October 8, 2008

McCain Watch '08: out of touch

Last night at the debate, McCain talked about his health care plan, explaining to the audience that it would let them shop around! Choose whatever insurance plan they wanted! He sounded like he thought people would appreciate the offer and be happy not to be locked into whatever plan their employer offers.

Which, frankly, is a nutty thing to think.

Buying individual health insurance is a painstaking, unpleasant process in which you are constantly trying to figure out exactly how screwed a particular plan will make you if you have a major health problem - this involves reading legalese in 4-point font - and exactly how restrictive the particular insurance company will be about the doctors you can see and conditions they'll cover. Not to mention that it's absurdly expensive - McCain's $5000 credit does essentially nothing for anyone with a major pre-existing condition. But even if it were free, getting health insurance for yourself sucks. I did it this year, and if it should be easy for anyone, that person is me: I am young, reasonably healthy, don't smoke, and have neither pre-existing conditions nor a family to worry about; I'm also over-educated and good with numbers. It still sucked. I was sure I was getting screwed, and I took a crappier plan than I would ideally like because at least I can afford the premiums.

Anyone who's ever had to deal with their own health insurance knows it sucks, and you're better off getting it through your employer, who by virtue of scale will be able to negotiate a better and less expensive plan (same argument holds for single-payer, not that I'm holding my breath). So when McCain talks about how great it's going to be to be able to find the best health care plan for yourself, all he's saying is he has no damn clue what getting health insurance is like. And he doesn't. He was in the Navy until April 1, 1981, and was elected to Congress in 1982, where he's been ever since. With the exception of one year of his life, he has had government health care immediately available; during that year, he worked for his father-in-law, a hundred-millionaire. Any guesses as to whether he was offered health insurance with that job? His insurance has always been taken care of. So he's trying to encourage the rest of the country to take on a complicated, onerous, confusing responsibility for managing their own health insurance - something he's never done himself, or showed any interest in doing, because it sucks. But he's fine with it sucking for the rest of us.

1 comment:

Narya said...

You don't even need a MAJOR pre-existing condition; a minor (and common) one will screw you just as nicely. This is a particular annoyance of mine (and I don't think Obama's health care plan is any great shakes, either--"kinda sucks" would be my description, actually).

Given that insurance companies are profit-making ventures, they aren't EVER going to want to actually distribute health care/insurance to everyone.