This is what scares the hell out of me about Romney et al

Most of the time I’m just playing partisan when criticizing politicians. But these guys worry me and it’s not just Romney per see, it’s the entire GOP-conservative corporate nexus on healthcare that scares the shit out of me. Some reported details, if you can call them that, on Romney’s answer to Romneycare have been leaking out and if they’re accurate they’re terrifying for me and millions of boomers in my age group:

(LA Times) — The centerpiece of Romney’s plan would overhaul the way most Americans get their health coverage: at work. He would do so by giving Americans a tax break to buy their own health plans….While offering consumers more choices, Romney’s plan would give companies strong incentives to stop providing insurance to workers.

This has been the goal for many corporate conservatives for a long time. Divorce healthcare from employers, throw you out there on your own, save money for the stockholders. Romney and others seem to think that can be done by offering a fat tax cut on your gads of disposable income, so that you can offset the cost of an individual policy.

What planet are these jokers living on? Putting aside the idea that a tax cut doesn’t do almost half the population a lick of good, there are no affordable health insurance policies for a fifty year-old guy like me available on the private market. None, nada, zilch. Check for yourself, go out and get a quote on an individual policy for a fifty year-old with minor preexisting conditions and an autoimmune disease with similar deducts, Rx, and copays. Go ahead, I’ll wait right here for you freedom loving libertarians to find and link a plan with a major or at least half-ass reputable company comparable to the employer based one I have now with CIGNA. And BTW, I am insurance licensed, if you try to snow me I’ll cyber publicly humiliate you …

The rest of you already know the math don’t you? Now try it for someone in their 40s who’s had breast cancer, or 58 years old with diabetes, or a young 22-year-old with a congenital heart defect. Those policies either do not exist or they are exorbitantly priced. Few people in the 99% will be to afford one, for themselves let alone their family, with or without a Tax Cut. If this is Romney’s plan, it is a fucking death sentence for millions of Americans, it will certainly cost is way more money at best, probably come with increased suffering and debt for individual and government eventually, and that all probably includes me.


  1. unbound says

    I agree 100%. The companies have already shifted a good deal of the health insurance burden onto the employees which is causing all kinds of problems. And you darn well know that, if Romney’s plan got implemented, corporations would not even be giving their employees the money they were spending on them for health insurance…they would just keep that money as increase in profits (again).

    One minor quibble with your post. For the phrase “… the goal for many corporate conservatives…”, the last word is irrelevant. In all my interactions with corporations mid-sized and larger, I have never met anyone at the senior management level that was anything but conservative in this context. They are good people to their friends, but for the resources that are more than a couple of levels below them, they are not viewed as anything other than a cost of doing business.

  2. says

    Math? I don’t need no stinkin’ math. All I need is the experience of a friend who lost her job, is now trying to find an individual health-insurance policy, and is finding insurance companies slamming doors in her face — not because she can’t pay, but because the insurers simply refuse to cover her.

    The Republicans’ rhetoric on health care has become COMPLETELY DIVORCED from the reality that ordinary Americans face every day. Completely. They don’t even care, and they’re surrounding themselves with a shield of pure hysteria, incoherent noise, and lies.

  3. Blueaussi says

    If Republicans go forward with their pseudo-healthcare plans, they’re going to have to back off their strong anti-immigration stance. Otherwise there will be no workers for the 1% to fleece.

  4. d cwilson says

    If we had a public option on the table, I’d be all for divorcing our health coverage from our employers. It would certainly end all the whining about how their religious freedom is more important that my right to have needed health care.

    Romney’s got an uphill battle on the health care debate since he’s running against both Obama and his own record.

  5. unbound says

    @d cwilson – I do have a concern that if Romney pushes this new option, it will resonate with conservatives and sufficient numbers of independents well enough that they will ignore Romney’s past record. Most voters think all politicians flip-flop equally (so Romney’s flip-flopping is nothing special), and I think very, very few people understand the brutal reality of trying to get insurance as an individuals.

    Of course, most voters won’t see this catastrophe until it is far too late…

  6. says

    This has been the goal for many corporate conservatives for a long time.

    Really? I was under the impression that most corporations love emplyer-based healthcare. After all, if you depend on your employer for your health care, you won’t be able to quit no matter how horrible they are treating you. Especially once you have a pre-existing condition.

    The only companies who I would expect to want to end employer provided health care would be the health insurance industry itself. The can get much better prices if they can deal with individual customers, instead of having to negotiate with other large companies that know how to talk money.

  7. janiceintoronto says

    The American health care insurance scam is inhumane at best.

    Why are you so afraid of socialized medicine? It works here in Canada.

    I feel sorry for you guys, but I don’t see your situation getting any better no matter who you elect. There are just too many Americans afraid of socialism in general who don’t even know how it works or even what it is.

  8. =8)-DX says

    This kind of debate is why (as a European) my main argument and basic principle is Universal Healthcare. You can argue private health insurance with a public option, or have publicly regulated and guarranteed private health insurance companies, or a fully nationalised and state-owned healthcare system. You can have private or public hospitals and doctors, dentists etc. You can argue how its going to be paid, by whom and when. You can argue about how to make the system more efficient, save on pointless procedures, Big Pharma lobby groups, whatever.

    But all the debate should be subservient to the greater general principle of universal healthcare. Everyone gets sick. Getting sick makes you less productive to society and a burden to the system. Healthcare is something everyone needs, and something that can incur excessive costs an individual cannot be expected to prepare for. Any system someone comes up with should, at the end of the day, lead to a society where if I get sick, I go to a hospital or medical professional and get treatment. Anything else is inhumane and the results can only be wastefully expensive or destructive.

