What Health Care Reform Means to Me

Health Care Reform: The most hot-button issue these days! But when we say “Health Care Reform,” what do we mean, exactly?

If you’ve been listening to mainstream media outlets, government officials, Democratic politicians, and even some opponents to the Congress’ proposed Health Care bill, you might think

  1. Health Care Reform = The Administration/Congress’ proposed plan to overhaul the system
  2. Opponents of the Government’s proposed plan are “against Health Care Reform.”

I submit to you that neither of these statements is necessarily true.

Stay with me here…

Let me say something that might shock my friends, liberal and conservative. I am in favor of Health Care Reform!

I repeat: I am in favor of Health Care Reform!! The catch? I do not believe that the Congress’ plan, nor the President’s vision will result in true Heath Care Reform. For me, it’s not about the R and D, it’s about what will work. And if you know me, you know that I lean Libertarian anyway.


I asked my Tweeps this question: What would Health Care Reform mean to you? (Not the Government, but YOU)

Some people’s minds immediately jumped to the proposed plan by the congress/Obama administration, and understandably so! It’s the only plan that is getting any attention.

Ah! My lovely Libertarian-leaning friends. Now before you throw rotten tomatoes, “Libertarian” does not mean we don’t want to help people in need. On the contrary, most of us believe that it is OUR responsibility, not government’s, to help people who truly need it. But we have the free choice. OK, another can of worms; let’s just leave that one closed for now.

Others thought in terms of personal desires for their own health care.

Look at this last batch of answers. They are not sayingthey are for or against a specific plan, but what the result of true healthcare reform would be for THEM. I would venture to say that there is a representative sample of differing political ideologies. I am FOR all these things, too. And I would love to think that the government could take it over and give us all these things. However, I believe that when the government gets involved, it will seize control and never let go. That’s what it does, the nature of the beast. Can you name one entity that the government has stuck it’s hand into that has gotten cheaper? easier? more cost efficient? Less corrupt? Given more choices?

…still waiting… Cash for Clunkers anyone?

OK, let’s say there isn’t one (unless someone really pulls it out in the comments) You might ask, “Well, if you’re NOT for the so-called government option, what are you for?”


I’m so glad you asked! Here are a few things we could do tomorrow, without spending a dime, creating any more bureaucracies.

1. Tort Reform

Let’s stop wasting millions on defensive medicine, malpractice insurance and frivolous lawsuits. Many doctors and nurses I talk to admit to practicing “CYA Medicine.” The malpractice insurance doctors have to pay is exorbitant, all because of the mere possibility that an outrageous verdict could be handed down. One idea is to create a panel of professionals (ie: doctors, insurance, lawyers) to create guidelines for settlements, and enact a “loser pays” system, where the loser of a malpractice suit must pay for all legal expenses. People would be sure they had a case before bringing a suit, that’s for sure.

But alas! Howard Dean, former DNC Chairman discloses the reason it is not there. Bad for the country? Ineffective? Politicians are principly against it? No, he says, “And the reason why tort reform is not in the bill is because the people who wrote it did not want to take on the trial lawyers in addition to everybody else they were taking on, and that is the plain and simple truth. Now, that’s the truth.” (source: CNS News. I looked for a mainstream media article about this, but surpirse: they didn’t cover it. You can see the video at the link.)

If we bring down the cost of malpractice insurance, health care costs will come down, and more doctors will enter and stay in practice! Increase supply of doctors = cost reduction


2. De-link insurance from the employer, open inter-state commerce, and put the purchasing decisions in the hands of the ultimate consumer.

Employers could still contribute money toward a health plan, but the CONSUMER CHOOSES! And they keep their coverage when they change jobs, virtually eliminating the “pre-existing condition” problem. Right now, two groups of executives decide your health care: the employing company, and insurance company. Do they have your best interest at heart? Your employer will just subtract what they spend on your health benefits from your salary, then tell you that your salary is $X.00 PLUS this great health insurance deal. Yeah, and you really got $4500 from your clunker trade-in, too!

Along with this, allow health insurance to be purchased across state lines. Create real competition, and there will always be a company willing to undercut the others for your business. (Think Geico and the car insurance companies, “Here’s how much you can save with Geico”) The self employed won’t be left out on the cold, and can compete on a level playing field when insurance shopping.

THIS is real choice! Not a subsidized “government option.”


