Friday, August 21, 2009

Sorry Salesmanship

This may be the worst selling job of the best product in history.

One side is screaming about death panels, loss of choice, socialism and government takeovers. People will be taken off of Medicare, and those on Medicare will get less service. You won’t be able to choose your own doctor and the government “will pull the plug on Grandma.”

But Obama’s sales pitch is hardly more realistic. Those who don’t have insurance will get insurance. Those who have insurance will get better insurance. Insurance will provide more and cost less, and if you can’t afford it the government will pay the premiums for you. Medicare will be bigger and better. Veterans care will be bigger and better. Nobody will have to pay except for a tiny number of people who have ridiculously high incomes.

I want health care reform or, failing that, health insurance reform but I don’t believe either side. Both sides are making claims that simply are not credible. One side is trying to tell us we can have a free lunch and the other is trying to send us to bed without supper.

Supporters of the “public option” hold it up as the ultimate solution to driving down the cost of health care because it will “keep the health insurance companies honest.” Just exactly how it’s going to do that is never spelled out, because if the plan is that it will pay all claims without questioning them it is most certainly not going to reduce costs. If it is going to examine claims, how is its standard going to differ from that of private insurance?

How is the public option going to eliminate the extra staff that every doctor’s office and medical provider, hundreds of thousands of offices, must maintain to fill out forms and pursue payment?

Perhaps the public option is going to eliminate that “twenty cents on every dollar of premiums” that private insurance companies keep as profits according to Keith Olbermann. Except that eliminating the 4-7% which actually is their profit doesn’t get us anywhere close to spending what other civilized nations do on health care.

Perhaps there is something in that 1100 pages of legislation that reduces the cost of health care, but if there is then so far no one has been talking about it. On either side.

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