�IT�S SOCIALISM!� cried the teabagger. He was so upset at
the idea of having a national health care system in the land of the free he
wanted to go back to the way America was in the beginning. I wondered if he
also wanted to explain to his wife why she couldn�t vote or own property. Or
maybe he just wanted to buy a slave.
The current brouhaha over health care is filled with lies,
exaggerations, half truths, urban legends, misunderstandings and, a now and
then, a little truth.
So, now it�s my turn. Having been a career sailor, a health
insurance salesman, and a freelance writer of things political during my adult
years. I�ve seen most sides from about every angle.
Socialism doesn�t cause me to tremble as it does for those
who claim it will be the end of all that�s good about the greatest nation on
earth. Government help isn�t always bad. It has given women many, but not all,
of the freedoms men have always had. They can now both own property and vote.
It also abolished slavery after a terrible war.
But health care? It is the most pernicious form of socialism
isn�t it? Well, it would ration care that�s for sure, but not as much as the
insurance industry does today.
But could it work? Sure, and it does. Practically every
developed nation has it. In every one the cost is far less per person than in
the U.S.A. By most measurable standards, the results are better too. Citizens
of those countries live longer. Their babies have a much greater chance of
surviving one year.
Here, 46.3 million of us are one illness away from
bankruptcy. Our �health program,� is nothing more than a hodgepodge of
Medicare, individual policies, group policies, and one sparkling program -- the
program available for U.S. government workers, including military retirees, and
their families. It does wonders for my wife and me.
The cost of our hodgepodge system alone is reason to abolish
the present system. When one huge segment of our economy outstrips the rest of
the economy, we are headed towards disaster. Problems often can be solved by
eliminating them, but that is not an option with health care -- not in a
I got a good look at what many call the �greatest health
care system� starting in 1970. For the next 22 years I sold lots of individual
health policies. This gave me a good look at the problems an American
entrepreneur faces, especially an ambitious and talented guy who gives up a job
with benefits, and goes for the brass ring.
He needs to be insurable to keep a medical setback from
wiping him out. �Insurable� describes one who must prove he doesn�t need the
policy in order to get it. Or, a person can be partially insurable, but
preexisting conditions would be excluded from coverage. A guy who once strained
his back playing touch football might end up with an exclusion for �any
disease, disorder or condition� of his lower back. If he needed expensive
sacroiliac surgery to avoid being paralyzed, his insurance company would say,
But, once issued, the person could keep the policy forever.
Right? Well many (but not all) of the contracts stated that. But even they
could be rendered ineffective. Back around 1984, I sold a lot of Blue Cross
policies which were guaranteed renewable. Rates were set according to age and
reflected the cost of medical care where the insured lived.
But when claims started to rise Blue Cross slapped an
enormous rate increase on that version of their policy. Then those who could
again show insurability could buy the new, lower cost, policy. Obviously
the healthy folks scrambled to the new policy, and those whose health had
deteriorated were left in a smaller pool accompanied by other uninsurables.
Guess where the premiums went on the old policy?
And so it goes. We�ve had this much-vaunted competition for
decades now and it works -- for the companies. They are not evil. They are
simply doing what they have to do to make a profit and attract stockholders.
They cut costs.
It is simply time to recognize that the status quo does
not work. Nothing less than the economy and the health of our citizens is at
stake. We have to stop shouting bromides and cringing at bugaboos. Let�s
finally put the country�s needs first.
Keith Taylor is a retired Naval officer living in
Chula Vista, Ca. He is also retired as an insurance broker. He can be reached