Thursday, March 3, 2011

Gas Prices and Health Insurance

My good friend Tom Stewart posted the price he paid for gasoline this morning on FaceBook.

As a funny retort I mentioned he could use his savings on health insurance premiums to pay for the extra cost of gas.

He didn't think it was funny.

With the Obamacare bill that was passed last year and all the debate on health insurance for "all Americans," it will not come as a surprise for most that we will see little reduction in what we spend on health care.

First of all, the bill purportedly covers a host of new people (estimates are vague at best, but let's say 30 million) which aren't already covered.

There is a very real cost associated with these new participants in the health care scheme. No doubt they were accessing our health care system in some form or fashion prior to the new bill, but with the extra benefits afforded patients under the new plan, there will be additional costs.

States are now grappling with the fact that much of the cost of this health care bill is being passed on them, and of course on to the citizen tax payers.

We have seen the state response vary from attempting to obtain a waiver so they don't have to participate, to filing federal lawsuits (now on the way to the Supreme Court), to threatening Wisconsin-Democrat style political participation -- we'll just leave.

What's really interesting to me is the reason for the bill in the first place: "we can't afford these rising health care costs."

Mr. Obama used his town hall stump speech around American espousing how much health care costs add to the cost of a Chevrolet, how Medicare is going broke and won't be able to care for the baby boomers, and how cheap medications are if you buy them in Mexico or Canada.

So in the satirical wit that I'm known for, I thought I would try to draw some comparisons and contrast with the cost of Zocor and Shell Premium Gas:

1) Has anyone ever looked at the cost of energy used to produce a Chevrolet? From the coal used to make the energy to make the steel to the oil used to power the locomotives to carry the parts to a Detroit plant operated on electricity produced from natural gas and coal. Get the picture?

2) Theoretically Zocor will make you live longer and healthier. Has the rising cost of gas at the pump lead to being able to live longer and healthier with the energy we have?

Doubtful.

Instead most energy companies use the added profits to search for more traditional energy sources rather than create ways to make do better with what we have.

You only have to drive through the northern part of central Texas and see the moon-scape remains of Chesapeake energy as they search for natural gas. With the advent of horizontal drilling technologies and "fracturing" they have created sources of "clean and affordable" natural gas.

3) The new health bill will limit the purchase of cheaper medications from foreign companies. Does any of our current energy policy limit the purchase of foreign oil?

4) We import most of our energy, and we export most of our drug technology to the rest of the world. If we limit the profits of pharmaceutical companies will we stifle drug innovation and new therapies or treatments? If we limit our reliance on foreign oil, will we then promote better reliance on living with what we have and promoting a more sustainable energy policy?

5) PHARMA is a new set of rules that prevent the pharmaceutical companies from entertaining physicians and consumers of health care services. Do we have similar rules relating to energy companies? I wonder if Halliburton has a Washington, DC office?

6) There might be a similarity in the two issues relating to radiation. The bill puts significant curbs on physician owned facilities -- mostly radiology services like MRI and CT machines. And despite the reliability and environmentally friendly nuclear power option -- we aren't building any significant plans anytime soon.

7) And do we provide energy for "all Americans?" I mean, we are talking about energy...isn't the availability of energy a basic right, like health care? You would be hard pressed to survive in today's world without using energy in some form or fashion. Are we providing a policy that helps my elderly parents with the cost of their electric or propane bill? What about young single moms who can't get to work because of the cost of gasoline? Are we providing energy vouchers to help them?

8) And what about the cost of health care and energy compared to GDP? This "gross domestic product" argument was one of the strong reasons that lead to passage of the greatest transfer of wealth in American history in the Obamacare bill.

The story was told that health care was making up "too much of GDP."

So, I ask, how much is too much? Have we applied the same argument to energy costs? Just saying.

Conclusion: the health care bill will add costs to most Americans in an economy that is increasingly dependent on foreign energy sources.

So every time you fill up that tank, don't think about how much you are saving on health insurance premiums.

Switch to mid-grade from premium.

That's what most patients will find their choice to be in their new health care insurance.



- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Oil Country, West Texas

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