3. Give doctors tax breaks for working in free clinics, as if they were donating to charity.

Allow the creation of non-profit (NON government subsidized) community co-ops where people could donate small sums to subsidize those who need help. (Think Kiva.org, except not “loans” but donations) In our electric co-op, we pay an extra $1 a month to help those in need, but there are thousands of people all giving $1. It is our choice to give… and it’s not being run by a corrupt, inefficient government. I would gladly give a few extra dollars a month so someone else can have health care. Would you?

I am also not opposed to a safety net system, such as Medicaid, only let’s clean it up! Seriously, the level of corruption in our government (on both sides) is stunning.


The fact is that I am not heartless or greedy. I do not love insurance companies. I am not rich. (we have planned and worked hard for over 12 years to work toward what we have, and we don’t have much excess) I believe in truly helping people, not making them dependent on a third party.

And before we turn our very livelihoods to an entity that has not proven the ability to effectively run anything, with a trillion dollar price-tag, can we try these options with a price-tag of $0.00, and are virtually guaranteed some level of success?

I know there are a variety of opinions on this subject, and I’d love for you to respectfully comment, agreeing or disagreeing with me. However, if the comments fall into name calling and broad generalizations of certain groups. If it can’t remain civil, I’ll have to close the comments. I reserve the right to moderate comments for any reason, although I’ll try to include them all.

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About Sarah Pinnix

I'm a mom, blogger, vlogger, libertarian. I love Jesus, and my husband, too. Social Media Strategist for a Non-Profit (All statements here are solely my own)


  1. Can you name one entity that the government has stuck it's hand into that has gotten cheaper? easier? more cost efficient? Less corrupt? Given more choices?

    Let's "pretend" that corruption is not something on which government has a monopoly. Let's be honest, profits that private businesses seek corrupts just as easily as the power given by votes. That being said, here's a list…

    Firefighting (gotten cheaper, easier, more efficient, amazingly less corrupt, and given more "choices").

    Trash collection/disposal (gotten cheaper, easier, more efficient, and less corrupt).

    Park construction/management (gotten cheaper, easier, more efficient, less corrupt, and given more choices).

    Mass Transit (gotten cheaper, easier, more efficient, and given more choices)

    Scientific/University Research (gotten cheaper, easier, more efficient, less corrupt, and given more choices)

    Are those too easy? Okay, how about just the Federal Government….

    War/Military (gotten cheaper, easier, more efficient, more corrupt the more private companies become involved, and more choices than ever… all the things it shouldn't be, but hey, you asked).

    Farming (gotten cheaper, easier, more efficient, and more choices for the American farmer at least).

    Personal Retirement Investment – i.e. 401(k)'s, 403(b)'s, etc. (gotten cheaper, easier, arguably more efficient inversely related to your knowledge of investments, less corrupt, and given more choices).

    Interstate Highways (gotten a lot cheaper, a lot easier, a lot more efficient, and given a lot more choices).

    The 40 hour work week (gotten cheaper effort-wise, easier, more efficient, and less corrupt).

    Weather Forecasting (gotten cheaper, easier, more efficient, and given more choices).

    GPS Navigation (gotten cheaper, easier, more efficient, and given more choices).

    Television Broadcasting/Cable/Satellite etc. (gotten cheaper, easier, more efficient, and given more choices)

    Shall I go on?


  2. Christi Glaser says:

    Ah! Very succintly put! Although I'm no expert on the subject, it is clear that malpractice suits are a major contributing factor to the high price of health care. I just don't know the solution.

    I've heard about delinking insurance from employers, but not in as much detail as you just wrote. I think this direction would be much more effective than heading toward a government option. We already have Medicare/Medicaid. Do we really need them to try again with more of our money? In other words, I agree.

    And finally, in response to my post re: fixing social issues that contribute to poor health…The government could do a better job of controlling the influx of drugs into the country, early drop out rates and provide more opportunities for better education, especially in inner cities. These are areas where I'd like them to step it up a little. Providing a government option for free or equally affordable healthcare is like giving us all a "get out of jail free" card. We keep living unhealthy lives while the government pays our doctor bills. It will never work.

    Places like Haiti and Africa have used the Paul Farmer model of providing healthcare successfully for over ten years. Essentially, he treats the unhealthy by addressing poverty and hunger, thereby making the community more healthy as a whole and in need of less healthcare altogether.

    Good health care reform will improve health by empowering people to take care of themselves, not have the government do it for them.

