23 January 2006

Health Care 101, Syllabus and Questions

In the war between man and machine I'm armed with a chopstick. The computer ate another post this morning, but the problem has hopefully been solved. The previous post was about the health care debates that seem to be raging across the media this morning, both in newspapers and blogs. Rather than bloviate on a topic in which I have zero expertise, save to mention that I know my balky knees will at some point cost me $22,000, I will leave it to the raft of experts that have chimed in on the topic:

Beginning with Ezra Klein, who gives a comprehensive rundown of the potential effects of the national plan being offered by the White House

Moving closer to home with Charley on the MBTA and the dumbfounding proposal put out by the Massachusetts Health Care Committee

As I mentioned, I'm by no means an expert in this field, but it seems fairly obvious that the HSAs proposed by the White House and outlined by Ezra Klein could lead to a catastrophic rise in bankruptcies or defaults. He writes that
Currently, more than half of all bankruptcies are due to medical costs. Post-HSA's, expect that number to rocket upwards. Lucky thing, then, that the financial industry, along with a compliant Congress, just made it harder and costlier to declare bankruptcy.
I can only assume then that health care costs would rise in order to recoup the money lost in defaulting accounts, which would lead to more defaults, and so on.

At the same time, I certainly don't see the fairness or system-efficiency in the Massachusetts proposal either.
[Senate President] Trav[aligni] has admitted the possibility of a personal mandate; and unfortunately, [Speaker] DiMasi seems to be no longer insisting on the non-insuring employers' assessment.

Worse yet, one of the ways they're considering to raise money is increasing the surcharge on those who do provide insurance.
Such a move appears to be a blatant disincentive to those companies providing insurance by penalizing them and an incentive to those who contribute little or nothing to continue to put the onus of care on the state.

Neither of these proposals seem like solutions to what will only become a larger problem in this country as the boomer generation ages and Generation X continues having children. If there are any readers out there (which there might not be) who have any ideas or know where one might find more information on the subject, drop a line or a link in the comments. I'll gather the information and post the findings later this week. I'm especially interested in any program that would make my knee operation less-expensive whenever I decide to have it.

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