Saturday, November 07, 2009

Not Even Close

One of the primary elements missing in the continuing health care debate is defining “cost”, and this cost element is missing from the debate because the subject matter has shifted from debate about care to debate about providing insurance to help cover the cost of care. Care seems to have become incidental, or at least secondary, to the entire debate even while Republicans and Democrats each suggest that their respective plans will lower cost; what cost or whose they are referring to seems uncertain.

We as American voters who have a stake in the outcome of the debate must learn to differentiate between the price of something we purchase and that something’s actual cost, especially in terms of health care and even health insurance. The cost is what it takes to make that product or service available. Its price determines whether or not the prospective buyer can have it and whether the provider will turn a profit from its sale.

It is hard to see how giving everyone insurance is going to address the actual cost of health care, and it is disingenuous to suggest that one “cannot put a price on good health care” because it is the price of such care that has a significant portion of the total economy held hostage and determines who can and who cannot have it.

“PelosiCare”, “ObamaCare”, and “ReidCare” each come with significant price tags. What they will eventually cost this nation remains to be seen because the cost of health insurance is relative to the actual cost of health care only with the number and size of claims factored in. That is, an insurance company does not pay our claims out of the goodness of its corporate heart; it pays our claims out of the money pooled from other premiums paid by those who are not making claims. To simplify it even further, we are purchasing health insurance which determines the price the insurance company will charge for premiums based on actuarial tables. The actual cost of the care has yet to be addressed; it is only the price we and our insurance providers choose to pay.

I think the Congress has not come close to addressing health care cost and likely will not … EVER, and the reason is simple: what is primary to each member of Congress is his or her reelection. And the confusion and do-nothingness of the Congress will continue because we continue to fall for their lines, hence the exceedingly high incumbency rate. It is the price we pay for complacency, but its cost has yet to be measured.

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