Cal and Fred,
Thanks for your thoughts on this most complicated question. I also don't like the idea of a government monopoly telling us what is going to be covered and what is not. And it is ridiculous for Mr. Obama, who never ran a lemonade stand or any other business, to tell us we must hurry up and pass this bill affecting about 15% of the US economy, which we haven't seen and which apparently hasn't been completely written yet. Haste makes waste, and I fear Washington will end up throwing out some things that DO work in our present system and ending up with something worse.....with higher costs, wrong incentives, and less individual choice. It needs to be discussed in depth, and not just rammed through sight unseen. Even some of the more thoughtful Democrats are getting nervous about this.
It is true there are people - unemployed or underemployed - who can't afford any insurance, and that isn't a good thing. Others could afford it but may choose not to. Some are in the U.S. illegally and should not be subsidized. Still others have a job with a good plan that they don't want messed with. So it's complicated and it needs careful thought.
It seems to me not a good thing to have health insurance tied to one's employer, because then if you lose your job you are in a double crisis: no income, and no insurance. I think it ought to be like life insurance, car insurance, or homeowner's insurance, which are completely separate from your employment. That ought to be possible.
I've also had the thought that when we were growing up 50 years ago, there were no HMO's involved with medicine; and also there was no government involved. Yet somehow we all got health care when we needed it. Are we making this too hard?
My three conditions for a government plan (fat chance of Washington paying any attention!) are these:
1. Whatever they want to impose upon the citizens, must also be adopted for all Federal employees including the President and all members of Congress. Let their families depend on the same plan as the rest of us.
2. First get Medicare, an existing government-run insurance plan which is currently headed for insolvency, straightened out financially and on a sound footing. If Washington cannot do that, then don't talk to us about extending its reach to the whole health-care system. Get the deficits out of Medicare first. Show us you can do it - if you can.
3. Before rolling out Obamacare and messing up the whole country, try a pilot program in one state only, to see how it works. Perhaps Massachusetts or California would like to volunteer, they have some experience via their own attempts to bring in universal health insurance. If the system works and you don't have doctors fleeing, medicine shortages, monstrous deficits etc, then we can consider it for the other states.
It was good to hear from you both.