Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Healthy thoughts

Nearly 50 million people now lack health coverage. That is about 20 percent of the United States population. The Kaiser Family Foundation released figures that healthcare premium costs have risen 78% in the last six years.

A leading presidential contender recently unveiled a plan that called for universal healthcare: Whereby every single American will have to be insured (or will have a decent chance to get insured) like the way you need auto insurance to drive your vehicle. I liked the plan (unveiled yesterday) for it simplicity:

  • Everybody will need to get healthcare insurance. They will need to go and buy insurance if their employer does not provide for the same. If they like their current plan, then stick to it – no-one is forcing you to change status quo if the current state serves well..

  • The premium and the cost of buying the insurance will be sold by the healthcare insurance companies based on a tiered model that is equated to an individual’s wealth and earnings.

  • The companies will not have the power to turn away people based on their pre-existing conditions – (which are a way by which most companies hedge their bets and make money off people’s well being). But then, you might ask - How are these companies going to make money? Well, they are going to charge cheaper rates for those in the lower economic strata and more expensive and higher rates for people who are wealthier (making more off the wealthy).

  • Additional shortfall in funding this plan will be provided by the government from money derived from rolling back the currently 'in vogue' tax cuts (the tax cut law that says 'if you are very rich, you get a huge tax cut, but pay taxes if you are poor' - in fact, the tax cut is higher, the richer you are - a very perverse logic that I still do not get).

Of course, criticism ranged from ‘socialized medicine is back’ to ‘un-necessary burden on the young to take care of the older more disease-prone strata’.

My response to some of the initial criticism crawling out of the woodwork will be that maybe in healthcare it might be a good time for a more equitable distribution of resources for the welfare of the common human being. Maybe we should stop differentiating between the rich and the have-nots… and provide for healthcare to all. It is a paradigm shift, but a much needed one.
To the second criticism, my question would be thus: Have the majority forgotten that it is a duty of the younger ones to look after their older? – Well, the older ones did it when they were younger – so why not repay it and let the ageing live out their lives in dignity.

I am sure that more and more criticism of this kind would drive noble sounding plans like the above into the swamp… But I had to write my bit…

Gilbert and George, 'Hope Rising', 28 hand colored gelatin silver prints in artists frames, 95" X 139", 1986


Anonymous said...

Is this Hillary's you are talking about??

Sunil said...

Yes, the plan announced the day before way Hillary Clinton's healthcare plan - the principles seem to be echoed by Edwards also... Whatever, the common elemts shout for universal healthcare for Americans and I think that is very much needed...