Well, President Obama presented his health plan to the nation. It is basically a good idea, although it still doesn’t speak to the main reason health costs are going out of sight, i.e. the scandalous fees earned by doctors. I like the central proposal of the plan, an insurance exchange which would encourage competition, at least among the insurers, if not the practitioners.

A Republican Congressman caused a furor when he blurted out, “You lie,” in response to Obama’s catagorical assurance that illegal immigrants would not benefit from his plan. It was a mistake for Obama to say this, since there is always the possibility that illegals can use the plan. But it was poor form for the Congressman to express his concern openly in that forum.

But did Obama lie? No, but he sure obfuscated on important points. He said that the cost of his new program would be paid for in large measure by eliminating “excesses” in Medicare payments. He said that he will eliminate “subsidies” being paid to insurance companies by Medicare. Well the only “excesses” and subsidies” he has so far indentified are the health plans I and 11 million other Americans now have. In spite of his promise that you will be able to keep your present health plan, the Obama plan calls for eliminating Medicare Advantage plans. I have now become an “excess” or “subsidy.”

To put the numbers on this move, the 11 million Medicare Advantage clients cost Medicare, I estimate, about $3000 each per year, or $33 billion a year in payments made by Medicare to insurance companies to take care of our medical costs. By eliminating this plan, Obama’s team sees Medicare saving $33 billion a year. But wait, let’s look at the actual costs. BlueCross, with whom I have the Medicare Advantage plan, paid about $7000 in medical bills I incurred last year, including treatments, exams, medicines and so forth. Thus by paying a flat $3000 to Blue Cross for me, Medicare SAVED $4000. If we multiply that savings by 11 million we see that eliminating the Medicare Advantage plan could mean Medicare having to pay an additional $44 billion, instead of saving $35 billion. I believe Obama’s numbers smack of a bit of slight of hand.

Obama’s plan calls for mandatory health insurance. Each and every citizen will have to buy health care insurance for himself and his family. The Obama team portrays this as being like having mandatory insurance to drive a car. The difference is that insurance to drive is placed on the automobile, not the driver, so to avoid paying for insurance, a person can choose not to own a car. Under the Obama health plan you are obliged to take out insurance and there are penalties for not taking out insurance, period.

I would imagine that there are other cracks in the plan. While the overall idea is good, these cracks allow for continued resistance to the program. The battle is far from won.