I recently heard an academic whose expertise is tort law and medicine say that the, “2000 page health care bill in the Congress will do nothing to change our health care.” He added that it will simply, “make it more expensive.” His point was the same as mine, the bill will extend insurance coverage for health care, but will do nothing to reduce its cost. In fact it will make our health care more expensive.

And cost goes to the heart of the matter. Why is it so important to have health insurance for everyone? Because health care costs more than anyone, including the government, can afford. Remember, Medicare and Medicaid are calculated to go broke in a few years. We don’t need insurance to pay for our transportation, electricity, heat, entertainment, or a whole host of other services. But we sure as hell better have it to pay for health care or face financial ruin.

The problem with the health care bill as now constituted is that it does nothing to reduce the cost of health care. In fact, the very day the Senate announced that it had cleared the bill for floor debate, the House voted to raise payments to doctors for providing services to Medicare patients. (Technically the Congress did not raise the payments, it voted to delay reductions in payments to doctors for Medicare treatments.) This vote confirmed the fact that the Congress has no intention of reducing the cost of health care, it simply wants to extend insurance to all.

And the extension of that insurance will be expensive. The Congressional Budget Office calcuates that a policy issued by the proposed new government health insurance option will be about $5000-6000 a year for a single person and $14,000-15,000 for an average family. The plan calls for government subsidies for those who cannot afford the public plan. Well with the poverty level hovering around $22,000 for a family of four, we can be sure most of those currently uninsured and who opt for the public option will receive subsidies. Who gets the bill? You guessed it, the tax payers. And in an exquisite bit of humor, much of this will be paid by a new tax on health insurance plans being paid in full by their recipients.
The new health care bill misses the mark. We need to control and reduce the cost of health care, not make it more expensive.