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Bob Dickson: Our real health care crisis

Right Here, Right Now

Posted: July 2, 2009 6:44 p.m.
Updated: July 3, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
If you are one of the 40 million Americans or so without health insurance and are holding your breath for nationalized health care, you can stop reading because this editorial will not persuade you.

You will never be moved off your support of this disastrous program because you will be its primary beneficiary should President Obama manage to ram it down our throats; you will be getting something for next to nothing.

I say next to nothing because I assume that if you don't work where insurance is a benefit and you can't afford to buy it out of pocket, you probably don't pay as much in taxes as people who do work at those jobs or who can afford to buy their own health insurance.

The bulk of the expenses for your health care will fall to someone else, and who ever turns down a free ride?

And if you are a politician who is banging the drum for this new program, you can stop reading too. You'll never be moved off of your support because by supporting it, you secure/bolster a vast base of voters who will likewise never be moved off of their support of you.

You're their Robin Hood. Your promises to dip into someone else's pocket and distribute what you find to them guarantees they will never vote you out because who ever kills the golden goose?

However, if you support nationalized health care because you believe it's "a good idea" and because it's "the right thing to do," read on.

The first thing you need to understand is that health insurance is not a right. It's no more a right than vacation insurance is a right. It's an option - a smart option, but still just an option.

You have the right to secure health insurance. You also have the right to live without it.

In the last 60 years, health insurance has become a part of most employers' compensation packages.

But even the 40-hour-a-week employee does not have the right to health insurance. Employers are not bound by law to offer it. It's just a benefit.

Second, health insurance is not supposed to be what it has become. The notion that it should cover all health-related expenses is relatively new and completely misguided. Health insurance is exactly what it says it is: insurance for your health.

If something catastrophic should occur, you break a bone, you find yourself in need of extended, expensive treatment, insurance is there to protect you from going bankrupt. Otherwise, you pay your routine expenses/visits out of pocket.

Today, however, people want health insurance to pay for everything from Vioxx to Viagra, sore throats and slight fevers. People run to the doctor at the slightest provocation because, well, why not? It doesn't cost anything more than a co-pay.

The average American can't keep away from the doctor. He's addicted to free health care.

And now we are proposing to spend more than a trillion dollars (that's $1,000,000,000,000) to feed this addiction and to guarantee this right that isn't a right.

Worse than that, we are going to let the government run it. And, really, is there much of a track record to boost confidence that this time around, our government will run a stellar operation?

Where's the money you've been contributing to Social Security all these years? How's MediCal working out? How easy is it to deal with VA benefits? How efficient are our public schools? How about our banking watchdogs on Capitol Hill?

Look, I'm not suggesting that the health care system in place today is so great. It's a mess. HMOs wield too much power. Costs are soaring. Doctors are making less and less. It needs fixing.

But let's not be foolish. Fix it by making it consumer-based like it used to be. Carry catastrophic insurance, but cover the rest yourself. Cut out the middleman (your HMO/PPO) and take responsibility for your own health care.

Shop around when you need to see a doctor. Ask about prices, just like you do with any other purchase. Make it competitive.

The answer lies in taking more control, not less. Don't cede sovereignty of your health care to government bureaucracy. That's not a healthy decision.

Bob Dickson, a 12-year Santa Clarita resident, is an award-winning journalist and former sports writer for The Signal. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of these organizations or those of The Signal. "Right Here, Right Now!" appears Fridays in The Signal and rotates among local Republican writers.

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