Friday, September 18, 2009


Hmm, been a while since I talked about anything really substantial. Oh, yeah, by the way, my dog is fine now, back to normal weight and activity - thanks for all the kind words.

So, anyway, healthcare. I was reading this opinion piece that was basically a warning about how the way healthcare is being approached is all wrong, and found myself nodding to it. Now, as I'm sure that some of you have noticed reading this, my views tend to lean a little liberal, but I'm generally part of that moderate group that politicians try and get. I've voted Democratic, I've voted Republican. Please bear that in mind before trying to dismiss my views as partisan bullshit, because they're not.

Here we go - all the healthcare proposals are currently just political theater that are poor attempts to solve symptoms, rather than really fix anything. They live in a world where they can't push the status quo too much or there won't be any support. As such, if any of them pass, very little would change for the vast majority of us. And while I'm all for helping out those who can't pay for insurance, there are real problems with the rest of the system for those of us who have insurance. Those problems, if not fixed, promise to be even worse if we also have to help pay for those who don't have insurance (which we do now anyway).

The problem, to me, can be easily defined as one of competition. Make insurance companies compete like a regular company does - regulate them at a national level, rather than by state. Remove their antitrust protection. Have some consumer agency rate each available plan offering (kind of like your credit rating), so consumers can easily compare them in terms of coverage and pricing. We also should probably provide a listing of the minimum standard of coverage, and require everybody to have that at least. Give benefits to employers who go above the minimum.

Maybe divide up the people who can't afford it into 4 or 5 regions, and have the companies compete every few years to be the one serving insurance to that region's government-provided healthcare. Anybody else can buy into the "region" plan that the government negotiated for them, even if it is just for secondary insurance to cover what their primary doesn't, or if they prefer it over their employer's plan.

Sure, light on details, I know. But here's the point. This kind of system isn't socialist at all. It has our established insurance providers compete for customers in an open market. That kind of approach would take time to change things. But the key is push the status quo out. Once that happens, the businesses evolve or die in the new marketplace, and eventually, the new ways to make money become the status quo. Sure, that way may have its own problems, but if we can set it up properly in the beginning, maybe we can make it so those problems are ones where we spend more on heathcare than anybody else, while getting less for our dollar. This happened when we deregulated airlines, and the phone system, and broke up standard oil. Sure, not all of the changes from that were good - but change breeds innovation, and with the proper hand, it might be the ticket here.

I'm always a fan of using the negatives of something to do your work. Using the massive population of forum posters on to do the work of finding spam (while also causing it)? Check. Using capitalism and competition to fix a status quo that stakeholders don't want to change? Yes please.


Decimator Omega said...

I find Healthcare very important. No Healthcare=Death.

Yoozel said...

I don't swing by your blog that often and that's why this comment is super late but I always find your political views somewhere in line with mine.

As a personal experience I work in a field where health care is very rare for all employees if not some and the latter being more expensive to insure anyone in the food service industry period.

But I really like how smoothly you stated a seemingly simple solution to an over beaten problem.