Monday, September 7, 2009

RCJ Op-Ed: Doing nothing is the most expensive option in health care

Copied-n-pasted from Bob Burns' excellent op-ed in the Rapid City Journal, since the RCJ in its wisdom doesn't post letters or op-eds, leaving the issues of the day to the large population of foxnews-lovin' Rapid Reply'ers...

Dear Sen. Thune: One of the few questions at last Friday’s town hall meeting that seemed to garner bipartisan applause was,“why can’t we all have the health care coverage that you have?”

In our free-market system, the bargaining power of large corporations and government entities allows their employees to purchase insurance at heavily discounted rates.

Sen. Thune, you can purchase high quality coverage for less than one-third what I as a small businessman have to pay for the bare-bones coverage available to my family.

Some would say this is an example of our free market working to reduce health insurance costs. In reality, it reduces nothing.

Insurance companies make up for those large discounts by shifting costs to those that do not have the bargaining power of GM, Citibank or the U.S. government.

This cost shifting puts the heaviest burden of our nation’s health care on those least able to afford it. Individuals, small businessmen and young families must pay several times the rate of a chief executive officer of a large corporation or a U.S. senator.

Sen. Thune, you stated a basic American value is that of personal responsibility.Where is the personal responsibility in allowing those with the highest-paying jobs to shift their health care cost to those with the lowest-paying jobs?

The proposed health insurance reform would allow me to purchase insurance from a pool of private companies almost identical to the one available to you. It would level the playing field and give a small business owner in South Dakota the same power as the president of General Motors in purchasing health insurance for his family and employees.

The fact that one of the many options in that pool is a Medicare-like public plan that would give even those earning minimum wage the ability to purchase affordable basic coverage for their families has driven the Republican Party to hysteria.

The continuous barrage of outrageous claims aim to kill health care reform, not improve it. The latest, included in a letter from Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steel, said that the bill could deny health care to Republicans. This is as ludicrous as death boards, rationing and a government takeover of health care.

Sen. Thune, your premiums are 2 percent of your salary.My premiums equal half the wage of the average South Dakotan.

After paying $16,000 a year in premiums,we have little left for checkups or preventative medicine. Our insurance company pays zero until we have paid the first $6,000 of any medical cost.

Senator, I don’t want a government bailout, charity or a tax credit give away. I want the right to purchase my family’s health insurance with my hard-earned money without having to add yours or anyone else’s premium to my own.

You spoke about the costs of the reforms and said doing nothing would be better than passing the proposed bill.For my family, there could be no greater cost than doing nothing.


This Forum piece is written by Bob Burns of Black Hawk. Burns has been a small-business owner for more than 30 years and recently was sent by Health Care For America Now to advocate for health care reform in Washington.

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