To the Editor:
I was having an otherwise intelligent conversation with one of my more liberal acquaintances the other day when I was blown away by one of his radical statements. He told me how awful it was that medical insurance companies make a huge profit of 15 percent on their insurance and that government could do it cheaper. I could only assume he has been watching altogether too much television and his favorites programs are about space aliens and finding Bigfoot and that Paris Hilton would make a great president.
In his mind, government is just something up there and he knows only that it exists in Washington and assumes federal employees work for free. He doesn’t comprehend that government is made up of human beings that need to be paid and that their unionized salaries are considerably more than any insurance company pays its employees.
The fact is that the VA is going through turmoil with veterans in some areas who wait months to see a doctor and longer to get the benefits they are entitled to and incompetent managers simply get promoted, all of which gives us a good insight into the future of a government-run single-payer medical system. Government workers are unionized civil service and cannot be fired for incompetency. My acquaintance all but seems to live on another planet.
In the world of private medical insurance, employees are held responsible for incompetency and can be fired from their jobs.
That so-called outrageous 15 percent profit is what pays the private insurance company employees, and I’ve seen figures that range from 22 percent to 25 percent for a comparable government employee to do the same job. The efficiency of business is considerably higher than government and government costs, when all the other benefits are taken into consideration, may run as high as 30 percent more.
This all reminds me of when I was a young man, I volunteered to run a therapeutic hobby program for veterans at a mental hospital in Augusta, Ga. The patients had suffered from the effects of combat during World War II. One in particular had had a lobotomy and did some pretty good work on building model airplanes, but he had the strange habit of drifting off into a conversation about government and referred to it as “you know, them, up there” or “those people up there somewhere.” To him, government was a vague idea of the Land of Oz.
Unfortunately, lots of Americans fall into this category and only have a vague notion of what government really is and the reality of the moment escapes them.
If a single-payer system is so great, then why is it collapsing in England and other countries that use it? Somebody has to be paid, and it’s a question of paying more efficient and responsible private insurance company employees or paying less efficient government employees higher wages? That’s all it boils down to. Which do you want?