Saturday, February 27, 2010

Saving You Money

Salon.Com, which features Glenn Greenwald among others, had an interview with Rep. Rob Andrews, D-N.J conducted by Alex Koppelman. The piece is worth a read, but a couple of excerpts of what Mr. Andrews had to say merit comment.

“And he's afraid he's going to lose his job, and if he loses his job, he told the senator, it would cost $2,000 a month for health insurance. […] It occurred to me that what people ought to focus on is that man and what the two sides are offering here. What we would say to him is, number one, we're working like heck to make sure you don't lose your job…”

He goes on the say words to the effect of, “...and if you do, that you can still get health care." I might take a little issue with just how hard Democrats are actually doing the first part, but the second part is an argument that needs to be made more often in explaining why this “reform,” as pathetic and ridiculous as it is, is needed. You may think you are sitting pretty with your employer-provided health insurance plan, but even Japan no longer guarantees jobs for life any more.

“The political issue is not simply the uninsured. It's how the cost of the uninsured affects those with insurance.”

This one is the monster argument. When a hospital treats a person who has no insurance it bills them more money than they can possibly pay. The hospital does not take that as an unpaid loss, they pass that cost on to the people who do have insurance and who do pay for their treatment. The more uninsured people there are, the more that cost-padding to the paying customers becomes.

So while I take issue with the idea that this legislation “reduces the cost of health care,” this article makes powerful argument for passing it. It reduces the number of uninsured users of health care, which benefits the insured as well as the uninsured.

The "cost of health care" is not going to change; this legislation does not deal with that in any significant way. But that cost is born not by the people who use it, but by a smaller number of people who pay for it, the ones who have insurance. As the number of insured becomes smaller, the cost to them becomes larger, and vice versa, so increasing the number of insured means that each insured person pays less.

Not because costs are less, or because the health insurance companies are "behaving better," but merely because of numbers.

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