Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Insurance for Everybody

Today I am simply documenting the times.  I have nothing very insightful to say that other, better writers have not already said better than I on the subject.  But how can I, in this blog about the Trump presidency, fail to document "insurance for everybody"?

We don't yet know how the Trump presidency is going to play out.  For now it appears that one of the three below options are most likely to be true:

1. Most of what Donald Trump says is baloney, but some of it isn't baloney, and that's a good thing;

2. Most of what Donald Trump says is baloney, but some of it isn't baloney, and that's a bad thing;

3. Donald Trump is going to be a conventional Republican President who just happens to say the first thing that comes out of his mouth at all times, posing grimly hilarious political scrambling and face-saving.

So far my money's on option # 3, but I'm certainly willing to be proven wrong.

I'd love to get "insurance for everybody".  That sounds optimal.  Make it happen, President-elect Trump!  You will win a lot of converts if you can pull that off.

The thing is - it will be hard going for your political party, which desperately wants to destroy "socialized medicine".  We know from this very history of this country that the free market does not lead to insurance for everybody.  It is quite simple to understand why: the main priority of a private insurance company is to make a profit.  It is not profitable to ensure people who will actually need medical treatment.  Profit can only be derived by taking in more money from those insured, on a monthly basis, than is doled out by covering those same people's medical expenses.

That is why the only system that can provide insurance for everybody is socialized medicine.  That's it!  Only when the profit incentive is completely replaced with the priority of insuring everybody does it actually make sense to insure everybody.  Rocket science this most certainly is not.

If I was running an insurance company, and I told the shareholders of that company that my goal was to set profit-making aside and, instead, provide insurance to all, I would be fired, and rightfully so, because it is the incentive of a CEO to make a profit for his or her company's shareholders.  I am not running a charity, am I?  I am running a business.  It might be nice to provide insurance to everybody but only if it won't eat into the profit margin.

Obamacare / the Affordable Care Act was a way to game the system, to maintain the bloated system of private insurance because heaven forfend we actually abandon the profit incentive at any point as a civilization!  That would be communism, wouldn't it?  Can't have that.

But even providing generous subsidies to individuals and then heavily penalizing them if they failed to purchase private insurance has been deemed too socialistic for Republicans, so putting Obamacare on the chopping block has been their Day One goal.

And yet, here is a President-elect of their own party not only saying he will provide insurance for everybody, but also saying that drug companies will be forced to negotiate lower Medicare and Medicaid prices!

There are only a few possible outcomes here:

1. Donald Trump pretends he never even said such a thing, and it dies as an issue;

2. Donald Trump pretends he never ever said such a thing, and it does not die as an issue;

3. The GOP actually ends up voting for a single-payer system, or something like it, because they've got to do what their President says.

I truly hope that option # 3 comes to pass.  Either way, it is going to be downright hilarious watching the GOP cope with Donald Trump's recent statements on healthcare.

As a reminder, let's not forget that just repealing Obamacare / the ACA and replacing it with nothing is likely to be a disaster for tens of millions:

The estimated increase of 32 million people without coverage in 2026 resulted from three changes, the budget office said. About 23 million fewer people would have coverage in the individual insurance market, it said. Roughly 19 million fewer people would have Medicaid coverage. And these changes would be partly offset by an increase in the number of people with employment-based insurance.

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