Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

May 30, 2009

GOVERNMENT ISN'T SCARY, BUT TAXES STILL ARE.... Near the top of the list of Republican talking points on health care reform is the prospect of government playing too large a role in the system. An interesting new poll from CNN suggests it's the wrong way to attack reform efforts.

A new national poll indicates that most Americans are receptive to having more government influence over their health care in return for lower costs and more coverage.

Sixty-three percent of people questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey released Friday said they would favor an increase in the federal government's influence over their own health-care plans in an attempt to lower costs and provide coverage to more Americans; 36 percent were opposed.

The poll also suggests that slightly more than six out of 10 think the government should guarantee health care for all Americans, with 38 percent opposed.

That's pretty encouraging. If more than six out of 10 Americans want government to have more of a role in the health care system -- nice job, insurance companies -- the right will need to change its focus if it hopes to derail efforts to fix the system and expand access.

The poll seems to offer conservatives a hint in this regard. Respondents were asked, "Would you prefer a health care reform plan that raises taxes in order to provide health insurance to all Americans, or a plan that does not provide health insurance to all Americans but keeps taxes at current levels?" The result: 47% would accept the tax cut as a tradeoff, 47% would not.

With that in mind, expect to hear a lot of "reform = tax increases" in the very near future.

I'm curious, though, how much the results would change if people were presented with a fuller picture of the potential tradeoff. In other words, would people concerned about taxes going up feel differently if they knew their premiums would also go down?

Steve Benen 10:40 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (21)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

In other words, would people concerned about taxes going up feel differently if they knew their premiums would also go down?

If the tax increase is higher than the decrease in premiums and my health benefits stay the same, then yes, I will be concerned. I've ended up paying more for the same coverage. If the decrease in premiums is greater than my tax increase, and my benefits stays the same, then I will not be concerned.

Seems pretty straightforward. I'm skeptical about this adventure since no details have been put forth. I wonder if they will treat their system as any other health coverage - you can opt out if you so desire. I think that provision in the bill would make it much more palatable for the public.

Also, will this plan be funded from income taxes, or will it be funded as an entitlement? If it's the former, then taxpayers will probably be at a net loss. If it's the latter, then it will probably depend on what type of coverage you had before.

Posted by: Jake on May 30, 2009 at 10:50 AM | PERMALINK

This whole discussion is so bizarre. The thing that makes real people angriest about their premiums is not the cost--its the deep down knowledge that the insurance company is under no obligation to continue coverage once you lose your job/fail to pay cobra. And in addition, at just the moment that your are most vulnerable because you are the sickest, the insurance company is going to insist on interfereing with your care, dropping your coverage, or otherwise nickle and diming you to death.

The proper rhetorical strategy is not to contrast the "cost" of taxes and the "cost" of premiums but the *certainity of care.* If you asked anyone whether they would be happy to pay a substantial sum into a general pool when they were fully employed/very young in order to gain access to full and complete coverage that can't be denied later in life most people would jump at the chance. The current model of health insurance is like "pay as you go" with the worst, most fragile coverage resulting just at the moment that people are most financially vulnerable.

We fall into a major trap when we talk about taxes and coverage in the same breath. The real issue is that everyone in this country is only temporarily covered in the first place. Its not a fight between the haves and the have nots, its a struggle of the temporarily insured against the indifferent and profit driven insurance company.

In the real world this is almost identical to the battle that disabled people have fought in getting everyone to recognize that we are all only ever "temporarily abled." The accomdodations that seem so costly when it applies only to "people in wheelchairs" suddenly isn't so costly when you realize the same benefits apply to women with strollers and elderly people with mobility issues.

aimai

Posted by: aimai on May 30, 2009 at 11:05 AM | PERMALINK

Jake that's total gibberish. There's an old saying" there are no simple answers to complex problems". Although this isn't always true in the case of health care reform it's most likely that it is.
Presently healthcare provided to retirees and soldiers which are both provided through the gov't work rather well. Whereas healthcare provided to the general public which is basically funded by for profit insurance companies is woefull at best . The premiums are incredibly high,many people can't get health insurance, and many have substandard and inadequate insurance. These problems cost you money in more ways than your simple minded scree about your personal tax costs.

Posted by: Gandalf on May 30, 2009 at 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

Presently healthcare provided to retirees and soldiers which are both provided through the gov't work rather well.

Have you ever been to a VA hospital?

My parents hate Medicare/Medicaid with a passion. Reams of paperwork, bureaucrats second-guessing their medical choices, long waits for reimbursements.

As I said, taxpayers aren't going to vote for a system that costs them more and doesn't give them any benefit over what they have. If Medicare/Medicaid is any example, then yes, Obama's plan might hit some roadbumps.

And my question isn't gibberish: where is this money for Obama's plan coming from: income taxes or some sort of entitlement tax?

Because Obama promised everyone making under 250k that they would not see an increase in their taxes.

