Obama: American Healthcare = GM?

EKG, healthcare reform

Obama gave a speech about healthcare "reform" to the American Medical Association, and Reuters reported the following:

Obama took his healthcare campaign to the annual meeting of the influential American Medical Association, which represents 250,000 doctors and has historically been opposed to a bigger government role in healthcare.

"If we do not fix our healthcare system, America may go the way of GM; paying more, getting less, and going broke," Obama said, likening the healthcare system to struggling carmaker General Motors, which has filed for bankruptcy protection.

"It is a ticking time bomb for the federal budget. And it is unsustainable for the United States of America," said Obama, who wants a reform bill on his desk by October.

The U.S. healthcare industry costs about $2.5 trillion annually but leaves 46 million Americans uninsured and with little access to medical care.

I hate to be nitpicky, but Obama did not liken the healthcare system to GM. He said: "If we do not fix our healthcare system, America may go the way of GM; paying more, getting less, and going broke."

You see, America is GM in Obama's analogy. Thus, the healthcare industry plays the role of . . . the autoworker unions. By that rationale, Obama should reward the healthcare industry with 40% ownership in the United States of America.

That is precisely the way he rewarded the autoworkers unions for their role in GM's demise. But, that's not what he meant either is it!

Actually, in this case (as is seemingly more and more the case), The President of the United States has no idea what he is talking about.

When I am not blogging for Texas GOP Vote, I am also an insurance broker. I also happen to sell group health insurance to businesses and individual health policies to individuals. Believe it or not, I know something about the product I sell (unlike Obama's car czar).

It is true that Americans are paying more for health insurance. But, they are not getting less. You see Americans are spending more on healthcare because they are buying more healthcare.Take a look at the average age of Americans, it is increasing. The older you are, the more healthcare you buy. Take a look at drugs and medical technology. Have they become more or less advanced over the last twenty years? How about the last five? More advanced and more expensive. That is not necessarily a bad thing, especially if you are the beneficiary of one of those life-saving treatments.

What about the prevalence of MRI machines? Why so many compared to so few in countries with single payer systems like Canada? Because Americans do not want to wait to find out if something is wrong with them. We want it now. The market responds. Should we feel bad about that?

Obama says that the healthcare industry "costs $2.5 trillion annually" like it is bad thing. No, Americans spend $2.5 trillion because they choose to do so.

Obama also raises the specter of the "46 million Americans uninsured." Where do they get these numbers? Have they ever bothered to ask them why they are uninsured? Almost without exception, my customers offer group health insurance to their employees. If the employer is willing to pick up 100% of the tab, participation is very robust. If that percentage drops to 75%, it falls. If it drops below 50%, it drops even further. They are making a choice about how to spend their dollars.

True, the insurance premium can often be very expensive (again, because of usage by insured members of the plan). In such cases, the market provides them with various options. They can buy an individual policy with as much or as little benefits as they see fit. Uninsurable? We have a market for that too.

Are there problems with the healthcare industry? Sure there are. Just ask your doctor how much he charges for a routine (insert your own favorite medical procedure here). He or she will have no idea. Too many people are insulated from the true cost of their own health care. Been to an emergency room lately? Now, there's a problem!

But, the answers to the problems of the American Healthcare system will not be found by applying the principles by which the postal service operates. When we angrily call something a "government-run bureaucracy," it is not a compliment. Moreover, you cannot save money by adding to the number of people receiving public funds for health care. Even Barack Obama can't do that!

We can and will make America like GM though! You know, completely dependent on the government and incapable of making a profit. We can do that by socializing American healthcare!

Next time you see your Doctor (or insurance agent for that matter), ask him what he is doing to fight socialized medicine!


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