Democrats & Liberals Archives

Your Money or Your Life

President George W. Bush is out selling health savings accounts (HSAs) as the way to fix our healthcare system. He says HSAs, which are tax free and run by the individual, will make individuals responsible for the money they spend on their healthcare and thus introduce healthy competition into our healthcare industry. His insistance that, armed with HSAs, each of us would spend our health dollars more carefully makes me think of the Jack Benny joke, “your money or your life.”

Way back in March of 1948, Jack Benny, one of the greatest comedians America has had, was confronted on his show with a gun-toting individual who said:

"Your money or your life."

Benny hesitated. So the hold-up artist repeated:

"Your money or your life."

After more hesitation, Benny said impatiently:

"I'm thinking. I'm thinking."

The audience went wild with unforgettable, delirious, spasmodic and energy-depleting laughter. They laughed and laughed and could not be controlled. I was consumed with laughter. It was probably the funniest episode I ever saw on TV.

Comes now unfunny Bush and asks us the same question, "your money or your life." When confronted with, say a heart attack, will you worry about your money or your life?

A long time ago, I had a heart attack. Since I had insurance - I wasn't as responsible as Bush would want - my wife called 911 and very soon a fireman who was probably twice as big as me lifted me from my bed as though he were lifting a feather. When I arrived at the hospital, my doctor was already there. Tests were made, some of them hurt more than the heart attack. However, I trusted my doctor, who was a friend and a relative. He conferred with other doctors and they all agreed that I needed a triple bypass as soon as possible. He asked me if I agreed. Of course. What else could I do? So I had the surgery done by the best surgeon in town. He did an excellent job. I'm here to tell you about it 25 years later.

Now Bush tells me that I and others like me are the reason for the increased costs of medical care. If only I had HSAs things would be different. I (and my wife) would be responsible.

After my wife called 911, for instance, and stated that there was an emergency, the attendant at the other end would probably say "we'll be right over." To which, my wife would say, "Before your do, tell me how much the ambulance would cost... That's too much... I think I'll try another way to get to the hospital."

When the doctor stated that we need to take tests, my wife (I did not have the energy) would ask, "Do we really need these tests?... Is there a cheaper way to do this? ... Can we find a doctor that does this for less?"

Then there was the surgeon. I remember visiting him and he was so calm and filled with confidence that I felt I could put myself in his hands. I remember him telling me what the surgery would cost - a huge sum. But I paid no mind. According to Bush, I was irresponsible. I should have bargained with him. I should have searched for another surgeon who would charge less.

Yes, maybe we could have saved a few thousand dollars. But then, my wife would probably have spent a little more than usual on the funeral.

I like the way things worked out with my health insurance. I hope they can work out in a similar way for everybody else by giving everybody else health insurance. Not HSAs.

When Bush, who is no Benny, totes his HSA-gun to your head and says, "your money or your life,"

LAUGH HYSTERICALLY IN HIS FACE!

Posted by Paul Siegel at February 17, 2006 5:40 PM
Comments
Comment #126607

Well stated!!!!

Posted by: Linda H at February 17, 2006 5:58 PM
Comment #126616

Exactly.. Seriously how many people are capable of saving enough money ($100,000 or more)to deal with a catastrophic medical event? What if both spouses are injured or ill?
Most of the middle class are just a few checks away from living in their car.
This HSA crap is just another half baked idea, brought to you by the compassionate conservatives who give everything so much thought.

Posted by: sndyrmony at February 17, 2006 6:25 PM
Comment #126621

Paul,
HSA’s are the stupidest idea yet put forth by the Bush administration, and that’s saying a lot. What the hell are these people thinking? They have absolutely no concept of what medical bills look like, or how high costs are when compared to most people’s income and savings.

Some of us will die quickly and not incur costs. For others it will be long and slow. Like most of us, I’ve known friends and relatives and acquaintences who have died of long-term, debilitating illnesses. There is no way an average family can handle it, no way. The largest cause of bankruptcy is caused by medical conditions.