So how do you pay for it?

Borrow more money? Have we consulted with Beijing?

Trust me, you were right the first time: there are no simple answers to complex problems.

Posted by: Jake on May 30, 2009 at 11:21 AM | PERMALINK

.
What we want is what we need, Corpocrats: universal single-payer national health care.

But we realize that nothing can stop them from whoring health care. Unless we stop sending the whores to Washington.
.

Posted by: cosanostradamus on May 30, 2009 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

Jake is either full of shit or just making stuff up. Medicare patients go to the doctor, the doctor electronically files a HCFA form (or if not wired in as in some rural areas, mails out forms in batches) and the government pays. And when a doctor decides a test is necessary, it is covered, no wrangling with a moron who flunked out of college for six weeks trying to get a preauthorization for a needed procedure.

Posted by: reaist on May 30, 2009 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

Ah, Jake, Have You Ever Been To A VA Hospital?

I have been in the VA system for several years. Absolutely no complaints - I receive quality care. My wife is in a for profit system at a large hospital. We have similar conditions. After observing the many problems she has faced in that system, I would never switch to their programs. If I happen to miss a scheduled INR, the phone starts to ring from the VA. If she misses one, she receives a notice several days later. She came very close to death, recently, over a major screwup by her cardiologist concerning her medications. No thanks, I will stick with the VA.

Posted by: berttheclock on May 30, 2009 at 11:59 AM | PERMALINK

My parents hate Medicare/Medicaid with a passion. Reams of paperwork, bureaucrats second-guessing their medical choices, long waits for reimbursements.

Are you parents doctors or patients?

Posted by: Mnemosyne on May 30, 2009 at 12:01 PM | PERMALINK

My Republican parents love their Medicare. After a lifetime of battling insurance company bureaucrats they have coverage that's reasonable and fair, and *no* arbitrary denials.

Posted by: Joey Giraud on May 30, 2009 at 12:01 PM | PERMALINK

Jake is an idiot and evidently his parents are also. I have been on medicare for sometime...my bills are paid automatically I don't have to fill out any forms...except the first time I see a doctor I fill out my medicare info....But I am also the beneficiary of another government health plan...Tricare for Life which covers military retirees and spouses. Both these are government programs which work very well. I have never had a problem with the doctors I see nor the medications I have to take. By taking for-profit insurance out of the picture there would be a net savings.

Posted by: Joan on May 30, 2009 at 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

I'm with reaist. I am full time caregiver to my very frail 92-year-old mother for 9 1/2 years now.
In that that time there have been over 60 visits to the ER (mostly by ambulance)and over 35 hospitalizations/out-patient procedures, plus three month-long nursing home stays for rehab, plus she's on a feeding tube. In addition to her primary care physicians, an array of specialists, including two heart doctors, are involved in her care.

I handle all of my mother's affairs, and I have never, repeat never, had any type of billing problem with Medicare, and not one time has Medicare ever denied her any of the many treatments prescribed by her many doctors. She is free to pick and choose any specialist she needs to see without needing a referral. There is no Medicare paperwork for me to deal with except for opening the mountain of Medicare statements that regularly come in the mail telling what portion of each bill Medicare is paying to the provider and what portion is left for my mother to pay.

In contrast, just yesterday our home health care nurse was complaining about the difficulty of getting bills paid through her employer-provided private health insurance. In one case, it took her making many phone calls for nearly a year to resolve one claim for her son, and that almost all her family's claims require phone calls.

Medicare rocks as far I'm concerned. I have no fear of a government-run health insurance option based on my 9 1/2 problem-free years seeing how well Medicare has worked for my mother.

Posted by: Norwood Woman on May 30, 2009 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

"I'm skeptical about this adventure since no details have been put forth. I wonder if they will treat their system as any other health coverage - you can opt out if you so desire. I think that provision in the bill would make it much more palatable for the public."

The fact that you call it an "adventure" and don't know the details of what most Democrats favor in terms of coverage (look up "public option" on Google) tells us everything we need to know about your comments.

For my business, I pay $850 a month for basic coverage for a family of four. I would guess that my own family's utilization is around $300-500 a year, mostly basic doctor visits and a few prescriptions for minor ailments. Want to take a guess as to who is paying for those that don't have insurance ? By using taxes to subsidize insurance for those that cannot afford it, we can reduce the premiums on everyone that already has insurance by spreading the burden around to everyone. The public option would then serve as a floor on premiums, constantly keeping the for-profit insurance companies in check from having their premimums get too far out of line with the publicly-available health insurance. The public insurance won't be cadillac coverage, but it will be better than going to the emergency room with no coverage.

Posted by: OhNoNotAgain on May 30, 2009 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

Jake is an idiot. Most of the rest of the OECD has universal health care, most of those live longer, healthier lives, fewer of their babies die in infancy, and they spent thousands less per capita, and less as a percentage of GDP.

