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A Big, Fat, Beautiful, MESS

By Linda Stockton

President Trump, in speaking about the details of the Republicans healthcare bill, stated that it would be a “Big, fat, beautiful, negotiation,” to get the bill passed and that the result was going to be something “terrific.”  For conservatives, this is white noise intended to drown out the fact that they have reneged on their promise for seven years to repeal Obamacare. Not replace it with yet another monstrosity which will ultimately fail. The Republicans have done what was thought to be impossible…they have taken the worst possible program, Obamacare, and made it worse.

There is no fixing something that is beyond repair. There is no saving something that is already in a death spiral. There is no socialist plan that is viable in the Constitutional Republic. We either have mandated government-run healthcare, or we have a free market system. The two cannot co-exist. Conservatives understand this and have been loyal to their conservative values. Republicans in Congress, however, have not. They have switched their narrative into the repeal and replace rhetoric that President Trump favors as if there is no difference. The difference could not be more stark.

There have been plans, and programs, and ideas, and suggestions for how to make something, anything, work in the United States as it supposedly works in other nations. The problem is that none of them work with our democratically held ideals. Why? Because no other nation is like the United States. And that is why we are exceptional. To buy into the fallacy that we can begin to establish socialized programs without falling into socialism is disingenuous. And dangerous.

Let’s take a look at one of the ideas that are blatantly false and has been thrown out as an example of why healthcare should be mandated. Auto Insurance. Going on the premise that everyone has an automobile and that everyone has, or MUST have insurance, let’s break down how that actually works and how that would equate with health insurance. Assuming that the body is the vehicle, preventative medicine is maintenance, and serious illness is an auto accident, here is an analogy:

You have a bright shiny new car. You take care of it, wash it, get regular oil changes etc. Even more important, you are a really good driver and you have never had an accident…in fact, you’ve never had so much as a parking ticket. Your insurance company loves you! You get a low rate because of your impeccable history. Although you are young and inexperienced, and there is a slightly higher rate, it is lowered as you gain years and experience and you couldn’t be happier.

Now, let’s say there is a guy who drives a vehicle which is 30 years old and he does not take care of it…at all. It hasn’t had an oil change or even a good wash in forever. Not only that, but the owner doesn’t really know how to drive very well. He has been involved in numerous accidents. His old vehicle has been repaired time and time again..at great cost…and he has chronic neck and back problems because of all of his auto accidents. Not only that, most of the accidents are his fault…only, he doesn’t really have the money to pay for all the traffic fines. Plus, a couple of his collisions have caused injury to others for which the insurance company has had to settle with the claimant’s attorneys. His rates are outrageously high.

Then, of the sudden, out of the blue, your insurance rates triple. Not only that, you no longer get rental reimbursement or free towing if you have an emergency. You have done nothing different. You are still that responsible auto owner and driver. But now, your insurer has been forced to accept all-comers. Instead of your insurer being able to screen potential insured’s driving records and assess the fair market value of the vehicles they have to insure, they have been mandated by law to accept all vehicles and their owners…regardless of who they are and how they drive. Including the hapless driver described above. This has a devastating effect on the risk pool. Now, instead of you paying for your own risk and other drivers who are responsible and cautious, you are paying for people who are riskier. So, because your insurer has now been mandated to cover this guy, your rates have skyrocketed. And there is nothing you can do about it. Because it’s the law.

This other guy is what an auto insurer would call high risk, and, in fact, would likely drop coverage. At some point he would be deemed uninsurable by a regular insurance company and only be insured by a “high-risk” insurer and his rates would be astronomical. Your insurer would be able to control their risk pool and manage your rates according to your driving record, vehicle maintenance etc…This is the free market. But this is not what a healthcare mandate is proposing. This healthcare bill is an open risk pool…all-comers. What it is asking, is that healthy people (good drivers) pay higher rates to help cover costs for sick people (high-risk drivers) and that is socialism.

If healthcare were set up as auto insurance is, we would have a more fair system, with smaller risk pools. But those with chronic illness, or those who choose risky lifestyles, or those with catastrophic illness or injury, in other words, high-risk consumers, would pay those astronomical rates and would soon cry “foul!” Or, like we have now, they simply wouldn’t pay, they wouldn’t purchase coverage, and emergency rooms will continue to be used as a primary care office and general healthcare overall will continue to go up.

Like auto insurance, it is important that everyone has insurance. If you have a car it should be insured. You have a body…it should be insured. Not for oneself but for the equity of all. But there has to be a system where it can become accessible without government punishing the taxpayer for the inability of some to procure it on their own. So, right now, what we have is a big, fat, beautiful mess.

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