Government Run Healthcare Makes Sense
With this type of outlook it might then surprise you to know that I favor a national health care plan, either a public "option" or the conversion of the current system into a single payer program similar to the Canadian system.
Why in the world would I feel that way? Simple; for the last 20 years I have had the responsibility over group health plans and have had to deal with insurance carriers.
In the last 10 years the health insurance industry has grown more profitable, has consolidated to just a handful of carriers, and makes literally life-and-death decisions about your health care based upon profit-and-loss considerations. In years past we as corporate Plan Sponsors have been able to influence some coverage decisions by using the leverage of taking our business elsewhere. That influence erodes more each year and has never been less than it is now. That's because there's almost nowhere else to go and the carriers know it.
Our last health care negotiations were hurt by the fact that only four multi-state fully-insured carriers remain: United Healthcare, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Aetna, and Cigna. No matter which of these is your carrier, that means you're only marketing to the other three. As a rule, Blue Cross has the highest quotes by about 30% as they focus on margin rather than volume: if you want a better price than your current carrier that means you're marketing to only two others. During our recent re-marketing effort (to see if we could get a better deal than we got at our April renewal) we had UHC as our incumbent and Blue Cross was immediately out of the running due to price. The Aetna and Cigna representatives' main questions during our negotiations was "what's the other guy's quote?"
In this scenario its no wonder that the insurance industry is howling about the prospect of a government "option". Entry into this monopolistic and recalcitrant marketplace by a strong competitor would change the landscape to favor people rather than carriers.
Personal liberty would also be increased through a government plan because I believe many people with serious health conditions stay with their employers because our health care system is employer based. To change jobs and risk losing yours, or to start you own business and become self-employed means risking becoming uninsured. According to Dave Ramsey, even though foreclosures have been the highest on record this year personal bankruptcies due to unpaid medical bills are four times that of bankruptcies due to home foreclosure.
I'm loathe to depend on government for anything. But with government I have an elected representative that I can call if my government health plan isn't working. Who do I call if my carrier cheats me on coverage or overcharges me? The current health care system is dictating who can and cannot afford coverage, what is covered, and (since its employer based) where you can work. As such, I would suggest to you that the solution to this lack of freedom is, paradoxically, the government. I can elect my representatives but I'm stuck with my UHC rep.