One of the smears Republican opponents of heathcare reform have been pushing is the idea that the reforms passed by the House and under consideration in the Senate would “allow government bureaucrats to get between you and your doctor”, and make decisions about what treatment you can receive. In fact, this is an outright lie, put forth by interests that already do interfere with your doctor’s discretion and deny you care, for profit, and they’re pushing the lie because they don’t want people to know the bill bans any insurance provider—including the government—from dictating treatment options.
The proposed health insurance reforms DO NOT allow government bureaucrats to interfere with or scale back your care. Quite the contrary, the reforms would help ensure no one but patients and doctors make decisions about the course of treatment. In the United States, the average citizen now has far less ease of direct access to routine health treatment than in other industrialized democracies, due to insurers’ having built their business model around denial of care.
In fact, every major insurer in the US is scored for its “medical-loss ratio“, an evaluation of how much of every dollar in patient premiums ultimately goes to pay for health treatment or evaluation. In the twisted logic of the profit-centered system, insurers are rewarded by Wall Street analysts and investors for having a lower MLR score.
That means they pay less of every premium dollar for healthcare, which means they are being incentivized to become less efficient, devoting a higher percentage of their revenues to corporate costs and pushing premiums ever higher. This system has led to a perilous antimarket dynamic, where the aim of doing business in the health insurance industry has been warped into a deliberate effort to increase cost and reduce value for consumers.
The business model is so deeply flawed, insurers are relentlessly trying to reduce the total market of consumers paying into their revenue streams, in hopes of being able to further cut back the “losses” they experience as a result of actually doing what they are paid to do. The logic of healthcare reform is to correct these dangerous distortions of the market dynamic—dangerous, because they lead to reduced quality of care, severe economic fallout, worse health outcomes, and large numbers of preventable deaths.
The healthcare reform proposals before both houses of Congress, including their application of a “public option” for health insurance, are specifically designed to heal the market and allow it to function to the benefit of all stakeholders. In fact, Pres. Obama has been criticized by the progressive base for being so determined to institute reforms that are aimed at stregthening the market dynamic, because there is widespread skepticism as to whether a true market dynamic could work for the provision of healthcare.
Some even argue insurers’ relentless push to drop paying customers clearly illustrates their lack of desire or fitness to be part of the healthcare system.
Mike Huckabee is the latest Republican luminary to stain his own reputation of moral and intellectual seriousness by professing the outright falsehood that the proposed reforms would allow government bureaucrats to “come between you and your doctor”. It puts him in league with the other opponents of meaningful reform who evince no belief in the strength of their own arguments or their own ability to craft serious reform proposals and instead intend to commit to a stategy of using factually perverse and morally vacuous distortions in hopes of persuading voters to vote unwittingly against their own conscience or interest.
If you want to make sure no desk-jockey in some remote location is permitted to dictate to you or your doctor what treatment you can have, you want these reforms to pass, because your insurer—present or future—will no longer be able to interfere with treatment options, drop you because you actally need treatment or deny you coverage because you have a “pre-existing condition”.
Right now your access to quality, affordable care is aggressively rationed by corporate interests; those same interests have spent $400 million of your money to make sure reform fails, because the reforms under consideration would benefit you, the patient, by curbing such abusive profit-driven rationing. Neither Mike Huckabee nor any Republican talking about tax cuts to cure healthcare has any plan to deal with that ethical atrocity, the flagrant denial of care even to those who have already paid for it. The reforms on the table would do that.
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Originally published November 11, 2009, at CafeSentido.com