    (That was hard to make clear in 140 characters or less.) πŸ™‚

    Great post!


  3. On a separate note, I find it an interesting juxtaposition that you say the following as an argument for an idea meant to supplant the current health insurance reform being considered, "The malpractice insurance doctors have to pay is exorbitant, all because of the mere possibility that an outrageous verdict could be handed down."

    Allow me to change a few words in your declaration… "The [medical] insurance that [people] have to pay is exorbitant, all because of the mere possibility that an outrageous [bill] could be handed [to them]." Could I not, just as easily, use this as an argument for capping the amount that people can be charged for using any given medical procedure? Instead of calling it an ugly name, like "communism", I'll apply an ambiguous euphemism like….. "nost reform".

    This is a sarcastic suggestion of course, because the more effective argument would be to show how the current climate keeps cost high, and then show how cutting those costs for the supplier will ultimately cut costs to the consumer. You know, with actual real numbers and examples of profit seeking businesses passing cost savings onto consumers.

    But I have little hope for that, since this whole idea is built on a cloud of dreams and rainbows. Your entire conclusion on this particular idea is an economical impossibility.

    You say, "If we bring down the cost of malpractice insurance, health care costs will come down, and more doctors will enter and stay in practice! Increase supply of doctors = cost reduction."

    Your first sentence suggests that the consumers will see the benefit of the lower malpractice insurance costs to the doctors. First I'd like to see how this cost savings gets passed onto the consumer, especially with insurance companies standing in the middle of the whole thing, but that's beside the point. Because in the same breath you suggest in your second sentence that more doctors will be attracted to the practice, which can only happen with a higher economic profit than that which currently exists. But you can't pass the cost savings onto consumers AND have a higher economic profit for doctors.

    The only way that both could happen, is if demand increases significantly when the price drops. But that only happens in markets where demand is elastic. Demand for Health Care, however (anything that comes after preventative care) is EXTREMELY and decidedly inelastic, and would not respond to price fluctuation in a way that would make more doctors want to enter the market in any significant number, especially if price is going down as a direct result of decreasing costs to suppliers because the potential higher profit margin is being eaten up by the lower price for consumers.

    Even if cost savings are not immediately passed onto the consumer, and profit margin actually increases when costs are cut and attracts more doctors, what happens to price? It goes down, theoretically. But what does that actually mean for people who already can't afford these things, even if they have good insurance? It means nothing. Absolutely nothing… because the demand for this service is very unresponsive to price. You can drop the price by $100,000 on a brain surgery and it's not going to make more people need brain surgeries. Health care is not something that is just taking up a significant portion of people's incomes. It's not just a monetary burden that is seeing unprecedented growth, and needs some different encouragement in the market. This is a cost that is bankrupting people, it's bankrupting families, it's bankrupting generations! Indirect, supply side economics is NOT going to fix that.

    It continues to baffle me that the people who propose to offer a different solution to the current health insurance reform NEVER EVER address the inelasticity of demand in the market for health care and insurance. It baffles me to no end.


  4. Real Life Sarah says:

    Christi, you are so right! We need to empower people to make better choices. I'll have to look into the Paul Farmer method.


  5. Real Life Sarah says:

    Chris, you're obviously very passionate about this issue. I could offer an opposite view on most of your points, however, It would take another 5 blog posts.

    Thanks for weighing in!

    One point: Farming? I personally know some small farmers who would disagree with you… Anyway, this post is about healthcare, and I'm just saying let's try these things first before we collectively are forced to spend trillions of dollars.


  6. Jen - Balancing Beauty and Bedlam says:

    I just have to bite my tongue in my Gazillions of responses to Chris, who chooses to have a blogger profile that is not shown, because I just do not have time to get into this. But I do love his passion and I really appreciate the differing sides on this debate, even though he would be hard pressed to give many statistics to his arguments.
    When I look at the responses in the second batch of tweets, it never ceases to amaze me that people haven't taken the time to really dive into even a small portion of the 1000+ pages of the bill. They are listening to the "sound bites" that are being thrown out and believing it hook, link and sinker. How in the world is the health care bill going to allow someone to retire now…? Do they really believe they are going to be able to pick any insurance or keep their own? That's what breaks my heart….if they would actually look into the fine print, they would see these are not going to be options with in one year of this bill being passed. One of my best friend's husbands has MD. They are terrified this bill will pass because she knows they can kiss any chance of his having the best care possible good bye. Do they want some changes? Absolutely. Now they are married to their provider and can't change, but do they want the government determining their future which is shaky anyhow….she was practically in tears about the devastating affect it would have on them, and they have spent HOURS reading in detail the plan.

