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Bridging the Divide

The costs of health law can’t be sustained

Insurance is all about risk. If there were no risks in life, there would be no need for insurance. However, no one in their right mind would underwrite a risk they knew ahead of time is more than likely to happen. The premiums would be prohibitive even if an underwriter was willing to write it.

In any discussion about health care, we must differentiate between “care” and “insurance.” People often say one when they are really referring to the other. In the U.S. the “care” is superior, probably the best available anywhere. People come here from all over the world to benefit from our superior care, including from Canada and the UK. Their “universal health care” systems are really “universal health insurance” systems which have led to inferior care for most people in those countries.

We already have two “universal” type health insurance programs in this country even before the Affordable Care Act: Medicaid and Medicare. The first is an outright welfare program for the poor and the second was supposed to be an insurance program for the elderly. However, the premiums were set so absurdly low that it could never possibly sustain itself long term. So, even though it is popular, it has basically turned into a subsidy/redistribution program and is, understandably, broke.

Part of the reason medical insurance in this country became so messy and the care itself became so expensive is that within these two programs, the government became the one-payer and its administration became so cumbersome that bills sent to the government were easy to “pad.” There was plenty of room for corruption by the medical industry and costs of care skyrocketed. But, nobody cared because no one saw the real costs. All efforts to fix the mess were merely band aids rather than real solutions. For instance: what about better oversight, tort reform and allowing competition including the purchase of health insurance across state lines. The tax code could also be changed to provide those who do not get health insurance through their employer, with a tax credit of, say, $2,500 to buy insurance on the open market. This would level the playing field by ending the tax code’s discrimination against the uninsured.

One of the most fundamental fixes would be to remove the thousands of government regulations requiring health insurance carriers to include things in policies that their customers don’t want or need that cause premiums to increase. Remember, if no one is watching costs and subsidies guarantee care for all, then these systemic problems causes the health system to be used far more than it otherwise would be — pushing up the costs even more. None of these fixes would be as costly as the current mess, but neither political party seems to be to looking out for the individual.

Unfortunately, the Affordable Care Act not only does not address any of these issues, but it has added 2,700-plus pages of new regulations. When read carefully — please read it carefully — it guarantees absolute control over not only all your personal information, but your personal health care. It calls for 16,000 new IRS agents to enforce the mandates, which might be a little wake-up call about where this law is headed. The law also counts on the young to pay more for themselves than they can afford or need. It also counts on the young to subsidize the elderly. This at a time when they are leaving college burdened with debt while moving into an uncertain job market. How can this work? Whichever 2 or 3 things you like about this law, one thing is absolutely certain; this country cannot afford it. Our country already borrows 40 percent of what it spends every year. However one crunches the numbers, ObamaCare will be very costly in many ways

Our Tuesday group studies historical trends in order to gauge where we stand today in relation to the past and determine how we got here and where we are going. There are some solid ways to fix the health insurance system, a few of which are mentioned above. However, since we don’t see that happening from the top down any time soon and we are realistic, we look for ways to take care of ourselves and others within the reality we face. This includes not depending quite so much on a system that is clearly broken.

Along that line, a few of us have been studying alternative/complementary medicine including, but not limited to, frequency specific microcurrent machines, massage, ayurveda, homeopathy, and “food as medicine.” Recently I discovered a dietary regime called alkalizing. This is a discipline which holds that if the body is too acidic, disease is more likely to thrive. If the body is alkalized, disease cannot survive. I must admit, I have not been totally adherent, but it makes sense and as I improve my diet, I feel better. If I can remain healthier longer, it’s better anyway.

Hope Taylor lives in Peterborough.

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