Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Slouching Towards Obamacare to be Born

Here's what the New York Times wants to know: Is Obamacare Too Complicated to Succeed?

Oh, for Pete's sake. How do you respond to something like that? "Yes." Unless, of course, you couch the definition of "success" in terms of "crushing, abject failure." In which case, it will go marvelously.

Some of the debaters' responses: "The Only Real Problem is Political," "It's Complicated, but Far Better Than Nothing" (that sounds like an excuse made in favor of a terrible romantic relationship), "It's Working in California" (so is statewide bankruptcy, but okay), and one from my homeboy Michael Cannon, "The Obstacle Is That Americans Don't Want It." But when did that ever stop Washington?

In the post "Fighting Obamacare, but Just to Fight Obama," J.D. Kleinke writes:

Yes, the law is complicated, but its core market mechanisms are no more complicated than what already works today in our employer-based, insurer-mediated, fee-for-service health care system and Medicaid program.

There it is again. Define "what already works." Is Kleinke actually suggesting that today's medical system is somehow desirable, or even really working? The ossified, opaque, hopelessly complicated, offensively expensive and bewildering American medical complex is an absolute joke. No advanced economy should have to deal with the type of superfluity and outlandishness of the U.S.'s health care system. Yet Kleinke is resolved.

Why is our health care system so awful? Let's do a case study. At the Farmer's Market, of all places, I can buy a product, pay with my debit card on an iPad, and choose whether or not to have them e-mail me a receipt for my purchase. I know how much I am paying for the product, and the transaction is simple, and easy, and overly transparent. It's a miracle of modern commerce that we absolutely take for granted.

Meanwhile, for months my health insurance company has been mailing me (on paper) two separate bills---one for my account, another for a phantom account under my name that charges much higher premiums and which they keep threatening to cancel if I don't pay. Repeated calls to Anthem have not resolved this issue; they just tell me to ignore the fake bills, because apparently nobody over there can stop them from coming. Also, I can pay my bills online, but only 9-5, Monday through Friday. Can you think of any other industry that keeps "normal" business hours for an online service? (The answer is no.) When you go to an emergency room, you have to fill out the same form every time, and you have to deal with four different people asking you the same identical questions four different times. No prices exist anywhere for any procedure; I recently got some tests done at a Patient First wherein the N.P. literally refused to even guess how much the battery would cost me.

Can you imagine if my farmers attempted to play the same game with a pound of ground chuck?

Of course, people will say "The healthcare industry is different," and "Purchasing food from farmers' markets is not the same as going to the emergency room." These people are wrong. Feel free to tell them this to their face, and repeatedly.

1 comment:

  1. Food for thought, and it was free. Another point: there are shady businesses that 'bait and switch,' or don't disclose hidden costs, or spring them on you once you've wasted a bunch of time getting to the checkout. But these businesses are often exposed and roundly excoriated. 12 On Your Side is happy to get involved to resolve these kinds of unfair practices. But somehow I don't see a lot of that with the way-more-expensive kinds of shell games in health care. Why is that?