Sometimes I Feel Like a Piece of Bologna

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Can We Put a Price on a Healthy Society?

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve received comments on some of my posts from apparent supporters of ObamaCare. I responded in the comments, but thought it might be helpful to bring a response to the main page. I think it’s safe to assume that the vast majority of my readers grapple on a regular basis with health care for themselves and their aging parents. For us, it isn’t hypothetical. It’s real life.

So, is this simple an economic issue? Can we put a price on a healthy society? First and most simplistically, yes. There is a price to everything and we have to set priorities. Failure to do that as a nation and individually has gotten us in the situation we're in today. We have to be responsible in spending and in developing programs for anything. And bottom line, each and every American needs to accept responsibility for himself or herself. Yes, we are used to having the best of everything, and frankly, I believe that the free market system can continue to provide a pretty good life for most of us. But we can't do and be and provide all things for all people and expect our nation to survive, especially if everyone isn't pulling their weight.

But more important, supporters make the assumption that ObamaCare will result in a healthier society. Most people who understand health care and economics believe that it will result in a much LESS healthy society. Let's be logical. First, take a look at the nations that have national health insurance. Look at the wait times for appointments and procedures. In England people are left waiting in ambulances for hours because the emergency rooms can’t keep up with the demand. In Canada (2007), citizens waited an average of 18.3 weeks for non-emergency surgery, 9.2 weeks for a specialty consultation, and 10.1 weeks for an MRI. Compared with the US, that's not an improvement. Second, let's be logical: there is simply no way to provide more care and cover more people for less money (or even with the same amount of money) without rationing. Can't be done. So how do we decide?

First, the problem isn't a 47 million-person problem, as the media and Democrats would have you believe. It's about a 12 million-person problem (those who want health insurance and can't get it and who are here legally). A 12 million-person problem does not require an overhaul of the entire system. It may require some tweaks to the existing system, but recent polls suggest that 83% of Americans are content with their health care. Like the old saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”

Second, although it’s hard to find comprehensive data, it’s safe to say that a majority of the health care problems are the result of life style choices. Until we as a people become more responsible for ourselves and the choices we make, any health care program is little more than a thumb in the dike.

I think it's time that we all take a deep breath, realize this is not a problem that needs to be solved yesterday, and logically and rationally fix only what's broken. What do you think?

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