Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Does anybody remember public policy?

I am finding the TV news shows completely unwatchable because all they ever talk about is the ridiculous crap the Republican candidates for president are saying to and about each other.

And the way in which they are talking about said ridiculous crap is not to analyze why it is ridiculous (or not, if any of it happens to qualify as non-ridiculous), but rather simply to repeat it and speculate about how it will all resonate with Republican primary voters. Will Gingrich going negative on Romney backfire because people will think he isn't being nice? Will Ron Paul's failure to support bombing Iran make him seem soft? Is Romney parsing his support for the Massachusetts health care reform act and his abhorrence of the nearly identical federal act finely enough to convince people that there's no contradiction?

Which brings me to the real point of this post. Republicans know they're supposed to hate the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, but they don't know why they're supposed to hate it. Something to do with socialism and death panels, but exactly what it has to do with those things, no-one can say.

The stenographers recently reported that Rick Perry said he met a woman with cancer who implored him desperately that if the Affordable Care Act wasn't repealed soon, she'd be doomed. These news stories were correct -- Rick Perry did say that. And I'll even give the benefit of the doubt that the woman exists and said to Rick Perry what he says she said. However, this is not journalism, because what they did not bother to point out that there is no conceivable set of circumstances under which said woman could possibly be worse off with the Act than she would be without it. Yet there is no point in even asking what she might have been thinking and what the point was of Perry's anecdote.

If she doesn't already have insurance, and she does already have cancer, she will not be able to get insurance until 2014, when the Affordable Care Act takes effect. Then she will be able to buy affordable health insurance and she'll be taken care of! If she does have insurance, she will simply keep it, exactly as it is now. In fact, she might even be able to get a subsidy and pay less. Yet she's doomed, doomed! To what? Being forced to buy health insurance even though she'd prefer to die?

What is lacking so far is any clear explanation and defense of the Act by its chief exponent. I presume that as he shifts into re-election mode we'll hear more, but meanwhile the Democrats in congress need to be doing much more to tell people what's really in the Act and why it's not the work of Satan after all. No-one, it seems, is bothering to do that, ceding the floor to Rick Perry's deranged (imaginary?) interlocutor. Surely we can do better.


Hafabee said...

Actually, one part of the Affordable Care Act already in effect is the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Program.

I was happily surprised to discover this since my wife and I have recently dropped our health insurance (more on this in a minute.) So the case you cite -- an uninsured individual getting cancer -- has *already* been solved by 'ObamaCare' as far as I can tell. Not that you would know this since the Dems seem patently unable to communicate their successes.

Now, for years my wife and I have had a high-deductible plan coupled with an HSA savings account. The only way we could really afford this was to have a *very* high deductible. Well, last year we had a number of relatively minor health issues. Almost every single item came back from the insurer as "This outpatient procedure is not covered by your plan." Which means that it did not even count townards the deductible. Now, the insurer did knock some dollars off of the cost before rejecting it, and most of the providers billed us the reduced amount.

Well, after some soul searching, we concluded that the insurance really was just money thrown away and we dropped the insurance and now put the money we were paying for insurance aside each month into savings earmarked for health expenses. (Can't put any more into the tax-advantaged HSA since we do not have high-deductible insurance.)

This may seem reckless to some -- it certainly did to use at first' We are not reckless people, but sometimes you just gotta roll the dice. We figured we could hold on until 2014 when the insurance exchanges will hopefully come online, or worst case, hold on until Medicare eventually kicks in for us.

Well, we were very pleased a month or so ago to learn of the PCIP described above, and doubled-pleased-slash-amazed when the last time we went to the doctor we were offered a 50% pay-today uninsured patient discount!

Health care in the US is so fked up! As you say Cervates, single payer, universal ...

Cervantes said...

Well, good luck -- two years is a long time to wait. Don't know what else I can say.