A while back I argued that there’s a rule – when the US spends a whole lot more and uses a whole lot more than everyone else, what we usually get back isn’t just less than everyone else gets for the same buck, it is dramatically worse. I called it my rule of 10 times the price = 10 times crappier. It applies to an astonishing range of American actions – from our military budget and its results to the oil we invest in agriculture.
Back then, one of my examples was healthcare, which I pointed out was at least 4 times crappier (and at least 10xs or more for those who can’t get it at all, an increasingly large percentage of the populace) for more than double the price of the average European nation’s health insurance.
Well, we seem to be well on the way to achieving the 10-10 rule with the current healthcare bill. Without a public option, its function will be to force many people to give private industry their money, without dramatically lowering prices. This is an enormous boon for the healthcare industry, who get billions of dollars without actually reforming their practices, and a boon for a percentage of the population that can afford healthcare but can’t get it because of pre-existing conditions. It is an enormous sucky hell for the large number of people who can’t afford healthcare – particularly the struggling folks just over the edge for subsidies.
So the question comes around – does one support this piece of shit legislation or not? The argument in favor is this – if healthcare fails again, it will be a long, long time before it comes around again. With more than 2 out of every 5 Americans with no healthcare, and Medicare expected to be broke in 7 years, we can’t afford to wait another decade. On the other hand, this is so obviously screws so many people and benefits exactly the wrong ones.
I’m not convinced at all that once in place, it will be reformed. On the other hand, I am convinced that if we don’t say yes, a lot more medical bankrupcies and early deaths will result. In the long term, I fear that the coming breaking of the Medicare budget will result in the casting off of baby boomer seniors into the arms of the private insurers as well, with this as a precedent.
My first choice would be to lock the entire American Congress in with a selection of the angrier, larger and healthier friends and family members of millions of people who can’t get decent healthcare, and wait until a better bill emerges. Given that that’s not going to happen, I’m caught between two visions – the middle class family that was almost making it until the shitty healthcare bill forced them to buy insurance, and the person with a medical diagnosis who is skipping dinner to pay for her medications. I don’t like what this does to either of them, but I’m going with the impoverished person with a medical diagnosis. So I guess I’m for it, assuming arranging for the big men with borrowed canes to change the minds of our government isn’t a choice.