Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Siren Song of Government Healthcare

When I was a child, there was a 4 o'clock movie on TV every afternoon. One particular day, I was watching as Kirk Douglas had himself tied to the mast of an ancient ship while the crew plugged their ears and began to row. Old Kirk then began writhing, attempting to free himself. The point of the whole exercise had to do with the Sirens whose song lured many a brave, besotted sailor to the rocks.

I am reminded of that scene when I hear how government is going to take care of us all, our healthcare insurance in particular. Had I not had an aging parent, I, too, would be oblivious of what that means. Most people think that government managed insurance will be just like the employer funded variety. I'm not too sure about that. Seems to me that it's going to cost a whole bunch more of money to administer and there won't be enough money to fund that level of coverage. Where am I getting this idea? Medicare.

Democrat politicians love to brag about Medicare. How good is it, though? If you are hospitalized, you pay the first $1068. Trust me, that's a bit in senior citizen Social Security dollars. If you are hospitalized again three months later, you will pay that amount once again. What about doctor visits? Medicare pays 80% of their allowed amount. Unless your doctor accepts assignment, which fewer and fewer do, you will be billed the difference between the $6 Medicare pays and what the doctor bills. Multiply that by the numbers of doctors you will have to frequent and deduct it from your $1500 dollar a month Social Security payment. Drugs? Until the prescription benefit was added by that heartless Bush administration, you had to pay all. It was not unusual to have bills in the hundreds of dollars every month.

Yes, Medicare covers senior citizens whose premiums in the private sector would be astronomical and makes possible coverage through a private HMO, a much better deal. Thus it is a necessary evil. But reality, particularly in this economy, for the rest of us is that toes will be sticking out of that governmental blanket. Call me crazy, but I can't see us getting congressional type coverage unless we enslave the top 20% percent of earners.

A much more moderate approach would put together a commission to explore the situation, see what reforms could be implemented, how costs for everyone could be reduced. But, heck, I'm just a citizen who's paid her own insurance for years and had dealings with the medical establishment. What do I know?

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