Posted by: phx8 at February 17, 2006 6:43 PM
Comment #126620

I couldn’t agree more. Bush is wacked. And I don’t want to be Bushwacked!

Posted by: Black Cherry at February 17, 2006 6:43 PM
Comment #126632

I love Jack Benny. Great Reference!

I agree with you about HSA’s but I think the insurance system has to be changed.

I don’t like the fact that I have to pay for part of an operation when I’ve paid more than the cost of the operation into the system.

But at least health insurance is necessary. Car insurance is the biggest rip-off. Why the hell is health insurance optional but car insurance required? It’s as if the government thinks our cars are more important than our lives!

Posted by: The Traveler at February 17, 2006 7:07 PM
Comment #126640

It would really be nice if you lib bush bashers could actually deal with the facts instead of lying and trying to scare people. Your description of the HSA is not even remotely what they really are.
Here read for your self if you can.

http://www.msainfo.net/

Maybe someday you can actually speak the truth even though I doubt you know what that is. In the event you can’t actually click a link I’ll nutshell it for you. IT IS DESIGNED TO PAY DEDUCTIBLES. IT IS LIKE A SAVINGS ACCOUNT IF YOU DONT USE IT AND HAS TAX ADVANTAGES.

Posted by: Nunya at February 17, 2006 7:33 PM
Comment #126660

The accounts are not supposed to replace catastrophic health insurance. If you have a heart attack you will still tap into your insurance. You will use your HSA to pay for other health care needs. And you will have the option and the incentive to shop around.

This year, I took part in flexible savings account (FSA). This allows me to have a higher deductible. I have used the FSA (which is tax free) to pay for dentists, co pays etc. And it has made me more circumspect with the money. For example, my dentist wanted to do extra x rays. When I asked if they were needed, she said that it would be more convent to take new ones than get the old ones. For $150 I decided against it. I have to admit I probably would not have asked if the insurance had just kicked in and even if I asked, I probably would have considered $150 not much to pay to save a few phone calls.

There are lots of little things like that. When you go to the doctor, sometimes you get aspirin that costs ten dollars or optional therapies.

We just can’t afford to pay for things we don’t need. Doctors are professionals and we should listen to them. But we are not stupid objects and we should ask questions.

Posted by: Jack at February 17, 2006 8:27 PM
Comment #126663

Nunya

Your informative site is also one who has a vested interest in promoting HSA’s and selling insurance.
It also likes to bash Ted Kennedy. Possibly it has some connection with the RNC.

Posted by: Warren Dace at February 17, 2006 8:29 PM
Comment #126704

Nunya,
When you click on the site’s ‘about us’ link, it goes nowhere. I understand HSA’s are a great deal for insurers. Let me guess- you stand to personally profit from HSA’s.

Posted by: phx8 at February 17, 2006 10:23 PM
Comment #126707

Paul,

I hear you loud and clear. My first two children were born in the 70’s. At that time I was billed $1,000.00 per pregnancy which included all of the pre-natal visits and the first 6 weeks of “well baby” checkups. And the routine hospital stay cost $100.00 a day. And I could easily take home $125.00 a week without breaking a sweat.

Of course the ratio of medical staff vs. accounting staff was also quite different. The same family doctor (now commonly referred to as a primary care doc) helped deliver me and all three of my children into this world. He also provided care for my parents and grandparents.

My Doctor and I were friends, we fished together. Before his retirement in the 80’s he told me that “insurance billing” had become the most costly part of his practice. In the 70’s he shared a “doctors office” with three other doctors. Between them they shared one receptionist and two bookeepers and each doctor had a nurse.

Would you care to venture what the ratio is now between “provider” and “clerical/accounting”? I know the answer, but I’ll let everyone find it on their own. I will say no other “industry” could operate with these numbers.

Of course there are more complex and more costly procedures available today. But why should a simple five minute visit to renew your blood pressure meds cost nearly $70.00? If you can’t afford the visit and/or the meds who ends up paying? You do, when someone ends up in the ER!

