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ObamaCare and Mom’s Ticker

Wednesday, August 19, 2009, 16:30 EDT Leave a comment Go to comments

Entirely lost in the current debate over President Obama’s proposed overhaul of the medical insurance marketplace is the fact that we already know what federal involvement in medical coverage would look like. We already have it. It’s called Medicare (for retired and disabled people) and Medicaid (for poor people). Let me tell you a story about Medicare.

The Den Mother’s Mother has a cardiac condition. It isn’t imminently life-threatening, but its manifestations have grown more frequent and more severe over the years and the treatment less effective. Unless adequately treated, it eventually would be fatal.

Fortunately, DMM has an excellent cardiologist in Boston. He recently proposed two treatment options: one medical, one surgical. The medical option is less invasive, but it may only work for a year or two, or not at all. The surgical option is more permanent, but it’s more expensive. DMM, who has the advantage of being a registered nurse, was weighing both options carefully.

It appears that since the conversation with the cardiologist, Medicare has decided to stop covering the surgical procedure in question, at least if the medical option is still on the table. Even before "health care reform" has been implemented, Obama’s red pill/blue pill scenario is playing out. Right now, the medical option for DMM is cheaper and, on the surface, works just as well as the surgery. Simple, right?

Not so fast. Medical decisions aren’t made in a time vacuum. DMM could choose the cheaper medical option now, but what if its effectiveness is temporary and she needs the surgical option a couple years down the road? She will be older and, consequently, a worse surgical risk then. If that is the case, the removal of the surgical option now, while making immediate financial sense, may mean a shortening of her life or a deterioration in the quality of life or even, if we’re going to be cold bean counters, more expensive in the long run.

Obama insists that his plan to "reform" medical care in this country isn’t about denying coverage or "pulling the plug on Grandma." He decries for-profit insurance companies that deny costly treatments. But since the United States government (in the form of Medicare) is already doing that, how will a so-called public option—or the left wing’s self-stated ultimate goal, a single-payer national medical system—be any better than the private insurance options? In fact, won’t it be worse? For-profit insurers who provide a poor product lose customers to insurers who do better, and the lousy ones end up going out of business. The federal government doesn’t go out of business; it just keeps taking more of our money or, absent that option, cuts services.

We can all agree it’s a safe bet that the wonderful public option Obama is trying to ram through Congress isn’t good enough for the President, his family, or members of Congress. That’s why Congress will exempt itself from whatever bill ends up being filed, as they do with other bills that place burdens and restrictions on the rest of us.

If it isn’t good enough for them, it isn’t good enough for my mother.

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Categories: family, politics
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