June 1, 2008

The Omak-Okanogan Chronicle published a letter to the editor questioning my understanding of the health insurance crisis in the United States, after I had submitted a letter along the lines of my March 28, 2008 blog. The best part of the letter is that he got my name spelled correctly as well as the position I’m running for – it’s all good. I wrote a letter to the editor tonight to assure the Tonasket writer that I do indeed “get it” that many individuals and families cannot afford the premiums for private insurance. Employers who offer coverage as a benefit in lieu of paying higher salaries are also finding it difficult to afford rising premiums.

There are two possible responses when something is expensive – find somebody else to buy it for you or find a cheaper alternative. In the case of health insurance, our Democrat controlled state legislature and elected Insurance Commissioner (also a Democrat) have all but eliminated a competitive health insurance market in the State of Washington. All insurance policies have to include coverage for over 50 mandated conditions or treatments whether the individual wants them or not.

When we rely on government to buy anything for us, we pay for it in higher taxes with less control over what we get for the money. Government has no money that did not first come from you, me and your neighbor next door.

The Tonasket writer stated that the state does offer medical coverage for legislators, implying I would naturally accept such coverage and then he could label me a hypocrite. However, I will refuse to accept this coverage and will continue to purchase my own. After experiencing the freedom of being my own boss for the last 11 years, I am not relinquishing control over my health insurance to the state of Washington.

As an employer, I know how hard it is to select an insurance plan that fits the needs of our staff of 14 and our dependents. Any plan we select will be not quite right for somebody, but at least as a business partner I have a say in the decision. The State of Washington and the federal government cannot design a plan that fits all citizens. Our safety net programs of Medicaid and Medicare serve a good purpose, but cannot carry the entire population. These programs do not pay the full cost of care delivered, and rely on the private market to subsidize their costs. For Medicaid and Medicare to survive, we need a healthy private health insurance market, one that is competitive and allows individuals to choose from multiple plans they can afford.

Hopefully, the country and the state will turn away from the higher taxes and lower patient satisfaction typical with socialized medicine by electing John McCain for president and Dino Rossi for governor this November. Now if we could also elect a new Insurance Commissioner...