I’ve been a bit delinquent in replying to comments, so I’m sorry for writing a new blog when I haven’t tied up the older ones. But I wanted to say a few things that have been on my mind.
The title of this blog is borrowed from a song by the band Rush, titled The Spirit Of Radio. I really love music, and the idea of the song is that radio is set up so that you can broadcast something so beautiful and meaningful, and all you have to do is listen to a few commercials to pay for it. Or as the song puts it, “…bearing a gift beyond price, almost free.”
It’s a beautiful idea.
And the idea behind health insurance was once a beautiful idea too. It went a little something like this.
Everyone gets sick, everyone gets old, everyone needs help sometimes. But the cost is often just as dangerous as the solution. So if everyone chips into a big pot, young, old, healthy, sick, everybody, then those payments (or premiums) will pay for the medical expenses of those that need help now. Young peoples’ payments will pay for the elderly, healthy peoples’ payments will pay for the sick. Because we all recognize that one day we too will get the same benefits.
A very smart, very nice idea. For awhile.
Then some health insurance companies figured out they could make more money if they weeded out the policies of the elderly, who have the most health expenses. And as a result seniors were committing suicide left and right because most of them couldn’t afford pain medication or treatments, or if they got those treatments, they couldn’t make their medical bills.
So medicare was invented, to take care of seniors who the insurance companies had abandoned.
It wasn’t long before people started to realize that health insurance was a necessity for everyone, and that the young and healthy needed to pay into it as well to make it work. So they tried to make it more or less universal by making laws saying that if you worked a certain number of hours, your employer had to insure you. This way even people on minimum wage could have health insurance.
So then businesses started hiring two people for 20 hours apiece instead of 1 person for 40, and forbidding their employees from working the requisite number of hours. Everyone reading this blog probably knows someone who has two part-time jobs.
Health insurance companies, out of a desire for more profits, not out of necessity, began discriminating against more and more people, weeding out not only the sick but people whose families have health problems that might run in the family, and those that are too old, and those that have any health problems at all or “pre-existing conditions.” More and more the reality of health insurance stopped being what it was originally meant to be. A way to ensure the general health and security of entire communities, not let a CEO somewhere have his own private island by taking his insurees’ money and then letting them die.
Health insurance companies discriminate against the elderly so we have medicare. They discriminate against the poor so we have medicaid. But now they discriminate against the rich, poor, middle-class, able-bodied, sick, damn near every group of people. It’s gotten so that only the healthy can get health insurance.
Which is why we need a public option to cover those that cannot get insurance any other way.
That is the only way we can fulfill the original ideal of health insurance, and actually give people peace of mind for their money.
And I see no moral or logical difference between paying for it with a premium and paying for it with taxes. You might say “well I pay the premium and I pay the tax, so that’s not fair.” But you’re paying more in your insurance premium than it would take to pay for everyone’s health insurance. So who should you really be mad at?