Profits Bad, Debt Good–Really? (EP.154)

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Introduction

Our–emphasis on our–national debt is skyrocketing. We are currently at $22 trillion, adding about $1 trillion a year. This is a bipartisan attack on our economic infrastructure.

Profits are increasingly under attack, with at least two of the leading Democratic presidential contenders claiming that healthcare industry profits “rip billions from healthcare”, effectively stealing money from the people who need it the most.

Put these two facts together, and this underlying economic philosophy is “Profits are bad, debt is good.

That is the subject of today’s 10-minute blog/podcast.

Continuing

We live in a unique and exceptional nation; part of the equally unique and exceptional role we all play in our country is to understand how American healthcare should work, and to hold our politicians to that strategy. 

My wife, Marcia, and I recently went car shopping. She had been wanting a Toyota Avalon for a few years now, and as her much used 2008 Subaru Outback needed more and more repairs, it seemed like a good time. After a few test drives and a few days of back-and-forth negotiating, we struck what appeared to be a good deal. When we got the right balance of trade-in value and new car price, we paid up and left with the car. And Marcia is still chirping. 

At no point did we concern ourselves with what kind of profits Toyota was making, or even how the dealer fared. We cared about the value we were receiving for the money we were spending. And we do want both the manufacturer and the dealer to make a profit and stay in business. In part to be around to service Marcia and her new car, and in part to continue to provide jobs, competition in the vehicle marketplace, and add their pieces to the economy. 

Why would it be any different with healthcare? Why is making a profit a bad thing? Don’t we want hospitals, physician’s offices, Urgent Care and the local doc-in-the-box to be financially healthy so they can be around to provide continuing care? Or is it that we think that the government can run healthcare so efficiently that healthcare will cost less with the government running it than with private business running it? If that is the argument, where is the evidence? The VA? The Post Office? 

If you scratch at the “profit-is-bad therefore we should insist that Medicare For All (MFA) be the one and only healthcare plan allowed” argument, making employer-based plans illegal, you get two things under your fingernails:

  1. Medicare For All needs the relatively healthy workers and their families who are currently being covered under their employers so that MFA won’t be an even bigger financial disaster than it would be without them. Obamacare also needed the younger and healthier, hence the need to fine them if they did not choose to have coverage.
  2. The MFA people want government to run just about everything. 

I was on private health insurance, save for my time in the Army, until a few years ago when I went on Medicare. This is highly anecdotal, but I will tie my experience to the larger picture in a moment. Over my years on Medicare, I have: 

  1. Seen certain of my physicians limiting Medicare patients to a few hours, one or two days a week. 
  2. Seen that some prospective healthcare providers won’t even take my information until they have a “Medicare patient opening.”
  3. Been told that my access to drugs is limited because I am on Medicare. 
  4. Gone through a decline in the experience level of my providers. Where I once would routinely consult with a physician if I had an issue, I was reduced to seeing physician’s assistants and nurse practitioners. Now I am screened by medical assistants before I am allowed to consult with a PA or NP.
  5. Seen the Medicare-driven paperwork rise dramatically.

Side Note: I was in the workforce for 60 years; my Medicare and Social Security are fully paid for. In fact, more than paid for. I expect more for my hard work.

Here’s the promised tie to to my personal experience. John Delaney, a Democratic presidential candidate, said in the most recent debate that Medicare pays for 80% of the patient’s expenses, and private health insurance pays for 120% of the patient’s expenses. In other words, healthcare facilities can stay in business only if they have more privately insured patients than Medicare patients. What do you suppose might happen if all the patients were under Medicare? These economics explain my declining experience with Medicare.

Note that the MFA supporters are quite willing to spend additional trillions of, yes, taxpayer dollars, in order for the government to completely take the healthcare industry away from private companies. Let’s go back to the Toyota example. Lots of companies make money in the vehicle industry; manufacturers, dealers, repair shops, etc. While not easy, the auto industry is certainly more straightforward than healthcare. Is there anyone who thinks that if the government made cars that it would do anything but make a lower quality car for more money compared to its private competitors, including Toyota? Well, the way for the government to fix that little problem would be to make privately made cars illegal. That would give us the Trabant. A terrible car for too much money–and you had to wait to get one. It sold because the government would not allow the people to buy anything else. Sound familiar? Can we learn anything from this example?

The profits are bad, debt is good picture looks even worse when you add in one more fact. In the debates to date, the main objection to MFA was not as much that it is a bad idea at a ruinous cost as it was “impractical.” In other words, “We can’t sell this–yet.”

Today’s Key Point: Free is not a human right; reasonable access is. And that applies to healthcare–and just about everything else.

If you like what you read or heard today or any other day, share this podcast, or the site itself with one other person. “Each one, reach one.”

Segueing from the specifics of today’s topic to overall principles, the core, driving principles at Revolution 2.0, are:

  1. Personal Responsibility; take it, teach it and,
  2. Be Your Brother’s Keeper. The answer to the biblical question, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” is a ringing, unequivocal “Yes.” There is no other answer.

And do it all in love; without love, these are empty gestures, destined to go nowhere and mean nothing.

If we apply those two core principles, personal responsibility and brother’s keepers, simultaneously, never only one or the other, we will always be on the right path. Depending upon what we face, one principle or the other may appropriately be given more emphasis, but they are always acted upon together.

The Founders, Revolution 1.0, were declared traitors by the British Crown, and their lives were forfeit if caught. We risk very little by stepping up and participating in Revolution 2.0™. In fact, we risk our futures if we don’t. 

Revolution 1.0 in 1776 was built by people talking to other people, agreeing and disagreeing, but always finding ways to stay united and go forward. Revolution 2.0 will be built the same way.

Don’t forget to visit the store. Fun stuff, including hats, mugs and t-shirts. Recommend other items that you’d like to see.

Links and References

Is Healthcare a Right? (Written blog only)

Trabant

As we get ready to wrap up, please do respond in the blog with comments or questions about this podcast or anything that comes to mind, or connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. And you can subscribe to the podcast on your favorite device through Apple Podcasts, Google, or Stitcher.

Know your stuff, then act on it. Knowing your stuff without acting is empty; acting without knowing is dangerous.

Will Luden, writing to you from my home office at 7,200’ in Colorado Springs.

 

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Will Luden

I am your host, Will Luden, former long-time high-tech CEO and Board Chair. I had no idea when I started this podcast that it would become the highest calling of my professional career. Lincoln famously hoped that a government, “…of the people, by the people and for the people…”, would not perish from this earth. My hope, the reason for Revolution 2.0 ”A Booster Shot”, is that a government based on common goals, achieved by applying non agenda-based reasoning to core facts, will allow us to continue to build on our mutual inheritance of a legacy of dedication to seemingly impossible ideals, a legacy that also includes a history of achieving them.
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