I can’t complain now. Each and every taxpayer out there pays the “lions” share of my medical expenses due to my disability and it ain’t cheap.
The cost of my monthly medical procedures would easily pay the medical expenses of 4 or 5 average families.

I think the answer is easy. You taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for me to have better coverage than you can afford. The solution IMO amounts to one of two things:

(1)Do away with Medicare and Medicaid.
(2)Offer the same coverage to everyone.

Just for fun: When I was hospitalized in 2001 with Meningoencephalitis how much do you think I paid out-of-pocket?

Just for fun #2: How many of you are PO’ed over having to support my lazy ass.

Curiosity killed the “dem”.

KansasDem

Posted by: KansasDem at February 17, 2006 10:35 PM
Comment #126715

The big picture is being missed here. HSA’s pave the way for employers to dump health care benefits for their employees and shift the burden from employers to tax payers. That is what Bush’s strategy is, and it is being perpetrated quite effectively in light of the fact that no one else has picked up on this in this thread, yet.

Posted by: David R. Remer at February 17, 2006 10:46 PM
Comment #126719

“IT IS DESIGNED TO PAY DEDUCTIBLES. IT IS LIKE A SAVINGS ACCOUNT IF YOU DONT USE IT AND HAS TAX ADVANTAGES.

Posted by: Nunya at February 17, 2006 07:33 PM”

Nunya,
And it is designed to put people like me in the ground earlier!
Please rent a video of “Soylent Green”.

Also, explain how HSA’s will help a single parent flipping burgers at McDonalds or the ever increasing “part time” employees at wally-world.

I swear, the Neo-cons won’t be satisfied until they have the USA turned back to the 1920’s. No, I’m wrong, their “new world” would have to be a world where everyone shared the genes of Ebeneezer Scrooge and The Wicked Witch from Oz.

KansasDem

Posted by: KansasDem at February 17, 2006 10:58 PM
Comment #126722

“HSA’s pave the way for employers to dump health care benefits for their employees and shift the burden from employers to tax payers. That is what Bush’s strategy is, and it is being perpetrated quite effectively……..
Posted by: David R. Remer at February 17, 2006 10:46 PM”

David,
When you’re right you’re right, and you’re right. I’ve been out of the work force since 2001 so I have a different “slant” on things even though I see my kids struggling.

KansasDem

Posted by: KansasDem at February 17, 2006 11:05 PM
Comment #126724

Kansas

I don’t know your particular situation and will not speak to it.

But we do have the implicit problem of rationing. We can easily spend more keeping an infirm 90 year old alive for an additional six months than we spent in the entire 90 years up to that time. The demand for medical care can be limitless and we all will demand it. I would devote the whole GNP to save one of my kids. That is why you can’t let me have that option. We can’t restore everyone to health and nobody lives forever.

Countries with socialized medicine ration care and even practice euthenasia. Our system is giving us the worst of both worlds. I would not oppose national health care if I thought we could get the benefits of eliminating entrepreneurial trial lawyers and controlling costs, but Americans would probably demand the level American level of care, only for free.

The health savings plans are not part of this however. These health saving plans, are just a way that some people can save money and maybe make the system more efficient at least at the margins.

Posted by: Jack at February 17, 2006 11:17 PM
Comment #126726

David,
Good call. Also, something like 45 million Americans have no insurance. Why would tax-advantaged accounts be useful to the poorest members of society? And Jack’s comment also begs the question- with a high deductible, won’t people avoid taking preventative steps? Finally, let me take a wild guess- someone will have to collect fees to manage these accounts.

The whole idea reminds me of the harebrained Social Security boondoggle Bush pushed last year. It sounds like something insurers, mutual fund managers, the very wealthy, and possibly small business owners might favor- but that’s about it. It’s an idea doomed from the outset. Perhaps the Bush administration will learn from the public’s rejection of the plan to dismantle Social Security, and this time they’ll keep it quiet. See if they can slip this through without anyone noticing.

