As the debate over the proposed new government health care plan
continues to percolate, we hear much banter about the urgency and
moral imperative being sacrosanct.
Just who are against the reform effort? From my perspective,
they are either very content with their remuneration being provided
by the insurance companies or their ancillary networks, or they are
conservative ideologues who firmly believe that “government is
what’s wrong with this country” and “the private sector always does
it better.”
I am a long time small business owner who has been in the
“health insurance business” as an employer since 1974. At one time,
I was able to cover “all” employees and their families and still
make a profit. The plans then offered generally carried the same or
similar coverage and the premiums were generally affordable as a
reasonable business expense.
There were many carriers and agents to choose from and
competition was keen for my business. Today, health insurance
companies, in many instances, are virtual monopolies.
This year my medical insurance premium increased 49.6 percent
over last year.
I am now unable to cover all employees so must insist on certain
criteria for them to meet regular-full-time status and
I am also unable to cover their family members. To extend those
benefits today could eliminate my profit and potentially force me
out of business.
I also make a lousy “health insurance agent” because I must
first consider my business situation and the impact before the
considerations of what the health care plan will bring to my
If that’s not bad enough, I also have a fiduciary responsibility
to terminated employees for their healthcare if they so choose
(although they must pay the premiums).
With these experiences in mind I have become an advocate for a
single payer approach. Since I am now eligible for medicare, have
researched its business model, and also the approach that many
other developed nations take with government involved models. It
seems clear that we are the odd man out with the “for profit”
system we now employ.
Inside the United States, we decry the Canadian and English
systems, but their citizens don’t. A good friend who has lived in
Toronto since high school wrote last week that some American
television isn’t getting it right with their coverage. She says
they get very good care and most folks are well satisfied.
My family MD of 15 years, a very politically conservative fellow
himself, also informed me of his advocacy for the single payer
system at my checkup last month. I actually was surprised and
delighted with his “news.”
Without government all roads would be toll and citizens might be
denied access for any reason (it’s happened in the past). Without
government, national and state parks would be at the mercy of
entrepreneurs for ingenious money making schemes instead of the
pristine pleasure for us all.
Without government, our national, state and local security would
be provided by militias, a scenario we see nightly on television
news around the world. Police and fire protection would be “your”
problem. Government isn’t bad or evil, it’s we the people coming
together, when necessary, for the common good.
If the current system of health care delivery proves to be the
best we can do after reform, so it shall prevail.
I say enact the reform measures articulated by the Obama
administration now. It’s not single payer but it addresses many of
today’s ills (not a play on words). Inaction will leave us all
vulnerable to a healthcare system in crisis.
John Lloyd is a Healdsburg resident.

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