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zombie Medicaid

March 4, 2014

LAtimes: “The zombie walks: Yet another GOP attack on Medicaid” by Michael Hiltzik only has “zombie” in the headline.

“The zombie walks” is an interesting phrase that is very similar to how the Daily News reported Kerry Kennedy’s acquittal. The issue of the way the person walks, as related to zombies is important; Walking Dead but also other zombie walks.

Hiltzik’s article is about Medicaid and has a picture of zombie-eyed Congressman Paul Ryan.

zombie hiltzik

Last October, Hiltzik referred to the chained CPI as a “zombie”.

This time Hiltzik quotes criticism from Austin Frakt and Aaron Carroll:

Does anyone really dispute that having health insurance is better than not having health insurance?… Medicaid isn’t welfare. You don’t get cash. It pays for health care if you need it. And, like all health insurance, it makes people healthier and saves lives.

Wait, it’s the health care that makes them healthier or the health insurance? If we gut health insurance but redesign other parts of the health care system, that might be better right? I mean, it’s at least conceivable, right? Do we really need an insurance model or could we finance health a better way?

For example, what if we outlawed all forms of insurance as a form of illegal gambling and instead provided free government doctors to everyone? But only basic care. No crazy medical technology or long term end of life care or radical chemical treatments – we go back to say 1960 and you only get medicine that existed then but all that medicine is free from the government: break a bone, get appendicitis, all that old school Brady Bunch stuff, no risk of family bankruptcy. Could we finance that and eliminate health insurance? What happens to costs of everything else? And would this be better or worse for the ordinary person?

Or could we have Medicaid or free healthcare for everyone if we eliminated some of the treatment options? Maybe it’s really about the zombie eyes? Would the whole system work better if we just didn’t pay for cataract surgeries? Could we provide basic coverage to everyone if we eliminate some of the plans we currently give to welfare recipients?

Will people die? Of course. Will health care be expensive? Sure. How can we make it cheaper? Nobody knows. But to me, insurance sounds like banking. And I thought big banks were vampire squid. So why would big insurance be any better? As I recall AIG was a big part of the financial crisis. Why is medical insurance any less of a Ponzi scheme problem?

We don’t need cheap health insurance, we need cheap health care.

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