We’re coming up on a midterm election. Republican congressman won’t touch this with a ten foot pole if they suspect it will be exposed to the light of day.

Posted by: phx8 at February 17, 2006 11:19 PM
Comment #126730

Hey, this may be a little off the subject but I would like to ask a question. I heard today that one of the rules for use of the president’s prescription drug program is a signing away of the right to sue pharmaceutical companies if something with their product goes awry. Does anyone know if this in fact…fact?

Posted by: Scott at February 17, 2006 11:22 PM
Comment #126733

Phx8

Federal employees already have access to FSA, just as they have access to private savings accounts for retirement. So you can see all these things in practice already. Members of Congress also have such things. One of the better solutions (among the sub optimial options we have) would just be to give more, most or all American workers the options already enjoyed by the Feds re FSA and private savings accounts.

Re taking preventive steps, who knows? I know personally many people who don’t take care of their diabetes, weight problems etc. because they expect medicine to solve it. They are stupid people, but remember half of the population is below average intelligence.

I knew one woman who was so fat (sounds like a joke. It is, but not funny) that her ankles broke - twice. Each time she got them repaired, but she never bothered to lose weight. Personally, I would not pay for it the second time if it was my choice.

Posted by: Jack at February 17, 2006 11:29 PM
Comment #126745

Jack,
The only way to solve the issue of health care in America will require the goring of so many oxes, it will never happen. There is no reason we cannot cooperate as a society, and provide everyone with coverage up to a certain level. But that would involve barring malpractice lawsuits, complete removal of insurance companies from the process, lifting the artificial restrictions placed by the AMA on the number of MD’s trained, shunning Big Pharma, which is inefficient compared to government sponsored R & D, and other actions as well.

At some point the issue of Health Care will reach critical mass. Until it becomes truly critical, we’ll keep seeing these types of initiatives, bandaids which primarily benefit campaign contributing industries.

Posted by: phx8 at February 18, 2006 12:02 AM
Comment #126748

The best way to cure the ills of our HealthCare system is to get the middlemen (government and insurance) out of the picture. Neither add anything of net value. In fact, they both provide no net benefit.

Posted by: d.a.n at February 18, 2006 12:13 AM
Comment #126759

Lets hope this plan goes the way of GBsSS”reform”. The blame the victum aspect is just classic. Of course it will shift the cost on to workers. Thatis probably the idea.Plus it will make it easier to steal peoples money by having it in a pile.
I have sometimes pondered about what would happen if we tried really allowing the sacred “free market” to go to work in health care. Get rid of the AMAs anti=trust exemption for starters. Doctors and hospitals could advertize their prices,have sales,give estimates,warranties etc. It would be interesting anyway. Medicine is the only service sector where the more providers are in a given area the higher the average cost for the people in that area .

Posted by: BillS at February 18, 2006 12:29 AM
Comment #126777

“Hey, this may be a little off the subject but I would like to ask a question. I heard today that one of the rules for use of the president’s prescription drug program is a signing away of the right to sue pharmaceutical companies if something with their product goes awry. Does anyone know if this in fact…fact?

Posted by: Scott at February 17, 2006 11:22 PM”

Scott,
I think that’s BS. I’m on the new scrip plan (part D Medicare). Since it’s actually administered by individual insurance companies each insurance company may have some goofy rules.

Having had 3 kids and 3 wives with various medical problems I avoided any insurance company that I had trouble with in the past and, while far from being rich or even well off I opted for a high dollar plan with no “surprises”.

A few things did happen though. I used to be able to get a couple of my “high dollar” meds through the manufacturers for nearly nothing (like $15.00 a year). That’s no longer an option for me because I qualify for the part D. I suspect that those “free or reduced price” programs were somehow subsidized by your tax dollars anyway.

Honestly, I’ve got a great deal. I pay about $300.00 a month for insurance over and above Medicare and never more than $100.00 a month above that. But I earned a lot throughout my working life so I get a pretty nice check each and every month.

