What would Voltaire say? Here we are facing the prospect of trying to cope with a catastrophic pandemic flu in a few months and we don’t have enough vaccine for everyone. Meanwhile, our government, through the department of Homeland Security and it’s countless subdivisions, has made plans for the distribution of what vaccine we might have. Meanwhile, our government is debating the merits of providing medical care via the commercial insurance industry or through some sort of “public” insurance program – the latter funded by taxes, which will not be raised , except on those people on whom they will be raised. Meanwhile, the government assures us that they have taken the “govern” out of government and they will not dictate what medical care we will receive via the public or private insurance programs.
Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control has published its “recommendations” for determining who will be allowed to receive flu shots before the pandemic sweeps over us. First of all, if you are over 64 years old you can forget it. You aren’t getting a pandemic flu shot. The good news is that you will get the shot for the “seasonal” flu – that’s the one that was expected to come around anyway. But the pandemic? You’ll have to take your chances because a cousin of this flu was around about fifty or sixty years ago and you probably, or could have been, or might have been exposed then. Therefore you might, perhaps, maybe still have some sort of antibodies to the half-century old cousin of the pandemic flu. So, bottom line: you’re out – unless, by some miracle there is some vaccine left over, in which case feel free to help yourself.
So, here we are. Sort of like being on the deck of the Titanic, knowing that our rudder is way too small, and we have nowhere to hide. Our government, the one that has promised it won’t meddle in our health care choices has already determined the order in which the lifeboats will be filled, regardless of whether you have expensive private insurance or not. So much for the Republican Party argument that private health insurance will keep us free of our government making our health decisions for us.
Speaking of health insurance, here is the way I look at it: Let’s suppose a bunch of people get together and decide to pool a bunch of money in a big pot – just in case one of them gets sick and they need a doctor. The money in the pot will be used to pay the medical bills for this unlucky person. Of course someone needs to take care of the pot, so we ask Fred to do that, and Fred says he will – if he can have 25% of the money in the pot. We say OK. That’s private health insurance.
On the other hand let’s suppose we all put some of our money in the pot and then we elect someone to watch the pot and handle the disbursements. It turns out we elect Charlie and we tell him that he can’t have any of the money in the pot, but we’ll pay him a salary of $10 a month. That’s a government insurance plan – where the money in the pot comes from taxes instead of insurance premiums. So which one is a better way to go? The first way is good old American Capitalism (with a capital C, which rhymes with P which…). The second is European Socialism. Which do you think is cheaper? Which has more money in the pot available for your health care? Which one will get you better health care? Actually, the record speaks for itself. People live longer in socialist-health-care Europe because they simply have better health care. Same thing with Japan – you can’t beat their welfare state health care. It’s that simple.
We are not going to have that.
Because the Blue Dogs and the Republicans like Tom better than Charlie we’ll be putting our money in Tom’s pot and then getting 3/4 of our money back for our health care needs. Even so, this private health care system will still be apparently be under the watchful eye and control of our government (as in the aforementioned “recommendation” for the CDC). So, even though we’ll have a completely private system (except, of course, for the VA system that is government run and is clearly the best health care system in the U.S.), people who don’t know you at all (like the people who work at Homeland Security or the CDC), or care about you personally will be making your health care decisions for you when it comes to things like pandemics, despite what you thought was going to happen when you bought that expensive private health insurance.
I guess it’s like Candide said: we need to cultivate our gardens. Frankly, I thought knee deep would have been enough.