Midnight Rantings

Tired rantings in a tired world.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Get Ready for Socialized Medicine.

Here in the great(?) State of Tennessee we have something called Tenncare. This wonderful entitlement was started to replace Medicaid and keep costs down. During Clinton I the national healthcare "crisis" was being discussed. Tennessee managed to get a waiver to experiment with alternatives to provide healthcare and keep costs down. Like so many things from liberals, the intentions were very good, but the reality was vastly different.

Flashforward to the present. Tenncare in its present form is unworkable. Even our governor, who I think is doing a much better job than the previous governor, said: TennCare (is not) "not viable". As the monster grows the recovery of our state is in jeapordy. This link is a good article on the woes of the future for Tenncare. The governor hired a consulting company to look into Tenncare and try to forsee the future. Here is what they said: TennCare expenses would grow to between $11.8 and $12.6 billion annually by 2008, compared to $6.9 billion in 2003. As a percentage of the state budget, TennCare is expected to climb to 34-40 percent in 2008, compared to 25 percent this year. Right now, Tenncare is 25 percent of the budget. One out four dollars goes to Tenncare. I would like all teachers to reread that and digest it. A quick Google search found that in 2000 Tennessee spent 18.2% on education. Maybe spending more on education (another rant at another time) will decrease the impoverished and maybe decrease Tenncare roles.

On a national stage, lets extrapolate Tenncare to a national health care plan. For last year according to the Whitehouse, the government spent 2.05 trillion dollars. By my calculations we would spend approximately 500 billion dollars. In 2008 Tenncare is estimated to be 30-40% of the budget. So if we had a national healthcare, we would be spending 600 to 820 billion dollars. Unfortunately, the government always underestimates how much a program will cost in the future. All of these numbers are based on a percentage of outlays. On this page one sees that the amount brought in is almost half of amount spent. Who runs their household like that?

Although there are many without healthcare insurance, that does not mean they do not have health care. During the upcoming debates, and there will be alot, do not forget that. Many of the "working poor" can get healthcare through organizations devoted to that demographic. The reason most want health insurance is not to cover doctor's visits or maybe even medicine (drug companies have programs to get medicine to people that need it). The reason people want health insurance to provide benefits for hospitalization. Hospital stays can be prohibitively expensive. Therefore, insurance for hospitalization may be a better alternative. By using the Byzantine tax code (see below), tax deductions could be given to companies providing hospital benefits. This would give companies an insentive to offer insurance, and competition for providing this insurance would be in place.

Last point, if socialized medicine is so great, why are Canadians coming here for healthcare?