Think Health Care ASSURANCE, Not Insurance

Think of health care ASSURANCE, not insurance. Insurance is when you pay to participate in a risk pool from which you may never need to take a benefit. Homeowner’s and vehicle insurance are good examples. And the payment of different insurance rates can be justified based upon the risk of using benefits, i.e, on your behavior (e.g., driving record), age, or other personal characteristics. It is “catastrophic” coverage, coverage for unplanned, rare events that commonly cost thousands of dollars.

With collective financing of health care, it is virtually guaranteed that those covered have to use benefits from the funding pool regularly from Day One onward. It’s not just catastrophic; a lot of it is preventive. Payments into the system can’t be related to the behavior or nature of the covered person. Everyone must pay the same controlled rate – no differential premiums for sicker or older or younger. It must cover all kinds of health care and medicines. And for those who cannot pay into the system at all or can only pay a limited amount, there must be taxpayer assistance and the taxpayers involved must be the wealthy (you can’t tax the middle and low income folk in order to give it back to them).

This means of paying for health care is incompatible with the profit motive of insurance companies. The profiteers cannot be controlled by regulation because they will always use their money to chisel down regulation. Government is the best performer of services that must be democratic and non-profit, because government is the representative of and beholden to the people. Government excels at ASSURANCE and ASSURANCE of health care is what everyone else now needs, just as our elders did when we implemented Medicare and our children with SCHIP and our low income citizens with Medicaid.

Yet, we have allowed what should be health care ASSURANCE to be forced into the mold of insurance. And thus the capitalists have devised a way to profit from other people’s misery. They have made access to health care a privilege, not a right. They have created an immoral and bankrupt system.

Unless we can implement single-payer health care ASSURANCE, we must have the public option – allowing people who so choose to get their ASSURANCE from the government. Here’s why: Some form of mandates to buy ASSURANCE, either for employers or for individuals, are needed to get everyone covered. And the government cannot ethically mandate purchase if the only option is to buy it from for-profit insurers. Requiring people to pay for-profit insurers is government-sponsored extortion. Furthermore, if the government is paying for the sliding scale assistance for those who cannot pay, taxpayer money goes to private insurers to skim their profits off the top. That would be misdirection of public funds to private, corporate gain. The health insurance industry is NOT in need of a bailout. But you can readily see why they hate the public option. And ALL employers – businesses small and large, cities, counties, states, organizations of all kinds – should love government health care ASSURANCE once they’ve done the math and figured what it actually means for them. And just think how it would benefit our faltering economy!!

Now, are we going to let these ill-informed, prejudiced, anti-government screamers, funded and deployed by the private insurance industry, win this battle? Are we going to allow the rest of us to be abandoned to their chopping block? Or are we going to demand that our government create health care ASSURANCE (ASSURECARE?) for all Americans?

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