McCain's Healthcare 'Plan': Paying More for Healthcare Is a Feature, Not a Bug

Magic ponies: they're not just for Iraq, but healthcare too! (from here)

Yesterday, I described how families would pay more under McCain's healthcare plan. But one point that I neglected to mention is that this is supposed to be a good thing. The logic (of a sort) is that if you end up paying more for treatment, then you will choose not to receive unnecessary treatment.

Like heart surgery. Roger Hickey explains:

...McCain wants to tax workers' health care premiums that are paid for by employers. Ask any expert, conservative or liberal, and they will tell you the result will be companies will stop providing health care as an employee benefit. Fortune Magazine quotes one of their experts on the impact of McCain's plan: "I predict that most companies would stop paying for health care in three to four years," says Robert Laszewski, a consultant who works with corporate benefits managers.

Now keep this in mind: McCain and his corporate advisers don't dispute this. The massive upheaval that would result - millions of families losing their health coverage on the job and then having to try to find an insurance company that would sell them a new policy that would cover their families--that's not an unintended consequence of his proposal. That chaotic loss of health security is exactly what McCain intends to happen. He wants us all to buy insurance not as part of a group--like an employee group or a co-op--that can negotiate for better coverage at lower premiums, but as individuals, at the mercy of the private insurance companies.

And get this: McCain wants to abolish the regulations that currently exist in most states that require companies to insure people with pre-existing conditions, provide benefits that don't exclude some medical conditions, and prevent them from charging huge premiums for crumby benefits. How would he do this? By "giving people the freedom" to buy insurance in other states with weaker regulations. You can bet that most of the big insurance companies are now shopping around for the state that wants to become the corporate headquarters state for the new deregulated health insurance industry - if President McCain wins. Delaware? Mississippi? Arizona?

Again, this is NOT unintentional. McCain and his corporate advisers think it is good for individuals and families to pay more because it makes them think twice before seeking health care, and--in theory--they will shop around for cheaper care. And if they can't cover the costs of real health insurance with McCain's tax credit, the insurance industry will sell you lower-cost plans with big holes in coverage or costly co-pays--that is, if you are not already sick and you aren't too old for them to see you as profitable.

On top of this, most people will have no idea whether or not an expensive medical treatment is necessary under the best of circumstances, even after consulting medical professionals. And when the person is you or someone dear to you, even professionals themselves will make bad choices. As I noted yesterday, a universal healthcare system that is affordable is not a pie-in-the-sky dream: lots of countries already do this. We could too.

Or we could just inflict more crazy conservative economic theories on the Republic. That works too, I guess....

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Hmmmm. I think I can see the year 2010 "logic" already: if you can't afford to pay for a treatment, then it must have been an unnecessary treatment, therefore you didn't need it in the first place, so why are you complaining?

Sure. If your life isn't worth dragging your family into debt for the rest of time, then clearly you don't value it enough for it to be worth saving.

Heck, good sound capitalist logic says that the price for any life saving medical treatment should, obviously, be "How much you got?"

We COULD, but we won't - because the insurance industry and drug companies won't release their control over our "healthcare" industry.

We need to blast thru this nonsense one falsehood at a time. For starters, someone ought to ask McCain, "ok, if I need to "shop around", what's the going rate for an MRI?, how much do normal deliveries cost? should I have a ct scan with or without contrast if without is cheaper? should I use the cheap doctor or the expensive one, what's the difference?"
There is no way for a consumer to shop around. We need to dispel that notion.

The best thing about a plan like McCain's, it tends to kill off the poor and the sick, leaving the rest of us with more medical care to go around. /sarcasm

This is just more glibertarian BS predicated on the false notions that perfect information is available to everyone and that human beings always act economically rationally. I'd like to see any of them actually come up with any shred of evidence for either claim, myself.

Stuff like this is why, despite a tempting job offer, I'd never move to the US. When I'm sick or needing medical attention, I don't want to have to think about it, worry about it, or comparison-shop, ferchrissakes; I want it fixed, now. Preferably sooner than now if possible. (Not always, but I almost always get in to see my doctor on the same day as I request an appointment, and I'm having elective surgery on the 27th of May for which I had the initial surgical consultation on the 8th of April...) Also, the fact that I am basically one giant preexisting condition, I'd pretty much not qualify for even the best insurance. (What do adults with congenital or birth-trauma-related conditions do about getting complications from those conditions treated in the US?)

By Interrobang (not verified) on 05 May 2008 #permalink