Diary

Sometimes you actually do

Read a couple stories this morning that drove home the cliched point that indeed, sometimes you actually do hate it when you’re right. Happened twice in fact. But I’m also sure that I’d have willingly traded a friend to not have had Obamacare become law. Let me explain.

Just before it passed I was perusing Facebook and saw that a friend who’d been obviously supportive of the bill had posted something to the effect that she hoped it got done. I commented “I sincerely hope you’re mistaken” or words to that effect; just a single sentence.

I got back a pretty lengthy private message detailing the medical issues her child has and prominent in her reasoning — candidly, the single biggest part of her reasoning– was being able to insure the kid. She said that her daughter’s insurance would run $2500 a month, assuming she could get it. I got the distinct impression that she was between policies since this was a sporadic condition her child suffers from. Now not knowing anyone’s finances I do know that this gal ranks pretty high in the hierarchy of our common employer and her husband also works for the same company. I don’t know it but I’d be dumbfounded if they couldn’t arrange their family budget to cover this. My point is, they’re not living under an overpass somewhere and in fact, she’s quite likely “evil rich.”

I refrained from replying with the simple, yet I believe truthful response, that she sounded like she was most interested in shunting the cost off onto someone else. Hey to me, this is almost the most common human reaction there is — maybe someone else will pay. I don’t necessarily think less of her for it. We originally became friendly from exchange on an inside-the-company discussion board, later on she was my manager, and for sometime essentially my mentor; she’s bright, energetic, fun to be around and articulate. Maybe most important for a boss, she was honest and had integrity. (Just realized I used past tense there… hmmm.) I thought a lot of her before she was my boss as well as afterward; anyone who’s ever found themselves working for a friend knows that that happy scenario doesn’t always play out. I’ve had it go both ways.

In my reply, my first statement to her expressed my genuine sympathy for her situation; any parent would feel the same. I really felt, and still feel, bad for her, but I also believe there are some things bigger than any individual and certainly the situation with this legal monstrosity is one. The second statement I made was to say I wouldn’t bore her with a recitation of the very obvious facts that make the bill baldly unconstitutional because I believed she probably knew them already, nor would I make the, also obvious, argument that there was no experience to support the notion that government was capable of runnng any bureaucracy of this magnitude (right, right, should have said “any magnitude”).

Instead, I limited my argument, in gentle, respectful style (which isn’t necessarily my default mode!) to three obvious– to me, anyway– points: first that there was simply no set of conditions that would allow any insurer to write policies for new coverage with, effectively, no underwriting standards and not do one of two things, either withdraw from the health insurance business or dramatically raise rates for all their policy holders.

So this morning I see in an AP story that “Some major health insurance companies will no longer issue certain types of policies for children, an unintended consequence of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul law, state officials said Friday.” It goes on to say

Starting later this year, the health care overhaul law requires insurers to accept children regardless of medical problems — a major early benefit of the complex legislation. Insurers are worried that parents will wait until kids get sick to sign them up, saddling the companies with unpredictable costs.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida issues about 9,000 to 10,000 new policies a year that only cover children. Vice president Randy Kammer said the company’s experts calculated that guaranteeing coverage for children could raise premiums for other individual policy holders by as much as 20 percent.

“We believe that the majority of people who would buy this policy were going to use it immediately, probably for high cost claims,” said Kammer. “Guaranteed issue means you could technically buy it on the way to the hospital.”

Well, that’s QED for my first point. My second point to her was that given human nature, if medical care suddenly appeared to be “free,” suddenly forcing everyone without it to buy increasingly unaffordable insurance, then trying to freeze the costs, that the insurer of last resort– Uncle Sam– not raising taxes as promised, rationing care was inevitable. (Yes, there are a whole raft of arguments here that I didn’t bother with.) So, the QED on this one was in the London Telgraph this morning, “Axe falls on NHS services” which among other things says “Some of the most common operations — including hip replacements and cataract surgery — will be rationed as part of attempts to save billions of pounds, despite government promises that front-line services would be protected.” That is in your face rationing. Respecting her intelligence I refrained from making the obvious point that no longer would she be the ultimate arbiter of her daughter’s well-being due to the danger that some pencil pusher in DC might decide her child goes untreated.

My third point was a good deal more esoteric; I don’t have the evidence — yet– to back it up and that was that based on my long experience on the edges of the pharmaceutical business it was inevitable that less research would be done resulting in fewer life saving drugs discovered and ultimately, human beings would die as a result.

Her response? She never bothered to reply, she just “un-friended” me. Am I sorry? Yeah I am. Am I offended or surprised? No. In fact, all she did was prove a second cliche, as I mentioned up top– liberals are intolerant and brook no argument.