Saturday, August 15, 2009

Which Demographics Will Benefit From the Proposed Health Care Reform?

After observing and absorbing the furor which has erupted in opposition to President Obama's health care agenda, I concluded that there are a number of inconsistencies and contradictions inherent to the opposition's argument. As a disclaimer, I'm not speaking from any particular point of view here; simply observing and applying a dose of logic.

First of all I must pose the question of who, exactly, stands to benefit most from a public health care option. Many of my acquaintances, in addition to many in the exasperated town-hall-attending population, are convinced that President Obama's purpose in pushing health care reform is to provide the poorest segment of the American population with free, or heavily subsidized, health insurance. Some of the more ignorant comments - which are not worthy of further examination - attempt to inject some sort of racial angle into the President's calculus.

Another cause for the anger being shown by many is the perception that Medicare will either be viciously trimmed, or in some strange instances, removed altogether. Simply stated, seniors hear the word "inefficiencies" in the Administration's rhetoric, and they immediately interpret this as code for "cuts to benefits".

Some people think that their ability to purchase good old private health insurance will be taken away by any reform effort. I'm not sure why anybody has arrived at this conclusion; most likely they are taking too seriously President Reagan's comments in which he likened a public option to a Trojan Horse, whose ultimate goal is to abolish the private health insurance industry altogether.

Who will benefit from the proposed health care reform? Perhaps the better question is, Who doesn't have health insurance right now? Well, upon turning 65, a citizen is automatically entitled to Medicare; seniors are obviously not the beneficiary. What about the poor? Well, they are eligible for Medicaid; assuming of course that they are eligible under State guidelines. Each State has a separate set of guidelines, but the bottom line is that most people at or below 133% of the federal poverty line will be eligible for Medicaid. For perspective, there are roughly 2.4Million eligible Medicaid recipients in Florida alone. So now we've ruled out both the poor and the old. What's left are the middle-aged and the middle class; my assumption of course being that the upper echelons of society are not overly burdened by health insurance premiums. Why don't people get this? The people doing the most screaming at the town-halls would seem to be those who stand to benefit the most!

To address those amongst the elderly who are concerned about cuts to Medicare, I would simply propose an either or situation that will occur at some point; I am nearly 100% certain. Either taxes must be raised in the near future to fund Medicare's ballooning cost, or the entitlement program will have to be trimmed down to meet the federal government's capacity to pay for it through tax receipts. If you oppose health care reform because "we can't afford to pay for it", I would respond by saying that we certainly can not afford to proceed with a business as usual attitude. Medicare and it's growing costs could potentially bankrupt this country; something will HAVE to be done about. The choice is, whether the elderly would prefer that reform to occur now, or when the nation has literally reached a crisis point over this program. If I were a Medicare recipient, I would prefer that reform happen now. As history has shown, the United States is prone to reacting irrationally in a crisis. Now at least, baby boomers and Medicare recipients represent a majority of the registered voter population. Keep in mind that in 20 years, this likely won't be the case. Proceeding forward with reform now will at least give boomers and the elderly a majority voice in shaping the characteristics of a more sustainable approach to health care. Sphere: Related Content

1 comment:

  1. Dead on with the "If I were a medicare recipent I would want the reform to happen right now." The fundamental problem with most health care reform proposals is they do not address a major issue; the third party payment system that keeps doctors from competitively pricing their services.