Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Rational Health Care

I belong to a homeowners association, an experience which I urge everyone to shun like exposure to bubonic plague. I even made the mistake of deciding to serve on the Board of Directors in a misguided attempt to bring some trace of sanity to the management of the association; a decision promptly regretted and never to be repeated.

The structures are only semi-detached but are nonetheless individually owned, and the association carries a master property insurance policy covering all of the homes. With rising costs for road, pool and landscape maintenance the board was looking for ways to reduce costs, and the insurance policy came under examination.

One board member was convinced that we should drop the master policy and let homeowners buy individual policies to save the association money. It was unbelievably difficult to persuade this person that dumping costs from the association onto individual homeowners was not useful, because the association is the homeowners; that we needed to reduce costs in actuality, not merely dump them onto homeowners, who were already paying them in actuality.

Further, the buying power of the group was beneficial; one large policy was far less expensive than was 145 small policies.

The health care reform debate is being run by that board member that wanted to dump homeowner costs on individual members. Does anyone remember the phrase “government of the people, by the people, for the people”? Taking costs away from the government and putting them on individuals is an oxymoron; government money is the people’s money.

Leaving aside the moral arguments of whether people “deserve” health care, or whether government has an “obligation” to provide health care. In a purely rational argument, the larger a purchasing group is, the more it can dictate pricing and control costs, and the largest group or association we have available to us is the federal government.

With single payer you don’t have to force people to join, you “let” them join, and all it requires is a US birth certificate, a green card or a valid visitor’s visa. The costs are covered in your “annual dues,” the taxes that everyone pays for all of the things that government can provide so much more effectively than any other agency; national security, fire protection, police protection…

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