In the Globe today, a Boston University economics professor named Laurence J. Kotlikoff offers his solution to health care in America.
It reeks of conservative idiocy. Here’s the proposal, quoted at length:
My solution is called the Medical Security System. It would eliminate Medicare, Medicaid, and (by dropping the tax breaks) employer-based healthcare. The government would give everyone a voucher each year for a basic health plan. The size of the voucher would be based on one’s health status. Those in worse health would get bigger vouchers, leaving insurers no incentive to cherry-pick. Furthermore, insurers would not be permitted to refuse a voucher or otherwise deny coverage.
The government would set the total voucher budget as a fixed share of gross domestic product and determine what a basic plan must cover. We would choose our own health plans. If we cost the insurer more than the voucher, he would lose money. If we cost him less, he would make money. Insurers would compete for our business and could tailor provisions, like co-pays and incentives to stop smoking, to limit excessive use of the healthcare system and encourage healthy behavior.
Nothing would be nationalized. Virtually all of the cost would be covered by redirecting existing government healthcare expenditures as well as tax breaks. Doctors, hospitals, and insurers would continue to market their services on a competitive basis.
This is not a French, British, or Canadian solution. It’s an American, market-based solution that Republicans should love. It’s also a progressive solution that Democrats should love.
What is it with these guys and their overweening desire to protect the insurance companies?
A voucher? To the insurance company? Why? If you’re going to hand out money, give it to the doctors and the hospitals when they provide actual health care to someone. Why hand it to a useless middleman who will take a twenty or thirty percent cut to pay outrageous salaries, and then crap all over the sick patient?
Why? Because that’s the Conservative and the Republican way.
And who’s going to determine the size of these vouchers? Who’s going to determine the health status of an individual? Some government or insurance bureaucrat?
And doctors and hospitals do not market their services on a competitive basis. Ever see an ad with a list of prices the doctors are charging? Or how about a hospital ad pushing this week’s specials in heart surgery? As for insurers, hell, they’re thieves from the get go.
You bet it’s not a French, British, or Canadian solution. Those countries have healthcare that actually works to take care of the patient instead of insurance bigwigs.
And market-based solutions? Oh spare me the failed mantra. There’s forty-seven million people out there in America with access to the ‘market’. Guess what? They can’t afford it. They’ve got a choice, alright. Go broke paying for health insurance designed to deny them health care, or go broke paying medical bills. Some frigging market, Professor.
You want proper healthcare? Then go to single payer.
Free the doctors to deliver healthcare instead of filling out a wasteful myriad of insurance forms.
Free the people from the dread of illness that can take away their life savings, their home, their dignity, their freedom.
Free the business community from an increasingly unbearable burden of insurance costs that damages their ability to compete in the ‘market’ you conservative clowns value so highly.
You get sick, you go to the doctor. The doctor takes care of you and bills the government. The government pays him. Charge an affordable co-pay if necessary. Raise some taxes to pay for it. Quit wasting billions on a bloated, useless, ineffective military and on senseless wars. Tax the rich instead of giving them a free ride on the backs of the working people.
We don’t need insurance companies with their fancy buildings and overpaid CEOs and executives, and their office drones making healthcare decisions that doctors should be making.
Go back to your little ivory tower, Kotlikoff. And if you ever manage to pull your head out of your butt and get out and see how real people live and struggle and how their lives are screwed over by harebrained ideologies like yours, maybe then you can come up with something that works in the real world for real people.