Opposites Attract

Wednesday, January 6, 2010
“Goals. Why do you keeping harping about goals, Dave? The President said that we are going to cover the uninsured, make health care affordable, and we can keep our current insurance. Aren’t those the goals?”

Those are goals. In that same vein, I would like to start each day with a smile on my face and a song in my heart.

Real goals, well defined and achievable, are in short supply. This past Sunday’s Cleveland Plain Dealer illustrated our current goal-less struggle.

Let’s begin on Page 5 of Section A. A Chicago Tribune story entitled “Health bills can sink even those insured” comes with a picture of a kindly older gentleman helping out at a Christmas pageant. Even though he has insurance, he is getting clobbered with the copayments from his prescriptions following his heart transplant. Forget the fact that what Mr. Fraas really needed was disability insurance because his real problem is a lack of income, the theme of the article can be found in this sentence: “Meanwhile, Fraas learned that even with good insurance, medical care can break a family’s bank.”

We have heard before how unfair it is for unhealthy people to also suffer financially. So it must be safe to say that one of our goals is really comprehensive coverage that totally protects a family, NO MATTER WHAT.

Not so fast.

On Page 2 of Section G that same Plain Dealer had “A less than-honest policy is taxing” written by New York Times columnist Bob Herbert. This editorial page article discusses one of the more controversial details of the recently passed Senate bill, the tax on so-called Cadillac health plans. An excise tax of 40% will be imposed on family policies that cost more than $23,000 per year and individual plans in excess of $700 per month.

The Joint Committee on Taxation projects that this tax will generate over $150 billion over the next ten years. How? The deep thinkers behind this scheme think that your boss will refuse to pay this tax, buy a cheaper insurance policy, and since he or she just saved so much money, you will get a raise! The government will collect billions of dollars in new income tax. You will be forced to migrate to a health insurance policy with higher deductibles and copayments. You will be forced to become a better consumer.

So our goal is to have consumers (us) pay more of our health care expenses?

What do Hollywood romantic comedies and bad legislation have in common? The plot lines always revolve around the theory that opposites attract. Just because I really enjoyed Bruce Willis and Cybil Sheppard in Moonlighting, doesn’t mean I can suspend my disbelief about this bill.

DAVE

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