  9. rowanvt says

    I’m 29, female, and relatively healthy. My private health insurance was costing me $350 a month. That’s just about 20% of what I make each month, after taxes. I don’t get anywhere near that amount of money taken out IN taxes so a tax break would do me fuck all in the way of good.

  10. iknklast says

    “The Republicans’ rhetoric has become COMPLETELY DIVORCED from the reality that ordinary Americans face every day”

    This makes it just a bit more accurate – it’s not just their rhetoric on health care, but on EVERYTHING.

  11. unbound says

    @Deen – Actually, most corporations do not like taking care of health insurance. It doesn’t lock in the employees nearly as much as you would think since salaries are relatively consistent from company to another (corporate HR departments talk to each other to accomplish that…mine even admitted to it until a few years ago).

    Keep in mind that once corporations can remove health insurance costs from their books, it will be a nice profit improvement. I guarantee the corporations will not transfer what they spend to the individual employees to help them get appropriate coverage.

  12. Makoto says

    As a mid-30’s male who was first diagnosed with testicular cancer 7 years ago, with another battle 5 years ago, I can’t afford health insurance anymore, and haven’t been able to for about 2 years now.

    The really scary part is, I’m not sure if I have cancer or not right now, because I can’t get to a doctor to check, because none of them will take me without insurance, and what plans I can find that will cover me are either more than I make in a month or are offered by shady places that aren’t actually accepted by the doctors who can check me out.

    I find it shocking that we in the US consider ourselves a first world country, and yet we can’t care for our citizens for something as basic as health care. We could do it, but people scream “BUT FREEDOM!!1!” if you try to unify the system and make it so it can cover everyone. Even the ACA, the muddled pile of compromises that it is, is better than what we currently have, and even that apparently is too much for some people.

  13. says

    An individual policy comaprable to what I have now would be around a thousand a month for me, and it won’t cover any preexisting conditions. At age 50 virtually any condition could be deemed preexisting short of car wrecks and similar accidents. Like the poster above, I don;t pay anywhere near that in taxes each month so a tax cut would be almost worthless.

  14. jufulu says

    I’m going to start out by saying that I agree with what everyone has said up to this point. If I had my way we’d have universal healthcare or at a minimum, a public option.

    And now the however.

    I think we should tax employer provided healthcare insurance as income and/or stop employer provided healthcare insurance because our healthcare system is broken for exactly the reasons given up thread. Americans need a huge slap in the face (and are starting to get it) to gain empathy for those who can’t afford insurance. To illustrate I would like to provide a personal anecdote. Large numbers of those in my profession are what is termed ‘unbenefited employees’. The way they avoid problems obtaining health insurance is that their spouses get it through the spouse’s employers. These are the same people who feel that that they shouldn’t have to pay for someone else’s healthcare. These people need a ‘boot to the head’.

  15. redpanda says

    I do think that moving away from employer-run health care can be a good thing (thus making people’s health insurance somewhat less dependent on their current state of employment), but ONLY if it is done so that there is an affordable alternative. As you point out, a significant fraction of Americans simply do not pay enough in taxes for tax breaks to provide a viable alternative.

    I have a classmate in medical school (!) who is a pretty staunch Randian, and while he seems to agree with your argument that it’s not a viable alternative, I think he places a higher value on individual liberty than he does on human life. I’ll see if I can get him to comment here.

  16. 'Tis Himself says

    Employer-offered health insurance came about during World War II. Because millions of men (and some women) were in the military, most companies were suffering a worker shortage. Because of how the tax laws were written, health insurance, which was then quite cheap, was not taxed either for the employer or the employee. So most large and middle-sized companies offered health insurance as a benefit.

    After the war, when government-paid health coverage was being enacted in Britain, Canada, etc., most American workers and their families were covered. Those who weren’t (self-employed or working for a small company) could afford to buy their own insurance. Since that time, insurance costs have skyrocketed, outstripping inflation.

    Despite what the conservatives may want, some form of universal health care is going to happen in the US in the foreseeable future, especially if Romney and his mentors have their way.

  17. keithharwood00 says

    Here in Oz, most people have health insurance that they pay for themselves. I have heard that there are companies here that pay for employees’ insurance but I do not know of any such company and I’ve never met anyone who had worked for one.

    I am a 69-year-old man with active cancer and I have no problem getting health insurance at $700-800 per annum. Earlier this year I went into a private hospital to have a vertebra removed (the cancer had eaten it away and it had collapsed) and it cost me $200. The rest was covered by the insurance.

    I don’t see how the American insurance companies can possibly justify extorting #350 a month from a 29-year-old woman. Nor do I see how they can justify refusing to insure someone. Here everyone can get insurance and pre-existing conditions are covered after a waiting period, typically six months (one year for pregnncy).

  18. leftwingfox says

    Hell, I kept more money at $15/hour in Atlantic Canada than I did at $15/hour in California when taxes and healthcare were factored in. And that was with a crappy HMO plan with high deductables, co-pays, lifetime limits and a limited network of providers. With provincial care, I could choose any doctor in the province, paid less for prescription drugs, and office benefits were free to me, and paid just as well for dental and vision, covered a larger percentage of the remaining drug cost, and even covered a fairly sizeable amount of woo. =/

    I had MORE tangible freedom under the Canadian system than the US one when it came to choosing doctors, pharmacies and treatment options.

    A lot of Free Market Fundies try and frame this as “Why should I pay for someone else’s healthcare?” The catch is, that unless the US wants to make emergency care available only to those who can agree to pay the entire amount, without being discharged by bankruptcy, they already ARE paying for other’s healthcare in huge amount, and getting little personal benefit for their own payments. Individual savings are far less effective than pooled earnings, especially since people who otherwise would not be paying into the US system (the poor, the unemployed, the uninsured, underinsured and uninsurable), ARE paying into the Canadian system through sales tax, property tax, and payroll tax.

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