September 9, 2009

Nancy Reagan Was Right: Just Say No-Bama

My father worked hard all his life. After high school, and a four-year stint in the Army, he came home to work for the City of Los Angeles. Paving streets for the Department of Public Works was grueling, back-breaking work; but it paid well, it put food on the table and a roof over my head.

Back in the 1960s the City offered a generous benefits package, including health insurance from Kaiser Permanente. We had what was called “E” coverage, the most comprehensive plan imaginable. No deductibles, no co-pays, nothing out of pocket. Need eyeglasses? Covered. Prescriptions? Covered. Surgery, wheelchair, ambulance ride? You want it, you got it. But before you run out to enroll for an “E” policy, forget it. This level of coverage cannot be had today, anywhere, at any price.

Health coverage is, of course, one of the most compelling political issues of our day. We are told that 47 million people in our nation are uninsured, and that we as a compassionate civilized society must come to their rescue. And perhaps we should. But as we debate the merits of various proposals, it is imperative that we have an honest discussion. And that begins with getting the facts straight.

So where did that all-important 47 million number come from? It’s from an annual report from the Census Bureau. But as they say, the devil is in the details. So let’s take a closer look at these numbers, shall we?

According to this report, about 10 million of these uninsured are illegal aliens. Subtract these squatters who have no standing to demand anything from the US Government and over a fifth of this crisis disappears.

So the real number is 37 million, right? Not even close. Even Hillary Clinton, our foremost champion of nationalized health care, has conceded that 25% of the uninsured can afford health insurance but choose not to buy it. (This includes young healthy people who don’t think they need it, and the wealthy who can easily pay full-price in cash when the need arises.) The Census Bureau estimates that number at around 17 million, or more than a third of the total.

Alright, so the real number is closer to 20 million. Or is it? Hardly, because we’re still not done dissecting the Census Bureau numbers.

Suppose you quit your job, and immediately start another. Your new employer might offer a wonderful benefits package, but you’ll have you wait a few months before it kicks in. In the meantime the Census Bureau will count you (and millions of other new hires) as “uninsured.” Technically true, but it’s not quite the calamity situation that many would have us believe.

Medicare is available to all senior citizens, but many who are eligible just don’t sign up. Others have ready access to free or inexpensive benefits through Medicaid or some other state or local program. And of course, no one can be turned away from an emergency room. But because they don’t actually go out and purchase a policy, the Census Bureau counts them as uninsured.

So after we account for all of these phantom indigents, how many real uninsured do we have? Some estimates place that number at anywhere from 8 to 10 million, but no one really knows for sure.

In every press conference and interview, Mr. Obama and his deputies insist that their new plan will not extend coverage to illegal immigrants. And yet they continue in repeating that fictitious number that includes them.

The Anointed One has promised that he can drastically reduce the cost of healthcare if we only allow him to introduce a little “competition” into the marketplace, in the form of a government-run insurance company. In other words, he wants to establish a business with bottomless pockets, an unaccountable entity that can play by its own rules and will never have to make a profit. This isn’t competition, it’s blackmail.

Let us consider the federal government’s record to date. Medicare? Broke, and riddled with fraud. VA hospitals? A mess. Social Security? Don’t get me started. If any private company dared to operate accordingly, the feds would dispatch an army of bureaucrats to shut them down before you can reach the end of this sentence.

Past is prologue. Don’t be fooled.

My father died in January 1995, and Kaiser took care of him to the end. Even in retirement, he retained his full benefits. I should be so lucky.

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