her that opportunity.