Monday, September 21, 2009

Bill Maher on tax protest march

Bill Maher had a marginally amusing, if not highly partisan and inaccurate, rant about the people marching on Washington to protest the liberal destruction of the US ideal. Putting aside his swipes and vitriol, he does raise an interesting point: we should find some way to tie the costs of not taking care of one's own health to the cost of getting health care. After all, subsidizing health care doesn't help overall if everyone gets less healthy along the way.

Now, like many liberals, Maher's knee-jerk idiotic reaction is to echo the calls for taxing foods which are bad for people. Sure this might help the immediate problem, but at the unnecessary cost of big government, big regulation, stifling of freedoms, and precedent for more wrong-headed approaches. I would suggest that there's a much better way to tie the amount paid for health care to the magnitude of the care required, based on how you maintain your own health, without all those nasty side-effects.

I propose that we have a system where people pay for health insurance for themselves and their families, where the cost is based on their various health risk factors (eg: lifestyle, habits, etc.) and general health-affecting factors (primarily age). This distributes the cost of random events among many people, while allowing individuals with unhealthy habits and/or higher risk bear a higher proportion of the costs for everyone's care. No nasty big-government intrusions, no big wasteful bureaucracies, more personal accountability for one's health: it seems like a win-win-win. What say you, Bill Maher (as if he reads this blog)?

If only we could get from wherever we are now to that ideal...


  1. Well, I do agree with you about taxing junk food, but how is your proposal different from the existing system? If you're fat, you get a higher premium. If your family has a history of heart disease, you premiums are higher. If you work a high risk job, your premiums are higher. The problem is these premiums increase way faster than wages, so they become increasingly unpayable. As I've said before, if the post office and Fed Ex and co-exist, there is absolutley no reason that model could not be extended to healthcare. With a public option AND opening the borders to get insurance from any state (something I greatly support) more choices mean the prices have to come down, especially when the government can operate a no frills business for pretty cheap. So private insurance companies will make $14 Billion per year instead of $76 Billion. I don't feel bad about that.

  2. Oh, wait... you know what, it is pretty similar to the system we have today. A public option (in addition to squeezing out private insurance, forcing medical institutions out of business, wasting tons of money, and generally being a horrible idea, as has been well documented here and elsewhere) would subsidize and normalize the cost of health insurance for people with any type of lifestyle, completely removing any financial incentive to stay healthy. Per Bill Maher's own argument, this would likely cause America to become even less healthy, defeating the entire meta-level purpose of better health care.

    Leave it to an ultra-foaming-mouth liberal to make one of the most compelling new arguments against socialized medical care I've heard... I guess maybe that's why I found the article interesting enough to blog about.

  3. The demonstrators presumably want to pay for their own healthcare. So it's their right to be as fat they want to be. Maher almost unintentionally parodies his own position. If people pay for their own stuff, there's no need to work out what size serving of pop is acceptable. The problem of what type and qty of food and drugs to allow only appears when the gov't starts to pay for people's expenses.

  4. Let's just end the argument for leftists and rally for paying our own way. That way no one is responsible for anyone else. Maybe then the b#tching will subside and folks will no longer feel persecuted by one another. "Good fences make good neighbors'. "Stay out of my wallet and I'll stay out of yours." Sounds fair to me ;-)