I “volunteer” at the senior center once or twice a week. (Well, in reality I just go over and get in the way) Many of those people live on $600.00 or $700.00 a month and most tell me this part D plan hurt them. I can still see fairly well and I help some of them shop. It’s truly sad to watch someone pass up food because they can’t afford it.

Do you suppose that “weiners” are better than chicken breasts and fresh veggies and fruit. One of Bush & Co’s future budget cuts includes that “food subsidy” program that provides the poor and elderly with stuff like rice, beans, cheese, various juices, powdered milk, etc.

I can tell you that’s going over like a pay toilet in a diarrhea ward.

KansasDem

Posted by: KansasDem at February 18, 2006 1:22 AM
Comment #126780

What a ridiculous article!!! Don’t the liberals who run this BLOG have some sort of oversight for absolutely researchless articles like this one. (Oh! I’m sorry, Paul did research some old TV Variety shows. Maybe next time he can write about Iran and talk about what that Iranian pro wrestler from the late 70’s said and did.)

I have insurance. I also have an HSA. I put in $100 a month so if we have a dental or medical deductible, guess what, it goes to that and it’s money that wasn’t federally taxed. THAT’S RIGHT PAUL! … DAMN THAT EVIL GEORGE BUSH FOR HELPING TO EASE MY MEDICAL CARE PAYMENTS BY GIVING ME A TAX BREAK ON DEDUCTIBLES. Hey!! And when you do your expose’ on the military, I think the TV Land Channel is still showing “Gomer Pyle”. Now, get back to that hard core studying!!

Posted by: Ken Cooper at February 18, 2006 1:25 AM
Comment #126781

“They are stupid people, but remember half of the population is below average intelligence.”

“I knew one woman who was so fat (sounds like a joke. It is, but not funny) that her ankles broke - twice. Each time she got them repaired, but she never bothered to lose weight. Personally, I would not pay for it the second time if it was my choice.

Posted by: Jack at February 17, 2006 11:29 PM”

I’m curious. If the FAT WOMAN fell down and died in the middle of the sidewalk how long would you step over and around her before you called the rendering service?

My son treats his livestock with more respect than you displayed with that comment.

KansasDem

Posted by: KansasDem at February 18, 2006 1:31 AM
Comment #126784

Paul,

I don’t know what it is about you, but somehow you always seem to bring out the true “compassion” in the conservatives every time.

Must be the “Soaring Siegel” blood pulsing through your veins.

Just keep up the good work.
KansasDem

Posted by: KansasDem at February 18, 2006 1:40 AM
Comment #126896

Warren and phx8

So is Paul’s description correct or is the one at the web site correct? I just put the first example I found (which took about 5 seconds) in the link. Address the issue of was it represented correctly or not which was my point.

Actually, I have insurance through my employer and don’t need an HSA and have nothing to do with the health care industry.

But thanks for once again demonstrating my point you did not address the accuracy of the original poster, which was not accurate.

As for helping a burger flipper, probably not. It will help some people. If I can buy a 2000.00 deductible policy for 150.00 a month or a 250.00 deductible for 450.00 a month (total guesses on the numbers, I admit), but hey, if you can lie I can guess. You tell me who would that help? The person would be protected from catastrophic problems (now they are not).

So what if it help 5% or 10% of the population? That is better than the Dems plan of 0%.

I digress, the fact still remains that my original point was about accuracy of the description of HSA’s. Take that point and multiply it by the number of descriptions the dems put out and you have a total distortion of just about everything they say.

So, I’ll give you another chance. Was the original description correct or not?

Posted by: Nunya at February 18, 2006 7:56 AM
Comment #126897

Get your facts right, HSA’s are used with High Deductible Health Plans. Look at some of the plans from health insurance providers, do a little homework before you bash.

