Tuesday, October 25, 2011

next up: free healthcare and money growing on trees!

I recently ran into a former co-worker in an electronics store. For about a year, we worked together in a call center for a health insurance company. Back then, he'd talk occasionally about how healthcare should be free and Obama would fix everything and insurance companies are evil and sometimes he just talked about moving to Canada. Mostly, though, he talked about his belief that healthcare should be a free-for-all entitlement. I knew he-- I'll call him Shaggy-- had some pretty anti-capitalistic ideas, but I couldn't help notice that he fell in with the ranks of the rest of the paycheck whores to collect his piece of that "morally bankrupt" pie. I wonder why he didn't refuse the pay on the moral basis that people should be doing customer service in the healthcare industry for free?

Shaggy left the company about the time I did, and when I saw him at the store last week, I asked how he was and what he was doing now, and isn't it great not to work in that pressure-cooker setting any more. He started talking about how it was terrible, the insurance companies in general, and that he's doing much better now, making more as a part time sales person and going to school full time with expected graduation in May. I asked his field of study, and he said it's marketing. He also made a point of saying that he'd sucked up to influential people at the insurance company-- whether he liked them or not-- so that he'd have politically well-placed people in his corner, should he need backup. I realize that is pretty typical-- to align oneself with the perceived power in a situation-- but I found that wildly hypocritical, considering his general stance was that HE has a higher standard of ethics than your average company (or ANY insurance company) or individual. I also sort of pictured him putting his marketing know-how to use with 12 monkeys style propaganda and attempts at social engineering, because it's hard to imagine him actually doing something constructive with relation to marketing.

I can't believe that anyone with more than two neurons firing in their brain can say that all healthcare should be free -- how do they propose that all the millions of nurses, medical assistants, janitors and lab techs be paid? Do they think that these people-- like all doctors-- should act purely out of altruism and with no personal regard to finances or securing their own futures and that of their families? Do they want to pay extra thousands per year on their utility bills to fund the utilities of health care facilities? Where the hell do they think all that money will come from?

And if healthcare should be free, then what about all the other fabulous crap in the world-- why should anyone have to pay anything for anything? The idea of anything being an entitlement is pretty much unsupportable, in my opinion.

Life is not fair, nor should it be. No guarantee of all the same opportunities will ever guarantee uniformity of outcome, because we each will make different choices in the exploitation of our opportunities in life. Shaggy may choose a part-time job based on lifestyle flexibility and-- presumably-- no drug-testing, whereas I need the stability of a full-time job with some access to the communal benefit of a shared group insurance pool. Call it whoredom or whatever you want, but I have to base my choices of jobs on what I know about my own life and my own needs. If I were very young and extremely healthy, then maybe health insurance wouldn't be such a high priority, but then again, I made sure I had insurance throughout my twenties, so I suppose it was a priority then, too.

I'm baffled by the general ignorance of people who don't understand how insurance companies function, and it's even more dazzling when you consider that some of those people have worked for insurance companies. A group of people- generally with a common employer-- pool their resources to make an insurance group which negotiates their own allowed rates with doctors and facilities, and in that way, there is a mutually beneficial arrangement. The drs and facilities know that working with individuals in this group and giving them a discount will offset the lower pricing by a lowered risk of not being paid for those services. Likewise, this insured group will have lower rates for premiums and services in part because they are statistically unlikely to be running around and getting involved in drive-by shootings and streetfights and holdups at the liquor store. Low risk, relatively speaking. Want lower premiums and lower rates on your insurance? When applying for jobs, act like a professional, use proper English and deodorant, eschew facial tattoos and don't apply for companies that hire gang-bangers or other reprobates and you'll be half-way there.

My sister says that insurance is all a gamble-- you are gambling you will need insurance, and the insurance company is gambling you won't need it. I'm not saying everyone should have it free, and I'm not saying everyone should be forced to buy it for themselves.
I am saying that I want the power to make career choices for myself in the marketplace based on the availability of health insurance as part of a benefits package between me and my own private employer. There is a price I pay in that this has an impact on what I am actually paid by my employer and I take that into account when making career choices. For me, this is worthwhile and I am willing to pay that premium, but I sure as hell don't want to pick up the tab for the premiums for the self-indulgent wastrel gangbanger thugs or the ne'er-do-wells who are content to sit idle in a park in some sort of Occupy brand of bushwa.

And as for the marketplace and capitalism-- that potential to make money on inventions or techniques of treatment has been one of the greatest incentives for people to develop new drugs and new technologies related to the medical field and is one of the primary reasons why the USA was the cutting edge of medical advancement for most of the 20th century. In nearly all cases, these same great scientific and engineering minds belong to people who are not independently wealthy and need to make money to support themselves and their families-- why should some addle-witted hippie's moral (in)sensibilities dictate that these brilliant people should be prevented from profiting (or even just making a living) from their efforts in the medical field? Else, why would they bother with the medical field at all -- they can make money elsewhere with less red tape and social pressure. Thank goodness anyone still feels inspired to enter that field.

So, to try to gather all this mud back up into a ball-- I don't want the healthcare/insurance choice made for me, and I don't want to spend thousands of own money every year on health care and insurance, only to have more of my money confiscated by the government to cover the healthcare for someone who spent their thousands on spinning rims or a crunked grille. I'll stand by my choices, and I expect other people to have to stand by their own, as well.

Is that so much to ask?


Old NFO said...

Good post and excellent points Phlegmmy! And I agree with you completely!

BobG said...

"There is only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please. And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences."
- PJ O'Rourke

Evyl Robot Michael said...

Unicorns pooping rainbows!

Roscoe said...

Like most of the physicians of our generation, Mrs. Roscoe has a serious student loan payment due every month.

Anonymous said...

Preach on! My insurance is about to hit a grand per quarter to pay for maternity and Gyn stuff that I will never use so that someone else can get the Pill for free. Note I have never made a claim on this policy in the 15 years I've had it. No, I have no lower-cost options unless I go to a five-digit deductible, because I'm a contractor and have to get my own insurance.


Momiss said...

Amen sistah! Great post!
I think the problem is that the notion of "living within our means" has left us. Sadly. I predict it will make a big ole' comeback though. ;)