    But this is the beauty of American. To look at differing sides, not let it polarize us and agree to disagree.


  7. Melissa, Multi-Tasking Mama says:

    As someone who has a chronic illness and exorbitant medical expenses (and I have good medical coverage)I agree with you that some type of health care reform is necessary. My husband and I (despite being very vigilant about being good stewards) have nearly gone bankrupt three times in our marriage due to healthcare expenses.
    My husband can't change jobs because it would be so difficult to get me covered under new insurance due to pre-existing condition clauses and my one MS treatment costs over $3000/month.
    While I do not think the proposed HCR bill would solve all the problems (and there are portions of the 1000 pages that I COMPLETELY disagree with) I for one am thankful that the discussion is finally occuring and progressing. Change can't happen if people aren't willing to bring different options to the table and come to an acceptable compromise (that will hopefully address malpractice coverage, pre-existing conditions and consumer choice).


  8. Real Life Sarah says:

    Yes, melissa, it is so important that we do something, especially about portability of insurance. I don't even think the alternatives I have put forth would have been talked about without this possibility.

    It's also iportant to note that the second batch of tweets don't specify a method to achieve these ends, and are not political statements. They are just desires that we all have for ourselves and our families.


  9. "I just have to bite my tongue in my Gazillions of responses to Chris…. even though he would be hard pressed to give many statistics to his arguments."

    Really, Jen? What statistics are you looking for? Perhaps….

    Microeconomics: principles, problems, and policies By Campbell R. McConnell, Stanley L. Brue, Campbell R. R (published 2004)

    Chapter 23, The Economics of Health Care – page 433, Rising Incomes: The Role of Elasticities….

    "Because health care is a normal good, increases in domestic income have caused increases in the demand (read: ability to pay) for health care. While there is some disagreement as to the exact income elasticity of demand for health care, several studies for industrially advanced countries suggest that the income elasticity coefficient is about 1. This means that per capita health care spending rises approximately in proportion to increases in per capita income. For example, a 3 percent increase in income will generate a 3 percent increase in health care expenditures. There is some evidence that income elasticity may be higher in the United States, perhaps as high as 1.5."

    The notes and emphasis are mine, but hopefully you understand what these statistics mean for our health care. A income elasticity coefficient of 1.5 means that a 3 percent increase in per capita income yields a 4.5 percent increase in health care spending. And do you know what that means for price elasticity….

    "Estimates of the price elasticity of demand for health care implyh that it is quite INELASTIC, with this coefficent being as low as 0.2. This means that the quantity of health care consumed declines relatively little as price increases. For example, a 10 percent increase in price would reduce quantity demanded by only 2 percent. An important consequence is that total health care spending will increase as the price of health care rises."

    I imagine that the first thought running through your head is that this is exactly why we need to lower the costs of health care, auspiciously through the myopic theoreticals posited in the blogger's post. But you must first understand that this inelasticity goes both ways on price. So reducing costs by 10 percent (will the consumers see that amount from tort reform and supply side tax breaks? I don't think so, and history is on my side) ultimately means that we're spending 2 percent less on health care. Can you show me, Jen, how we're going to squeeze enough savings from tort reform and tax breaks to really make a difference with a price elasticity of 0.2?


  10. Real Life Sarah says:

    Chris, I think you maybe should write a post of your own, instead of hijacking mine. I'm deciding on whether to moderate that last comment, which is getting into the antagonistic side. You've stated your point.


  11. "Chris, I think you maybe should write a post of your own, instead of hijacking mine. I'm deciding on whether to moderate that last comment, which is getting into the antagonistic side. You've stated your point."

    As if the unfounded doubt and blatant double-standard expressed in her post is not, in and of itself, antagonistic.

    Moderate as you will, I was really only writing it for you anyway.

    and, so it goes…


  12. Sarah, we might not agree on politics, but i totally agree with your main points. this coming from someone who both works in healthcare and has struggled to provide private insurance for her family when we had planned for us to not work a regular ft job when dh finished his phd. however, it is going to take the govt to initiate this and it is going to cost $. but to me this is $ well spent. i personally feel that it's also going to take the establishment of non-profit insurance companies, be it directly or indirectly thru the govt. I'm not living large either but i'd happily see my taxes increase slightly if it was for this.


  13. careyrowland says:

    1.)I'm proud of you for taking this leap, RealMom.
    2.)Don't be intimidated by Chris. Welcome to the world of real discussion. I don't think he's hijacking you. It's just that he is, as you pointed out, passionate about this issue, and he's obviously done his homework on this one. I find, generally, that the advocates of the public option have done more research on these problems than opponents. But that makes sense; they're the ones presenting the legislation.
    I really believe, RealMom, that tolerating commenters like Chris will boost your readership and sharpen your skills. It's all just electronics shooting through cyberspace anyway.
    3.) I appreciate Melissa's perspective. Truly, it's the great number of cases like hers that bring these issues to the forefront. She writes…"My husband can't change jobs because it would be so difficult to get me covered under new insurance due to pre-existing condition clauses.."
    This demonstrates the widespread problem of portability of coverage. Right next to it is the issue of denial of coverage due to pre-existing conditions, and also termination of policies due to onset of sickness or medical emergency.
    These really are issues that have brought many households to financial ruin, along with all the other economic crashing that's going down.
    4.)So we can see why so many folks are worked up about this issue, and why some like Chris have done so much homework on it, although the elasticity issue is somewhat arcane for use in public discussions. It's more appropriate among students of economics. In that sense, it is kind of a cheap shot.
    5.) As far as the public option goes, it is really nothing more than the Democrats' prescription for initiating some real competition. And although most Dems don't trust Sen Baucus and the Senate Finance committee, I am hoping that his hingepin group will be able to come up with a compromise that the entire country can live with. But you can bet some Dems will raise hell, and some Repubs too for that matter. But hey!, this is the nature of true democracy: you've got to make deals and compromises. No way around it.
    6.)As for tort reform, and CYA medicine, you're absolutely right. Pat and I have talked about this a lot. And don't get her started about the druggies and alcoholics who are milking the system dry, not to mention smokers. Anyway,I have raised the tort reform/malpractice insurance issue myself in other venues. But it is so huge–and it's such a long term can-of-worms–that is somewhat irrelevant to our present predicament.
    7.)If you want to get a true picture of what government health care might look like: ~Ask granny what she thinks of Medicare. ~Ask a poor person's opinion about Medicaid. ~Ask a veteran how well the VA med plan works.
    I think you may be surprised at how many folks actually approve of these programs. That's not to say the government should take all of it over.
    8.) Affluent people in the US will never settle for health care controlled by government. They will supplement their coverage with private plans. I have read that this is what is done by people who can afford such in Britain and Europe.
    9.)Lastly, I feel it is our Christian duty to do something about the 18 million who have no coverage. If the Republicans are unwilling to find government money for that, then maybe they should go their churches and find some good samaritans to bail us out of this mess.
    10.)Great post, Sarah!


  14. I agree! Why would we want to turn our health over to the same people who run the Post Office, Amtrak, and Prisons. Please.

    I agree that we need to help those who cannot help themselves. What I don't want to do is go broke paying for someone who made a ton of bad choices all of their life. Why penalize me?

    I have dental needs that I can't afford right now, but I am actively working to fix that. I don't need the government to help me with one hand and take money from me with the other. I can just as easily save and hand over that money to a doctor myself.

    Crazy, right?


  15. Very nice post. Agree with your ideas.


  16. Wow, someone else with the same ideas as me? I didn't know there was anyone else out there. Me being a pessimist- is real change even possible?


  17. Sarah, thank you so much for this post, and for inviting me to read it! As we've discussed via twitter, you are someone who promotes honest, productive discussion, and it is evident here in your comments as well! Instead of seeing nastiness or all one-sided views, there is a combination of pro and con voices, along with additional comments. Very good! I will have to keep up with your blog more often πŸ™‚


  18. Janice (5 Minutes for Mom) says:

    So interesting reading all these comments and your post Sarah.

    As a Canadian, I am sooooooooooooo grateful for our medical system!!! I know it is not perfect, but I thank God for it every day!

    I just pray that health care REFORM – as in improving and fixing the problems – happens soon for the US. But having said that, I don't know how on earth it will happen. I am not an expert. Just hoping and praying that people that need help get it and that no one else goes bankrupt because they or a family member is ill.


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