Posted by: Michael Jason Bubczyk at February 18, 2006 7:59 AM
Comment #126926

some of this misinformation about hsa’s reminds me of the bs about welfare reform and how it wouldn’t work.

Posted by: mike h at February 18, 2006 9:24 AM
Comment #126930

Paul

Ok Paul you got me, your phrase does apply to HSA’s and I figured out you really work for a health insurance company or marketing company and were test marketing for a new commercial. Here, let me guess.

On screen the Jack Benny skit plays, the punch line is delivered. A light bulb comes on above Jack’s head and he says.

My money or my life? I’ll take both and go get an HSA savings account today so I can have MY MONEY AND MY LIFE.

Brought to you by xyz insurance company. Go get your HSA today.

Paul, your a genius. Did you have anything to do with the Bud commercials? I really liked those.

Posted by: Nunya at February 18, 2006 9:37 AM
Comment #126953

Sure FSAs are nice, but you’d need to have quite a large salary to completely fund your medical insurance from this…as is, FSAs pay for the stuff not covered by your insurance, e.g., glasses, vision exams…minor stuff, not surgeries!

Just think of the profits available to corporations if they no longer have to provide health insurance as a benefit…but do you actually think any prices would come down should this occur? Of course not!

This will abjectly hurt the working poor (who are already having to utilize food banks at a very high rate)…we need to have medical/health care for every person in the U.S. As it stands now, too many are still forced to use the emergency room as their primary “physician”…

How would the following people be able to fund their insurance through an HSA???

• The estimated number of people without health insurance has increased by 6 million since 2000, rising to 45.8 million, or more than one in seven people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

• The percentage of companies that offer health benefits - the primary source of insurance for people under 65 - fell to 60% last year from 69% in 2000, according to an annual survey by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, which does health policy research.

• The number of people who get health insurance through their employer dropped by 3.7 million from 2000 to 2004 while the population increased by 11.6 million.

• The number of people insured through Medicaid and affiliated programs rose to 37.5 million, or 12.9% of the population.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel online 2006-01-22

Posted by: Lynne at February 18, 2006 10:39 AM
Comment #126985
I have sometimes pondered about what would happen if we tried really allowing the sacred “free market” to go to work in health care. Get rid of the AMAs anti=trust exemption for starters. Doctors and hospitals could advertize their prices, have sales, give estimates, warranties etc.

It would be nice to know what things cost.
I might want to refuse services.

I know someone that recently went the doctor, and said they had some funny feelings in their chest. Not painful. The doctor said, go to the E.R. So they did. Said a heart rate of 50 (at rest) was too low. First I ever heard that (later, the cardiologist said the slow heart rate at rest is not a problem…it’s a good thing). So, they keep this person overnight in the hospital to monitor, and release the next day. Final total of BILLs: $15,000.00 (negotiated down to $8,000.00 . And, the final diagnosis for minor chest sensation (heart burn), which did not improve after getting the bill. In my opinion (having been there and observed all of it), it was a scam.

One big reason Health Care is increasing in cost and declining in quality is because of the huge (and growing fast) number of middlemen getting the lion’s share of all money in the system.

That could all be eliminated by making one simple change. Eliminate the middlemen, who not only add no net benefit, attempt to make medical decisions, over-complicate billing, and continually drive up all costs to pay their own salaries.

Also, HealthCare providers (doctors, nurses, technicians, etc.) are getting squeezed by:
(a) greedy insurance companies,
(b) and bureaucratic government

The solution is competing Simple-Medical-Funds operated 100% by HealthCare providers themselves, and monitored and audited by an independent organization that audits and grades each fund. Anyone U.S. Citizen paying into the fund is covered.

HealthCare providers feel the squeeze. If they don’t like it, they have the power to change it. If they did, they would probably increase their own profits, and provide higher quaility healthcare due to simplifications, savings, less bureaucracy, less paperwork, less billing, and a steady income that is a percentage of all participants incomes.

