California, Massachusetts and non-universal universal health care

It's now been one year (ok, one year tomorrow, but who's quibbling?) since the passage of Massachusetts's supposed "universal" health care plan, and perhaps we could learn a little from the experiment.  Now, Massachusetts and California are very different states. First of all, prior to passage MA had about 375,000 uninsureds. California has over 6.5 million uninsureds.  That's a lot.  Throw in demographic differences and the shape of the government budget, and you have some fairly different situations.  

But, there are still some lessons available in our cross-continent counterpart.  Flip it!

First, universal is a state of mind. More of a nirvana like concept that will only be attained by single payer.  Face it, it's just not going to happen as long as private insurance companies are acting as bagmen for Wall Street to victimize the nation's infirmed. Since enactment, the rate of uninsured has gone down by 110,000 or about 1/3! Whoop-de-frickin' doo.

Now, the "individual mandate part has still yet to go into action, so that will make things all better right? Right? I mean, forcing people to buy insurance from the bagmen will work, right? Well, I should hope so, as it's going to cost the middle class dearly:

Marilyn Glazer-Weisner, 55, of Swampscott is one of those feeling squeezed. Glazer-Weisner said she and her husband Alan, 56, earn too much to qualify for subsidized plans.

Glazer-Weisner says she's paying $534 a month for a plan with a $2,000 deductible.

"It's way too much money. I'm self-employed and my husband is self-employed. We're both in our 50s. We can't afford it. We're getting killed," she said. "I'm a cancer survivor for seven years and I'd like to stay that way."(AP@Boston Globe 4/11/07)

See, that's the thing about individual mandate, it uses revenue from healthy, formerly uninsureds, to pay for money-losing patients.  And that's fine, and dandy, but why do we need a middle man in there? See, who are these healthy uninsureds that we are propping up Blue Cross and Kaiser with? They are young and lower to middle class. Individual mandate is a tax that strikes the middle class. It is an overwhelmingly regressive tax.

And even if you could stomach a regressive tax, where does the money go? Not to be reinvested in the health care system, but to Wall Street corporatists (like Bill Frist, MD). SO, Massachusetts imposes a regressive tax and then hands it over to the insurance industry aka what Harry Reid calls the "enemy of most everything we do today." 

So, sure, if that's what you're into, break out the bubbly. But make sure you've got $553 left over to pay for your monthly health insurance premium.

Tags: California, Health care, individual mandate, Massachusetts, universal health care (all tags)

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