Wednesday, September 09, 2009

An Itchy Post on Obama's Health Care Speech

I ended up biting my scales off and slithering nervously around the Snakepit Inc., trying to understand why I couldn't just sit down and write a straightforward post on the speech. I watched it and all, including those nasty Republican interruptions (could they have anything to do with the race of the president, hmmm).

But I can't just do the usual open-a-lymph-vein-and-write post. Cannot. And the reason is that this happens to be a field I know. It's like someone showing me their brand new car and pointing out the exquisite detailing while all I can think of is the crappy engine under the hood. So what I really want to write about is the engine. The speech, however, did not give enough information for me to model the events. Hence the itchiness.

As a short summary, I think the cost aspects of the proposal will not be good but the access aspects probably are satisfactory. We are going to revisit the high care of health costs until Americans get over their fear of the single-purse model of health care provision.

Will that ever happen, I wonder? I listened to the BBC news on the speech tonight and giggled at the British reporter's inability to understand the arguments about socialism and such in this country, as if just having a public option would bring the ghost of Stalin back to life (with bloody fangs, too). One person the program interviewed mentioned the American distrust of the government as something self-evident. It may well be, but what about the distrust of large insurance companies and monopolized medicine? True, bureaucracy can be a problem with the government but the insurance forms I'm filling in right now are not exactly non-bureaucratic. And we have learned of the denial of care not from some communist bureaucrats but from our friendly insurance providers.

The fear of the public option is odd given that over fifty percent of all health care expenditure already takes place via federal, state or local governments, and although only the VA does more than hand out money to private companies, it is still a fact of the American life that government is the biggest individual player in health care. So why pretend that this is not the case?

Sigh. I will probably never be able to really understand this particular aspect of the U.S. culture. But I can certainly tell you that neither illegal immigrants nor malpractice suits are anywhere near sizable contributors to the high health care costs in this country. They may have political power, but getting rid of all malpractice suits and denying care to all illegal aliens would save very little money.

Does that make any sense? Yes, the car looks great! But no, that doesn't matter very much until I can take it for a test-drive. And I haven't got the keys yet.