OK, I promise I’ll go back to being funny in a future blog soon, but I did have some really important things I needed to get off my chest on the economy and healthcare. In “Why Do Liberals Hate Corporate America?” I mentioned the guy who sweeps the halls at night at IBM. I suggested that he would lose his excellent healthcare benefits under Obamacare. I’ve never been more clear that this is true.
I got the single best insight into Obamacare I’ve had yet over a business dinner this week and it does not bode well for our friend sweeping floors at IBM. I dined with a successful businessman (read: highly paid) from London. I asked him about the national health system there and his view of what we’re doing here with Obamacare. Interestingly, he was a self-described “right winger,” but said he liked the NHS. That puzzled me so I probed a bit more and he told me the following story. He was in a meeting one day and stood up from his chair and burst a disk in his back. He said it was the most painful thing that he’d ever experienced. He had to have surgery and said because he has private insurance he was able to get the surgery done about a week later. The surgery was successful and he was out of pain and back at work quickly. However, he said that if he were on the national health plan, he would have waited about 3-6 months or more for the surgery. If you’ve ever had back pain, you can imagine what a nightmare that would have been, not to speak of the lost time from work and the implications of that, broadly speaking, on work productivity and GDP.
My British colleague went on to explain to me that “highly paid” people all have private insurance in the UK to make sure they don’t have to wait when they need something done quickly, and they use the NHS for routine stuff. In other words, he likes the NHS for the very reason that he’s not forced to use it when it doesn’t work for him.
My takeaway from this conversation was 2-fold. First, the NHS works well in England so long as you make enough money to avoid it when you need to avoid it. And, second, I’ll be just fine when Obamacare takes us where it must, which is national health with long waits. I’ve been very blessed to have done well enough in my career and personal finances that I will always be able to afford supplementary insurance. And, no doubt, such a market will develop quickly in the United States after our system is fully nationalized. Sadly, the guy sweeping the floors at IBM will not likely be able to afford supplemental insurance. Like so many lower and middle class Brits, he’ll be forced to wait months and months for treatment and access to care. Today, he gets his insurance through IBM and gets back surgery in a week. Once healthcare is fully nationalized here, he will no longer be able to afford the supplemental insurance he needs and will wait 3-6 months. Huge bummer for him.
I continued to ponder this discussion in the taxi back to my hotel and I kept asking myself “why the hell am I spending so much energy caring about the woes of Obamacare? For $10,000 per year or so, I’ll be buying my way out of it like the guy from London.” It simply won’t impact me at all, other than the $10,000, which I can afford. The answer is I’m upset about it because I care about the little guy. I care about the floor sweeper at IBM. I knew the President lied when he said anyone who wanted to keep their current coverage could do so, but the floor sweeper is more likely to trust him. You can only keep your insurance if it’s still offered and it won’t be. And, more than anything it frustrates the shit out of me that liberals claim the mantra of caring about the little guy while simultaneously sticking it to him to achieve an ideological endgame on healthcare.
As a final note, I’m sure some of you are quite rightly asking, “but, wait, how do we deal with the 40 million (the actual number is much lower; that’s a political number, but let’s run with it) people who have no insurance at all? Won’t they suffer a lot longer than the 3-6 month wait for back surgery under Obamacare” I agree – that’s a real problem. Let’s address it together as a nation. But, if you have a system that works very well for 260 million people and not at all for 40 million, why in the world would you toss out the system that’s working for the 260 in order to provide one for the 40? The only conceivable reason you’d do that is if you are more interested in ideology than success. Fortunately, there are now numerous DEMOCRATS running on a platform of repealing key parts of Obamacare so perhaps we’ll get rid of this horrid piece of legislation after all. But, til then, the floor sweeper should quite rightly be nervous.
Next up: Something funny again (I hope)