Tired of The Health Insurance Mess?


Phot by Joe Mabel

Photo by Joe Mabel

As important as this “debate” is, I know I am tired of it. In fact this topic is almost too wearisome to write about since it is in the news every day now, and dominated by bickering between the political careerists. The bottom line in my mind is that the system of health care delivery we currently have is broken. Too much of the money spent goes to companies and people who really define what a “middleman” is. Consequently, unless you are wealthy enough to buy your own insurance or lucky enough to have an employer that provides it, you may have to go without. But, as employers realize they can no longer subsidize health insurance premiums to the extent they have in the past, more people will be unable to afford coverage.  At one large employer in my community that offers health insurance benefits, the cost to the employee to insure themselves, their spouse, and one child is over $350 per month.  This is a company where over 2/3’s of the employees earn less than $1,500 per month in take home pay.  Some of these employees were lucky enough to get approved for The Oregon Health Plan because they can not afford their “employer provided” health care plan, but many of them just go without.   Another inherent difficulty in subscribing to employer provided health insurance is that the cost is the same for every employee.  A $350 premium may be impossible for a $9 per hour person to pay, but a drop in the bucket for a person making $50,000 a year.

Unfortunately, because of the fear of another 1993 result where nothing was done to change the system, a compromise of some sort is almost guaranteed this time around. This compromise may really accomplish very little in true change, but will allow the politicians to pat themselves on the back, say “aren’t we great”, and go back to business as usual for another 10 or 15 years.

All of the other wealthy countries in the world long ago subscribed to the idea that we are indeed our brother’s, (and sister’s), keeper and so provide basic health care to all their citizens. In the U.S., our culture is so deeply rooted in the idea of independence rather than interdependence and self reliance instead of a sense that we should help take care of each other, that many will do anything to prevent us from reforming our broken health care system.  This is why you hear screams of universal coverage being socialism.  Really?  Do these screamers even know what socialism is?  Would having a system of universal coverage, even if you call it socialized medicine, really make the U.S. a socialist country?

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Will Sig
1 Anna

Will health care is so important, yet I can see in US it gone really under. It is slowly going under here too, from year to year there are little cuts here, there, etc. I remember those good old days, when I work for a large corporation I also had $600 allowance for vitamins and other supplements, and herbal tea in cafeteria was free. I also could combine with my husband’s benefits to get rest of the money if coverage was only 80%. Too bad, health care should always be priority…. Anna 🙂
.-= Anna´s last blog ..A Bit of Knowledge: More Moon Photography Tips & Opportunities =-.


2 Will

Hi Anna – So the Canadian health care system is having money trouble also eh? That is not good. I guess the huge increases in costs are not limited to our broken system.


3 John McD

I think most nations are experiencing some inflation in health prices due to the costs of more advanced treatment & equipment. The difference is that the baseline cost in Canada or the UK is about half of the US and the rate of increases is lower, too. But the pure single payer systems there do have another potential problem looming: shortages. Because they don’t allow any private competition, there’s been a trend toward longer waits and fewer choices.

Right now, I think the systems with universal multipayer systems are delivering the best results while also holding a lid on costs. As long as basic necessities are covered universally, people could still buy extra private insurance to cover things the government won’t. This should even appease conservatives, I think, because the government won’t always be the final decision-maker in who gets treated or not.
.-= John McD´s last blog ..First Summer Farm – More Lessons than Food =-.


4 Will

Hi John – You mean shortages in services? We have this problem right now in the US. Because of the high cost of medical school, doctors graduate with huge debt. So they decide to go into specialties that will pay them more and allow payoff of the debt. General Practice and Pediatric doctors are in short supply because of this.

Many of the opponents to changing the US system are opposed purely based on political ideology. Many simply do not like Obama so want to stop him from implementing any change. Because Obama was elected based on promises to change things, his opponents believe that preventing him from doing so is the quickest way to erode his support. The idea is that people will blame Obama for not getting things done and this will help the opposition in elections in the coming years.


5 John Hunter

I agree completely. I want a society that protects people from violent criminals. That is not socialism. I want a society that protects people from large businesses that would impose illegal conditions on others (who cannot enforce laws themselves every time). I want a society where child labor laws are enforced. And I want a society where everyone has access to basic medical care. That does not mean (to my way of looking at things) that I am my brothers keeper. It means there are some minimal standards for society that I believe in.

Others can use whatever words they want to claim something is socialism. We often get confused because words have very different meanings in different situations. If someone wants to say my believe in minimal health care availability for everyone is what they call socialism then fine. Now they have at that point taken socialism to mean something very different from what I (and I think most people) mean by socialism.

It seems pretty obvious to me they are really just trying to scare people with the word socialism instead of saying they don’t believe minimal health care should be available to everyone. That is a perfectly acceptable political position. I don’t support it but a lot of people do. I don’t have to call them names to disagree with them.

My thoughts on the broken health care system



There are lots of problems with the current helath care system. Huge wastes of money (hundred of billions a year – just compared to those system in other countries – not to some ideal system). Poor performance – people forced to live unhealthy lives due to the poor performance of our system. Huge personal costs from stress dealing with the poor health care system. Huge costs to business, including bankruptcies trying to pay for the ineffective health care system we have.

These problems have been known for decades. It would be nice if people could stop delaying by saying we need to debate whether we can change (we can afford not to and have a huge amount of evidence from decades of poor performance). But the same people that have prevented us from improving the system for the last 20 years seem to be holding out again. Thankfully those in favor of change have been growing in number and clout greatly over the last 5-10 years.

It is unlikely significant improvement can be stopped in the next 5 years. But they will succeed in watering down the improvement quite a bit I would guess.
.-= John Hunter´s last blog ..How a Family Shed $106,000 in Debt =-.


6 Will

Hi John – Great, well thought out comment. I sort of agree with you about the brother’s keeper, but on the other hand your description of want you believe is important in our society matches what I believe also. So we are probably just a little different in thinking what the term brother’s keeper means.

Your last sentence is a much nicer way of saying what I said in the paragraph about the backslapping. You should have seen the first draft of that before I tamed it down. I get really disgusted with the politics of Washington sometimes.

Did you see Anna’s and John McD’s comments about the Canadian type system? I had not known that the trend there was for fewer services. Most people I have encountered or heard are quite satisfied with the Canadian system. I asked a couple of people I play hockey with what their families up north of the border think. They both said that everyone they know is happy with the Canadian system and that there would be rioting in the streets if it was ever changed.

I am heading over to read your posts on this. Thanks for the links.


7 Stephen Settle

These Health care policies are quite annoying at times, because htey have so many conditions & clauses attached with them.


8 Keith

If only we got what we paid for with government programs! The private sector has a lot of waste and excess overhead, but the public sector has inefficiency down to a science.

And yet, that works to the advantage of the populace in most cases. Not the case with health care, though.

The real problem with the one size fits all approach is that not every patient will cost the insurer the same amount. Some will under pay, most will grossly overpay.


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