As private homeowners insurance is, once again, about to be bailed out of extinction, as the banking industry and Wall Street repeat all of the vile, clandestine practices that won them their bailouts, Republicans scream for “smaller government.” Appropriate sized government cannot be afforded according to experts like Sarah Palin. I must admit that I am quite nearsighted and require bifocals, but as long as I can wipe the bulls__— off of my lenses, I can see some truth when it stares me in the face.
Interpret or corrupt the facts as one may, they are simple and glaring sometimes. Hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars were doled out by an incompetent and confused federal government to bail out the banks and Wall Street; hundreds of billions in entitlements were foolishly donated to the likes of Halliburton, Exxon Mobil and rich munitions companies and for 200,000 Republican backed carpetbaggers in the Middle East. Now, every few years, after hurricanes, floods or tornadoes, billions of dollars in aid are required to make up for the sorry inadequacies of private homeowners insurance companies. All of these institutions are sustained by what survivors of “The Great Depression” called “the dole,” money doled out by the government to save starving workers in their hour of need.
Now, the Republican Party has introduced a new concept: Every phase of big business is eligible to be “on the dole.” The concept was initiated amidst the vulgar corruption of a great president’s Alzheimer’s Disease ridden second presidential administration. Greedy profiteers, led by people like Dick Cheney, popularized the “privatization” of government functions. While the innovative and often brilliant Richard Nixon semi-privatized the U.S. Post Office, making it into an overall efficient and affordable enterprise, these profiteers sought to privatize everything they could for only one reason: to garner huge profits for their families and friends! Costs might increase tenfold with no improvement in function, but there were those really huge profits to be made. Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan could cost an extra trillion dollars or two with private engineers, radio operators and mechanics making ten times the salaries paid to servicemen doing the exact same work. Private mercenaries, too, could collect millions, billions of extra dollars much of which could be poured back into Republican campaign coffers.
Today, clearing the fog from my lenses, I see private health insurance, another anachronism from the 1950’s, soon to be dependent on the “government dole.” Permitted to collude and to fix insurance premium rates, companies that could previously pay all of their operating costs with “investment profits,” saw their investments shrink. To maintain their goal of saving all premiums as profit, they sought massive increases in premiums. Most state insurance commissioners, lackeys of the industry, have complied with their requests and health insurance companies continue to make huge profits. There is one unforeseen problem. There is a limit, unfortunately, as to how much one can pay for private health insurance. Sooner or later, even “the rich,” as foolish Democrats call people earning over 250,000 dollars a year, will not be able to afford the many tens of thousands of dollars demanded for even mediocre yearly coverage.
The Republican answer: A temporary means of keeping private healtcare insurance alive; they will “go on the dole” like all of the other major industries. They will honor preexisting illnesses and not cancel patients costing too much in benefits if the federal government will place these people in special pools and help with their care. In that way, the companies can still make hefty profits by directing their care to only the healthiest patients. The government can help with the rest! Instead of the periodic bailout, theirs will be a continuous bailout. They will survive as long as the govrenment does, “on the dole.”
While the Republicans desperately try to save the private healthcare insurance industry from oblivion, the best they can do is delay the inevitable. Ironically, the misnamed “Obamacare,” the under researched fiasco incompetently authored by Nancy Pelosi, represents an even worse attempt to temporarily delay the demise of private health insurance. When private costs are so expensive that more and more people are forced to turn to the government, there simply will be no private healthcare insurance industry. Instead of even a half hearted attempt to clean up hundreds of billions of dollars in annual Medicare waste and overspending, to show that socialized medicine could at least potentially work, she and other mostly self serving Democrats crafted an overly complicated tribute to their favorite lobbies. They did the Republicans’ job for them, helping to delay the demise of private healthcare insurance.
As far as I am concerned, the solution is also inevitable. The government must “own” national healthcare insurance and the private companies need to manage it. State and federal agencies have already shown how badly equipped they are to run health insurance. Expert bureaucracies already exist which, if rewarded for properly managing healthcare instead of being encouraged to make illicit profits, can save the American people trillions of dollars. What’s more, it would relieve the enormous and unfair burden that has been placed on American businesses, the virtual “health insurance tax” which prevents us from competing with the rest of the industrialized world..
Allen Finkelstein, D.O.