I've had two kids born under COBRA, in one case the hospital called us an hour or so after we arrived home with our new child to tell us that he was not covered. (What happened? The mother is covered under the COBRA policy, the new baby is born as a shiny new dependent under the new policy, and hence if the hospital files baby charges under the COBRA policy, they are denied because they should be under the new policy -- at least I think that is what happened. This, after hand delivering checks to my former employer for the previous 5 months, because late payments are not allowed, no grace period, no excuses, not just postmarked. Confusing paperwork, my ass. Private health insurance companies deliver an inferior product, they should go out of business.)

Posted by: dr2chase on May 30, 2009 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

I have retiree benefits that include medical/dental/pharmaceutical insurance. I pay a premium (which is increasing every year) of $3,648 per year. I have a $250 annual deductible, a maximum out-of-pocket cost of $3,200 per year if I use only in-network providers and up to $6,400 if using out-of-network providers. This is an individual policy. My drug benefits are excellent. Drugs manufactured by my employer are free, generics are $20 and non-Company brands are $40. Most drugs are covered, and I'm not aware of any annual limit. I'm not on that much medication, and my annual out-of-pocket cost is probably around $300.00. Total potential cost of my medical plan annually is between $6,800 and $10,000 (not including drugs). I haven't broken out either the deductible or out-of-pocket for dental, since that's not as frequently used.

The bottom line for me is that, other than the drug benefits, I would much prefer a single-payer program, which should be funded via taxes. Just as they are in those civilized countries which already have such programs.

For one thing, my former company could (as they clearly spell out in their information books) change or cancel entirely all benefits at any time. Secondly, my 25-year old son isn't insured. He's too old to be ensured under my plan, he's been unable to find a job with benefits, and neither of us can afford to pay for a private policy for him since he has some pre-existing medical conditions such as asthma. A single-payer plan would cover everyone without that fear of losing your insurance, or medical expenses that will end in bankruptcy.

Posted by: winddancer on May 30, 2009 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

Sixty-three percent of people questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey released Friday said they would favor an increase in the federal government's influence over their own health-care plans in an attempt to lower costs and provide coverage to more Americans;

Isn't one of the selling points of Obama's plan that there would be no increase in Federal influence over individual health care? Opponents use the word "control" in place of the word "influence", but with Federal influence that's a verbal distinction without an operational difference. Steve has written several times that there will be no increase in Federal control, and that claims to the contrary are "lies".

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on May 30, 2009 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

Indeed, conservative critics often pretend that "the cost of government health care" is an *added cost* to us, and not offset by what we save not paying the conventional insurance companies.

Posted by: Neil B ◄ on May 30, 2009 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

Among those who oppose government programs, the unspoken assumption is that any tax rips off of vulnerable, sitting duck citizens who are penalized because they have taxable income.

Here in CA, paralyzed by tax allergics in the state legislature, we teeter on the edge of social implosion: shut downs of schools, clinics, basic services, closure of hundreds of state parks. To all those cuts, add the loss of 1000s of (tax paying) jobs.

Put another way: self-righteous tax allergics want something (services) for nothing: exactly what they accuse impoverished aid recipients of wanting. The first thing this state needs (and Republicans in general need) is group therapy -- to look deep into their confusions and face facts. Government serves the people, including them; services cost; in this heretofore rich land of opportunity, those who most benefit from the freedoms and opportunities the country offers rightfully owe a larger percentage, Moreover, it is easier for them to contribute. (They may not like it, but in fact they can afford it.)

Done right, government provides more services for less cost. Yes, there can be waste: a fair tax code does not eliminate the apparently very human urge to cheat; that's why we also need regulation. I realize I preach to the choir, mainly, at this site, but it is strange that the tax haters are really, at heart, determined and true freeloaders. I, for one, think they they should be called out on it.

Posted by: Sf on May 30, 2009 at 7:54 PM | PERMALINK

A new national poll indicates that most Americans are receptive to having more government influence over their health care in return for lower costs and more coverage.

Then that is surely not going to happen.

Posted by: qwerty on May 30, 2009 at 8:10 PM | PERMALINK

Ah! Another word to add to my Republican "code word" dictionary:

entitlement - something I paid into MY WHOLE WORKING CAREER, but now the Republicans want to take it away from me!

Posted by: Glen on May 30, 2009 at 8:24 PM | PERMALINK

the idea that public opinion especially polls will mean that "the right will need to change its focus" are not based on any reality I am aware of. Substantiating proof and/or documentation please.

Posted by: mickster on May 30, 2009 at 11:45 PM | PERMALINK

If I could trade the over $500/month I pay for health insurance for a tax increase, I would take it in a minute.

While I don't believe for a minute my taxes would increase $500/month, I would pay more if I didn't have to worry about co-pays, denied claims, etc. etc. etc.

Posted by: smgumby on May 31, 2009 at 3:50 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly