Monday, March 9, 2009

All going down together

And that's not a bad thing.

House prices are coming down because it turned out we couldn't afford them without crazy, back-loaded ARMs.

And because the house prices have taken a dive, so has our equity and, thus, our ability to pay for all the crap we were buying for the past decade...

So, does that mean prices for other things will go down, too? Take health care, for instance.

How did we pay for all that health care, anyway? For some of us lucky bastards, the cost of going to the doctor, having a baby, or simply being a big enough dumbass to kick a toy lawnmower and break a navicular bone, all these costs were passed on to our employers. A co-pay here, a co-pay there but no big deal.

But with the unemployment rate expected to top ten percent before this depression begins the long slow slog back to normalcy, there are going to be a lot more people who simly can't afford a doctor or a pill.

There's a potential domino effect, here, that may drive doctors, hostpitals and pharmaceuticals to the bargaining table as patients (consumers) dry up and decide that they are well enough to get by without a doctor's say so.

Of course that means that more people will wait until they become seriously ill (and seriously costly) before they head to the local emergency room and this will put further pressure on the medical community to strike a deal. It will also push up health insurance costs even further.

Yes, doctors and hospitals may need a bailout, too. Fewer paying customers means less of an offset against those who can't pay which will essentially bankrupt a system that relies on payers to pay for non-payers. The number of payers goes down while the number of non-payers goes up and the stethescope crowd may be begging to get the same treatment the banks are getting, now.

If AIG was too big to fail then, certainly, hospitals, medical professionals and drug companies are too valuable to fail. They might even be willing to allow the government to take an ownership stake in Pfiser or Massachusetts General. Consider that!

Remember sixteen years ago when Hillary snapped on the rubber gloves and tried to push a little socialism on the medical community? What a fiasco. Old folks were clutching their hearts because they thought they wouldn't be able to choose their doctors and Limplog and the rest of the Radio Flyers had everyone whipped into such a frenzy of fear that we somehow decided that the system we had actually worked!

Well, this depression might just put that system in the ICU.


Too many goddamn metaphors here.

If it's done quietly, nobody will notice and health care will become a ward of the state.

Surprise! Health care is alive but the government is helping it breathe, eat and, oh, yeah, that's a government catheter, too.

You want to complain? Too late, it's a done deal or would you rather the medical community went belly up? We could pull the plug.

And maybe then we will become like all the other civilized countries and be able to provide good health care for all our citizens.


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