Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Listen to what is Said

After watching the debate, as always what stands out in my mind isn't the policies themselves but the way people hear what is said, apply their own fears, selectively filter other information, and regurgitate it to make it totally different.  I also notice that neither candidate's plan is correct - the correct answer either lies in the middle, or is addressed by neither.

I admit I may be biased myself, but I find Obama to be the victim of this phenomenon more often than McCain.  An example:

Health Care:  Obama said he wanted to let you keep and reduce the cost of employer-based health care, but if your employer doesn't offer health care or you don't like the offered plan, you have the option of enrolling in the government's plan.  He also wants to introduce mandates that exclude small businesses, but ensure that those that can afford health care plans actually spend the money to get them.

Through filters and fears, this somehow equates to government-run health care.  This simply isn't true.  What this actually means is reduced cost of health care.  At least on the surface.  The real problems that I notice with his plan are pre-existing conditions and the failure to address the real reason for the high cost of medical care.

I'm not sure on the details with the mandates against exclusion for pre-existing conditions (I advise you to look into them yourself).  If by this, he means that the insurance company must cover your medical needs even if you had the condition before you were covered (though you were likely unaware of the issue), then I agree.  If he's saying that you must give insurance to someone even though they have a pre-existing (and costly) condition that you do know of, then I have mixed feelings.

The problem with known pre-existing conditions is that the cost of treatment will undoubtably be more than the cost of the insurance - the whole reason it's called insurance is that it's something of a gamble.  For most people the cost of the insurance will be much less than the cost the insurance company pays.  This is actually necessary because those that do need insurance will need more than they put in.  Money goes into a pool and is paid out as necessary.  It absolutly should be prevented that an insurance company cut you off if you actually do start needing your insurance.  You're paying for the assurance of health care coverage, you should get what you paid for.  You "won" the gambit, though you probably don't see it that way.

The real reason for the high cost of health care however, is the frivolous lawsuits.  I'm not talking about criminal negligence, though I do think that the amount awarded is typically far too high, I'm talking about the cases of honest mistakes.  If a doctor makes an honest mistake or unintentionally misses something, I don't think a lawsuit is right.  Since your chances if you didn't go to a doctor were 0%, I don't see how you can hold a doctor responsible for a mistake.  Again, in cases of real negligence, it's different.

While on the topic of frivolous lawsuits, that's a big economic issue too.  One of the reasons everything costs so much is because everyone keeps suing everyone else for ridiculous things.  Judges need to throw these things out at the start before the defendent spends loads of money on lawyers or settles to avoid the cost of a trial.  If people weren't awarded for stupid lawsuits, they'd stop spending the money on starting them.

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