Some people will not like the fact that it is a percentage of income. The wealthy will dislike it. But, guess what? The wealthy don’t need it anyway. They can take their chances and pay out of their own pocket per incident rather than pay a percentage of income.

The point is, this does sound socialist, but what we’re doing now isn’t working, because greedy insurance companies, and wasteful, incompetent government are both unnecessarily making huge profits from everyone else’s misery. These middlemen are not needed. The healthcare providers don’t need them. They have only brainwashed all of us to think we do, and they are raping everyone, driving up overall costs, and creating a situation where more and more people every year can not afford insurance, much less the healthcare either. Most Americans have become so dependent on government and the corporations that control it, that they can no longer see how these skyrocketing costs of healthcare (and other systems too) are a result of what can be most accurately described as a huge scam.

Don’t we want the best healthcare for all with the least possible cost ? Look at public education. It isn’t the best in the world, but every child is entitled to an education. And, a large part of the problem with the education system is that it is top heavy with over-paid management. There is a decreasing number of underpaid teachers (i.e. the ratio of managers to students has increased drastically, while the ratio of teachers to students has fallen drastically). Again, it has been perverted over time. Reforms are needed. Like all things, given time, without sufficient transparency, accountability, and leadership, humans always find a way to abuse the system. It is a human failing of sorts, but one we can live with if wisely accounted for. That is, system designs often fail to take into account this unfortunate human factor. All systems need constant evaluation and oversight and law enforcement. Laws and consequences are the only thing between society and chaos. Otherwise, we naturally always end up with a corrupt, selfish, fiscally and morally bankrupt bunch similar to the bought-and-paid-for incumbents currently occupying cu$hy, coveted seats in the federal government.

But, this type of reform, and all others like it will be impossible until voters do what they were supposed to be doing all along, and always vote out (or recall) all irresponsible incumbents, every election.

Posted by: d.a.n at February 18, 2006 11:51 AM
Comment #127019

The logic behind HSA’s is simple. To qualify, the insured must purchase a “high-deductible” health insurance plan with whatever company they choose. The savings in premium between the high and low deductible plan is placed in a savings account which earns interest tax free. Doctors visits and other low cost medical care is paid from the savings account. If no care is needed, the savings account grows with compounding interest also tax free. The insured is in charge of managing his/her own account. What is so wrong with allowing the insured to manage the insurance for which he/she is paying the premium? If the amount of care received exceeds the high deductible amount the insurance kicks in. If no care is needed the savings account continues to grow as it is not a “use it or loose it” account.
Please understand that HSA’s were not designed to fix the whole health care system, but instead, designed for those who already could afford insurance so they could exercise some choice in their care delivery system. It’s a start, and perhaps will encourage additional ideas to help fix the mess.
Surley both liberal and conversative Americans can appreciate the benefit of individual choice.

Posted by: Jim Martin at February 18, 2006 1:09 PM
Comment #127102

Here is the problem I see with HSA’s.

They give a financial incentive NOT to go see your doctor regularly. If you have to pay for it yourself, you may not want to see that growing nest egg in your HSA get depleated from regular doctor visits and other “unnecessary” expenses. I’d reckon that many folks would rather see the money they’ve saved continue to grow so that they will have some extra money for sometime in the future. It’s a false economy.

Unfortunately, this may make health care MORE expensive because prevention is much more cost effective than dealing with disaster later. It’s cheaper to treat high blood pressure early with a generic drug or lifestyle change than to deal with expensive surgery later. I’d argue that with a financial disincentive for regular checkups, we’d miss a lot of early diagnoses of easily treated diseases. In the end we’d get a more heartache and a higher bill for it.

Posted by: DRA at February 18, 2006 4:25 PM
Comment #127131

Paul,

I am reminded of something someone told me once about just engaging in baseless partisan attacks…

It’s the one thing missing from your posts Paul, solutions. Are there any liberal solutions to the healthcare problem besides euphemisms for socialist healthcare?


