Monday, September 06, 2004

Health Care

One more politico blog before I dig into my vacation goodies. As well, all blogs for the next two weeks or so will be delusional due to jet lag, which I have quite badly (friggin' planet, why couldn't it be flat).

Mr. Kendall has an entry on the shrinking health care debate in this presidential campaign. It is, for the most part, an agreeable post, but there are a few caveats I'd like to throw out.

The whole idea of health care insurance is a bit of a misnomer since most people are interested in health maintenance. For example, the company I work for has the computer equipment I'm responsible for insured in case some cataclyminc event happens to the equipment that is beyond the company's control. Additionally, I have maintenance agreements on the equipment as well. This maintenance may entail scheduled cleanings, replacement of defective parts, and/or replenishment of supplies.

Fortunately for the hardware maintenance companies, there's only so much that can be done to the products they maintain. I can't, for instance, call them up and have them give me newer and faster hard drives for ten bucks a piece. Also, there are no hidden costs when it comes to this equipment. If a company offers a maintenance plan on a $2000 piece of equipment that costs $300 a month, I can elect to go without.

It's a little different for health maintenance in that you can't exactly say you want to go without, but the costs are hidden. I was shocked to learn that the plan I have from my employer actually costs ten times the amount of my monthly out of pocket premiums. Let's say that the plan costs me roughly $100 while it costs my employer $1000 a month. Now my family uses several prescriptions and goes to the doctor a couple times a month, but I'd be hard pressed to think that we'd even ever used up half the employer amount in a given month; and in fact, I've often wondered if even the hypothetical $100 a month is a screw job.

Here's where it gets a little sticky. If given the opportunity, I'd probably rather have the twelve grand more a year, and just get cataclysmic (usually plus $2500 in expenses) health care. However, if healthy people were to leave the general plans, the people with lingering disorders (diabetes, malaria, etc.) may be boned since they would never be able to acquire a health maintenance plan of their own, and employers wouldn't offer it.

I'm kind'a hard pressed, though, to see what the actual problems are beyond medical malpractice reform and eliminating some socialistic tendencies (both are problems which would no doubt be exacerbated under Kerry). I think I heard it on NPR where someone said that the reason costs are going up is because people are buying more of it. When it comes for places to put money, many people have decided that their own health is a good place for it, and as usual, the liberals don't like where people are putting their money.

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