September 18, 2007

How to Talk Without Saying Anything

JohnDavid sent me a link to Hilary Clinton's website today. Specifically, he linked me to the page that contains her plan for revolutionizing the American Healthcare system.

I'd like the point out that there are a lot of words on this page. There is a fair amount of copy dedicated to her "American Health Choices Plan" and there are lots of words sort of describing it and they definitely tell us that it's a good thing, and yet I don't see any details about what this plan is, exactly.

Hillary's American Health Choices Plan covers all Americans and improves health care by lowering costs and improving quality. It speaks to American values, American families, and American jobs.

It puts the consumer in the driver's seat by offering more choices and lowering costs. If you're one of the tens of million Americans without coverage or if you don't like the coverage you have, you will have a choice of plans to pick from and that coverage will be affordable. Of course, if you like the plan you have, you can keep it.

* Affordable: Unlike the current health system where insurance premiums send people into bankruptcy, the plan provides tax credits for working families to help them cover their costs. The tax credits will ensure that working families never have to pay more than a limited percentage of their income for health care.

* Available: No discrimination. The insurance companies can't deny you coverage if you have a pre-existing condition.

* Reliable: It's portable. If you change or lose your job, you keep your health care.

How does it do all of this? Blank-out.

Who pays for all of this care? Blank-out.

If the direct consumer does not pay for the costs incurred, how can this plan possibly reduce the costs of medical care? Blank-out.

In the spirit of... well, masochism, I downloaded the PDF description of her plan to see if I could glean any details from there.

I can't see anything in it that would reduce medical costs. I do see lots of things that will send our health care system spiraling into the abyss of socialistic degradation and decay.

Here's a short list of things that immediately pissed me off. It's by no means comprehensive, but it is illustrative of the economic ignorance inherent in her proposal:
Without creating new bureaucracy, the Menu will be part of the Federal Employee Health Benefit Program (FEHBP)...
I'm so happy that Americans won't have to shoulder the burden of another bureaucracy. That was obviously my first concern when I realized that my income was about to start dropping to support free-loaders and the nearly-dearly departed.

Eliminating Insurance Discrimination
"Discrimination" in this proposal means restricting insurance companies from mitigating crippling costs brought on by high-risk individuals. Apparently, Clinton believes that insurance companies have been capriciously raising their premiums above market value (such as the market is) to support their runaway profit margins and wild marketing campaigns. When was the last time you saw a really awesome commercial for insurance?

Limiting Premium Payments to a Percentage of Income
This is code for price controls. Please review the history of price controls before I throttle my keyboard.

Promoting Shared Responsibility for Large Employers
Let's seeeee... the price of offering medical insurance to employees is going to rise. What could possibly go wrong with that? I'm glad you asked.

Companies offer you medical insurance not because they like you but because it's presently cheaper to pay for medical insurance for their employees than it is for those employees to pay for it themselves.

Let's say that it costs me $5 to pay for my insurance by myself. That means I will ask my company to raise my salary by $5 to cover medical care. But if my company goes to my insurance company and says, "We have 100 people who want care." The insurance company will extend a group discount where it only costs my company $3 to pay for the same insurance for me. In effect, by offering me insurance, my company is paying me only $3 more but I get $5 value out of it.

If companies are obliged to pay more for insurance, then the value of providing medical insurance to employees becomes less attractive. If this plan were adopted, I would expect many companies to drop coverage and opt to pay employees a margin more in their salaries to take up the government coverage plan. I wonder if that has ever happened anywhere before?

If this plan is adopted in part or in whole it will be a disaster for patients, tax payers, businesses, doctors, and insurance companies alike. It took a staggering level of stupidity to write that proposal. The sad part is that from a marketing perspective it's written so well that it will be difficult for most people to see how idiotic it is -- even if they can figure out what the proposal actually says.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at September 18, 2007 02:50 PM | TrackBack

Damn. You made me look.

Posted by: Rational Jenn at September 18, 2007 03:48 PM

Okay, so last election we were concerned about the near to medium range danger of falling into theocracy. Presumably, we still are/ought to be.

So which is worse? Theocracy or socialism?

God, I'm so depressed - I don't know why I even bother to discuss this issue. :(

Posted by: Rachel at September 18, 2007 07:07 PM

I think it's theocracy due to the sheer size and success of the concerted movement to make it happen.

Posted by: Flibbert at September 18, 2007 09:12 PM

I agree. One can only call a plan that eliminates meaningful choices, is dangerous to your health, and is decidedly un-American the "American Health Choices Plan" for so long. The whole "America is a Christian nation" thing, though... People buy that. More importantly, they don't question it.


Posted by: Qwertz at September 18, 2007 11:25 PM

So you aren't taking seriously the chatter about socializing medicine? (Qwertz, Flib, anyone)

Posted by: Rachel at September 19, 2007 04:40 PM
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