Don’t get me wrong, I think healthcare in this country suffers from extremely poor service, limited choices, and high cost. But all of the solutions I have heard of from the left essentially involve government taking over more aspects of health care; from becoming the ‘insurance provider’ to completly taking over the industry.

What I find revealing is that liberal critics demonize but avoid revealing what they think should be done. Perhaps because they know that their solutions are not acceptable to the American people who reject socialism.

Posted by: eric simonson at February 18, 2006 5:26 PM
Comment #127160

>>What I find revealing is that liberal critics demonize but avoid revealing what they think should be done. Perhaps because they know that their solutions are not acceptable to the American people who reject socialism.

Posted by: eric simonson at February 18, 2006 05:26 PM

eric,

The free market has provided pharmiseutical corporations that price things out of the range of most Americans because of insurance abuses years ago. Medical facilities price medical services out of the range of most Americans because many have to provide free service to the working poor. Doctors and other providers price their services out of the range of most Americans because they have to make payments to all of the above. That’s why we call it out of control…the solution may very well be socialized medicine. If the market is broke, who can fix it? Not Cheney/Bush, for sure.

Posted by: Marysdude at February 18, 2006 6:32 PM
Comment #127709
So what if it help 5% or 10% of the population? That is better than the Dems plan of 0%.

Actually. most Dem plans would cover 100%.

Good article, Paul. As Jack and others have pointed out, HSAs make great tax shelters. Of course, they’re useless if you’re one of the 15% of Americans who can’t afford health insurance in the first place.

Frankly, I liked John Kerry’s Democratic health care plan to increase coverage, decrease costs, and improve quality. It made sense.

Posted by: American Pundit at February 20, 2006 6:27 AM
Comment #127747

Will someone please post the text from the Constitution that says the national government is in charge of insurance, health care, sick care, or the finances of the citizens.

Posted by: tim_lebsack at February 20, 2006 10:27 AM
Comment #127780

>>Will someone please post the text from the Constitution that says the national government is in charge of insurance, health care, sick care, or the finances of the citizens.

Posted by: tim_lebsack at February 20, 2006 10:27 AM

tim-,

Will someone please post the text from the Constitution that says the national government can legally eaves drop on American citizens without a warrant?

Posted by: Marysdude at February 20, 2006 12:08 PM
Comment #127841

I have no real problem with medical savings plans. They are a way for the self employed (I’m one of them) middle class people manage costs and keep themselves insured. I do have a problem when it is used to look like something is being done for those who cannot afford insurance. If one cannot afford insurance to begin with how can they afford insurance and contributions to a saving plan? MSA’s do nothing for those who cannot afford health care to begin with. It does help those who can afford coverage but would like to save on the premiums and suppliment it with an MSA.
In short it is not going to help the ones who cannot afford insurance to begin with.

As for those who claim liberals have no answers. If you reject our solutions out of hand, socialized medicine, of course we have no solutions. But the same could be said on conservatives. If we reject your solutions like MSA’s or private accounts you have no ideas either. The fact is the liberal idea is that health care is one of the few things that should not be profit driven. As for the arguement that competition actually provides better service that has proved itself not to be the case in the health care industry. The best way to save money is not to provide better services for less it is to cut costs. The only way to cut costs is to cut services and deny health care to those that need it the most. If you still believe competition makes for better care enroll into an HMO and tell me if the services provided are better. They are profitable though.

Posted by: zakquiet at February 20, 2006 2:22 PM
Comment #127845

Frankly, I liked John Kerry’s Democratic health care plan to increase coverage, decrease costs, and improve quality. It made sense.

Posted by: American Pundit at February 20, 2006 06:27 AM

How dare you contradict the conservative assertion that liberals have no plans of their own! Don’t you know if the talking points fed to them by the conservative media are contradicted their entire world perspective will…well… probably not change a bit. They never really needed facts anyway. Reality just tends to get in the way of good old fashioned blind loyalty to a party’s talking machine. As Colbert would say truthiness is good enough.

Posted by: zakquiet at February 20, 2006 2:33 PM
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