Monday, June 17, 2013

Doctors' Alternative to Obamacare

Breitbart.com is publicizing this UPI report on two Kansas physicians who have created their own "membership" scheme as an alternative to insurance.

http://www.breitbart.com/system/wire/upiUPI-20130614-232724-6523

The down side is that, although everyone saves a lot of time and trouble just by cutting out the middleman, the "membership" scheme still works a lot like insurance. I should pay $100 per month for the medical care I need? During the last ten years, the one medical procedure I wanted to have (blood tests) would've cost $700. If I were paying $100 per month, some doctor would really be profiteering on my health care plan. This is not the alternative I want.

But I am interested in the idea that this "membership" system seems to be absorbing the costs of treatment for people for whom $100 per month is a fantastic bargain. I wonder how that would work as a national plan, not to anticipate, but to cover the actual cost of treatment for people with major diseases and disabilities. (By definition, most of those people aren't working, so unless they've saved up large amounts of money or inherited large estates, they need help.)

As a national alternative to Obamacare, this wouldn't satisfy me unless it was possible for taxpayers to verify that only the actual cost of treatment--including hourly wages for medical personnel, yes, but nothing more than ten times the minimum hourly wage--was ever collected. If the total amount collected, as it might be because Americans liked this new federal standard of honesty and more people filed tax returns, were to exceed the cost of care, the excess would have to be reported to the taxpayers as applied to next year's fund.

Right. Can we imagine that our federal government gets serious about avoiding bankruptcy and replaces any speculation-based "insurance" schemes with an annual tax levied to cover the actual cost of medical care. Instead of trying to manipulate people to earn more and spend more money generally, Uncle Sam switches to a direct, bottom-line appeal. "Your estimated share of the cost of medical care for the needy," and for those of us who aren't in touch with our own disabled relatives the government could employ a few "poster patients," "the cost of surgery for this child with spina bifida, the cost of adaptive education for this youth with cerebral palsy, the cost of rehabilitation for this survivor of a terrorist attack," "comes to $100 per month." Would Americans be motivated to pay that tax? (Especially if it replaced all this fractions-of-two-and-eleven-per-cent malarky the Social Security system has been using to intimidate entrepreneurs...) Likely we would.

Gentle Readers, I think one reason why people aren't talking more about the idea of a fund to cover only actual costs is that I'm too dysnumeric to put numbers in it. Any medical care plan that can replace Obamacare--which decent and intelligent people have honestly mistaken for something they've been longing for, for as long as I've been alive, and which must be replaced--has to have numbers in it. Somewhere out there in cyberspace are serious, competent number-crunchers. Do the numbers in the Breitbart story give you some inspiration? Can we give our Senators a serious plan with numbers that add up? (Please, pretty please with sugar'n'cream on it...)