Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Insurance Question

With apologies to my readers -- I have been a bit lazy of late, and not much is going on here at the cabin.  I have a lot of time to think, and this question has caught my attention.  If you're not interested in politics, you can skip this one. :-)

[Stepping up on soapbox now]

As of recent GOP Debates, the "Insurance Question" has raised it's ugly head again.  One of my acquaintances on FB posted a video from of a woman whose brother had no job, no insurance and no "governmental assistance" because of his age (mid-late 50s).  He came down with cancer and died in a lot of pain.  The question is asked (and she admits it's a poor question, and it is), "Should people be allowed to die because they have no insurance?"

These kinds of questions, with relation to politics, really irritate me.  Why?  Because not only is it a "yes or no" question that doesn't really lead to discussion, but it is a leading question which plays on our emotions and tends to put a damper on any followup.

Obviously the answer to the original question is "No."  But this has gotten me to thinking, what is the correct question?  I think the question should be this:
"There are people in our nation who are unable to get a job and therefore, without insurance who are unable to get the healthcare they need.  Many of them are dying without treatment.  How would you resolve these issues and save these people?"
 Let me start with an aside that I believe that our world and our lives are made up of series of systems and everything is connected to everything else.  So the answer to this question is complex.

My first "off the cuff" answer to this is that it shouldn't be the problem of government to deal with this, except that it was the government that caused the problem (in my opinion).  Now, they had help of course, but ultimately a lot of the problem stems from laws that have been passed over at least the last 150 years or so.   All of these laws were enacted with the benefit of the people in mind, but some have had a negative effect on the people they were intended to help.

I think that we need to go back and review many of the old (and some not so old) laws that have been passed to see what the consequences of those laws have been and if those laws need to be completely or partially repealed, and/or rewritten.  We need to look at Health Care, and the laws governing legal practices towards doctors and medical practitioners; at the laws governing the insurance industry (especially medical).  We need to look at all sorts of business-related, economics and tax laws that effect businesses' ability to hire and retain workers.  We need to review how we deal with illegal immigrants.  We even need to look at welfare and how we deal with indigent people.

All of these issues are involved in why a person in their mid-fifties who has lost their job and insurance and comes down with a serious disease would end up dying in pain because they can no longer afford treatment.

I want, however, to reiterate one important point that I made above.  Before doing anything, we need to look at the long term consequences of any changes we decide to make.  It's called a "risk assessment."  Most of our laws in the past have been made without any risk assessments (or so I would assume), and some have had consequences that have caused problems in the long term.  But simply repealing a law that "went wrong" will also have consequences.  We need to determine what those consequences are and rework the law such that it solves the original problem without causing additional problems, and transition those effected into the new situation with a minimum of "pain."

Unfortunately, I think the possibility of any of this happening with any politician is slim to none, because no matter what anyone does, someone is going to be unhappy and the politician will feel their ability to be reelected in jeopardy.  So the other thing I think we need is term limits!  But that is another topic all together!

[Steps down from soap box.]


skepticalobserverwithdirtyhands said...

"There are people in our nation who are unable to get a job and therefore, without insurance who are unable to get the healthcare they need. Many of them are dying without treatment. How would you resolve these issues and save these people?"

That's pretty good, Stormy, but I am a compulsive tweaker, aware that we are all dying, so would modify slightly to say, "With appropriate medical treatment, the lives of many of them could be extended, or at least made more comfortable."

Stormy said...

Yes, I think that's better. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Another question with regards to your subject is "Are we trying to live too long?" When a person spends years in a bed in a nursing home and only is alive because of drugs and the like, is that fair to that person. Is it fair to the tax payer who is supporting them? Many working people with insurance now have high deductibles and have to find the money to pay for their medical treatment prior to reaching that deductible. Some of those people go without medical care because of the cost. Many working people are barely making it and will be required to have health insurance shortly or be fined. They make too much money to get help from the government. And their insurance went up 9% this past year where their salary only increased by 5% if they were lucky. This is not a problem that will be easily fixed unless people start taking personal responsibility for their well being. When the government feels it is necessary to dictate what we can and cannot eat, then who's to blame? There is a reason that so many of us are obese. -- Wow! Sure felt good to stand on the soap box for a bit. Thanks for the opportunity.

Lee said...

We have free health care here in Australia for those less fortunate, financially-wise than some; and we've had it for years. I believe it to be a very good thing. Without it, the picture is too bleak to imagine.

And I'm a Conservative voter. :)

Stormy said...


The difference there is that Australia closely controls immigration. Something we haven't done a good job with. We have many low-income people who are non-citizens and put a drain on our systems (not just medical).