I don’t like Obama’s plan, for some of the same reasons as much more conservative thinkers. But standard critiques of the plan’s problems are precisely backwards.
One problem with our current system is that it puts the burden on the business to provide insurance. But the appropriate response to this problem is not to shift the burden onto the individual entirely as many conservatives would advocate — they’ll never see a pay raise equivalent to the loss of benefits because that would require businesses to irrationally take profit out of their own pockets without being required to do so — something they rarely do.
No, the correct response, is to put the burden on everyone collectively as opposed to everyone individually, which has been done many times over, though never in America, and has always — and I mean this in the strongest possible sense — always been effective. That’s right — single payer health care systems invariably work.
The Obama-Biden plan is not single-payer, and as such does not fully address the problem in the current system. In fact it retains this problem.
By the way, giving tax credits to businesses, which the Obama-Biden plan does, is socialized medicine (which isn’t all bad) but it is the worst kind of socialized medicine, since it requires the government to recoup the lost revenue from individual taxpayers collectively. When businesses get credits, our taxes go up, with the public financing the private world.
Another problem with health insurance is that it just is insurance. There is absolutely no reason for a premium to go up simply because you get sick or are likely to be sick. Doing this is unequivocal discrimination against the unhealthy (even against those who willfully become unhealthy like smokers; I’d hate to see anyone discriminated against simply because they are willfully Mormon or Jewish, just to point out an obvious analogy). Rather than health insurance, we should just have health care, where everyone does in fact see a doctor for every cough and scrape and every cough and scrape costs the same as the last – doing this is the best way to avoid illness in the future and makes health care not only cheaper by preventing many worse and more expensive health problems early on, but also makes you, that’s right, healthier.
Then there is, of course, the obvious problem that not providing health care puts government in direct confrontation with its stated purpose, at least its purpose according to conservatives. What I mean is that protecting rights seems a little silly and perhaps a little dishonest if you are not first in the business of protecting life. What do rights matter if you’re either dead or dying? Protect rights, we should also be encouraging life, and if we don’t we just aren’t as great a society as we claim to be – we do only the easy part of the work.
Another problem with both the Obama-Biden plan and the libertarian thinking of our neoconservative American right-wing is that the plan reflects the absolute fiction that the government is not, should not be, and could ever not be a competitor in the market. The reality just is, and will forever be, that the government plays a huge role in the economy, from the simplest of ways like paying government employees, to the most socially and morally complex like making laws about how fast I can move my product from point A to B, or disallowing us from buying alcoholic beverages on Sundays. Please let us move past the illusion that the government isn’t a member of the market place. Being a “protector” is just being a competitor. (Also remember that business competes for the right to govern as well. If I walk into work and I don’t meet the dress code, I am fired or fined. Sounds like a law to me…)
Also, let’s remember that we already have a socialized system, only a terrible, diffuse and often unrecognized socialization which serves only to keep uninsured people sick and insured people paying for their overly expensive costs which could have been prevented. Again — insurance-as-care is not the answer in any form or in any plan — single-payer total care is the only rational, financially sound, honest, and above all moral answer to our health care problems, and the Obama-Biden plan does not address this most critical issue.