Sunday, March 04, 2007

a new tax, because universal coverage isn't free

Insurers slice rates on health premiums - The Boston Globe--Interesting story in the Boston GLOBE about Deval Patrick tuning up Mitt Romney's mandatory health coverage. There is no magic here; there are no miracles. From the pricing I see in the article, this is pretty much a market rate, and it feels a bit on the high side. I see no subsidy or benefit of volume pricing. I wonder if this is more of a welfare plan designed to support the Massachusetts health industry than it is universal coverage to spread risk fairly and bring about an improvement in public health.

Also, I would like to know from the journalist (Jeffrey Krasner can be reached at the cost of opting out, in dollars, for the same hypothetical people for whom they quote the premiums. That would be balanced reporting. These paid writers need to start earning their keep and not leaving it up to the public dialogues of the blogosphere to extract the facts and frame the issues as they should be framed.

We need to start talking about truly catastrophic insurance coverage to cover the big bills, cash-only fee-for-service care with uniform price schedules for most other procedures, and public-health-clinics for maintenance and wellness programs. If we want to have a health tax, then instead of putting it off soley on the people, we can also put it off on anybody who sells things that make us fat or sick or crippled--vendors of soft drinks, stores that sell cheap plastic shoes, smoking supplies (again), fast-food emporiums, publicly traded corporations who load foodstuffs up with preservatives to prolong shelf life or stretch things out with high fructose corn syrup to maximize profits, dealers who sell raggedy used cars--in short, anybody who now profits from selling a product whose health benefits to the buyers have been reduced to increase the bottom line.

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