Political Post (run while you can)—I’m not posting this to stir the pot or start a heated argument (yeah, good luck with that, B), and I’m not going to tolerate any comments ranting about “OBAMA!” or whatever boogeyman you perceive that hijacks what this post is actually about…but I’ve been meaning to comment on the whole health care thing for a while now. And in light of the apparent crash and burn of the Republicans health care plan this week, and the fact I seem to have more than five minutes of time on my hands to spare at this moment, here goes:
Everybody needs health care. Rich or poor, young or old, we are all susceptible and at risk of needing lots of health care at various points of our lives. You can eat right, you can exercise daily…but you can randomly develop a long term illness through absolutely no fault of your own. Or, you can always drive carefully, look both ways at an intersection before moving on a green light, don’t text while driving, and never drink and drive…but you can randomly be the victim of another such driver who is careless or some other freak scenario that is simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Either way, the medical bills that come from the kind of care needed to help you recover can bankrupt nearly anyone who is not in the so-called One Percent. We all need health care, and based on what I’ve just said, everybody should be willing to help pay for a system that enables everyone to have access to it. It’s “just” figuring out the best way to do that that’s the trick.
I know there are problems with ObamaCare, and I know people who are paying tens of thousands of dollars a year to cover their families. If you make too much to qualify for subsidies, you’re basically f****d. But I hardly think the legislation the Republicans were offering was going to make a single thing any better, and I say good riddance to their bill collapsing (well, for now, anyway). But what can be done to make things better?
I don’t think there’s a perfect system that works flawlessly, and I think what may work in another country may not be feasible here in America, for various reasons. But I do think a step in the right direction would be to start with giving everyone universal catastrophic coverage: If your medical bills in a given year exceed a set portion of your annual income, the government covers it, whether it be through some kind of expanded Medicare or Medicaid or whatever. Whether that portion is ten percent of your income, or 15 or 20 is a matter of taste. That would help relieve most people’s fears of debilitating medical expenses ruining them financially. Taxes would have to be adjusted accordingly to finance such a system, but I’ve read articles stating it would actually save money versus Obamacare. In addition, people would still be able to buy supplemental private insurance to cover routine medical expenses, and those plans would ostensibly be cheaper, since insurers would no longer have to allow for covering major illnesses or injuries since that would be spotted by the government.
I also think everybody should be able to write off their premiums (as of now, only self-employed people can do that), as well as all of their medical expenses (as of now, you can only do that if you itemize your tax deductions, and even then only the amount above ten percent of your income).
I don’t know that this would fix everything, or even be affordable without raising taxes beyond what people would tolerate. But I tend to think that simplest is best, and that universal catastrophic coverage is a good conversation for us to start having.
BONUS: Before people on the Right who think I’m a liberal just because I don’t like Trump start blasting my idea as some kind of “socialist” hand out simply because I, an alleged liberal, am advocating it…Universal Catastrophic Coverage has been championed by various conservative think tanks for years. This is a conservative proposal, and I can link to several conservative articles (even f-ing BREITBART; no shit, one came up during my Google search on the topic) that go into greater detail on it. As a moderate, I don’t look at an idea and say, “Oh, the Republicans came up with this, it must be BAAAAAAAAAD!! BOOOO!!! HISSSSSS!!!”, and I don’t look at a Democratic proposal and assume it must wonderful and good. I just look at an idea and ask, “Will it fucking work?”. (And for the record, I didn’t think what the Republicans were offering in their health care alternative would work at all, so I was against it.) The Republicans would do well consider Universal Catastrophic Coverage when they revisit health care.