Thursday, September 10, 2009

A long day, and an obligatory health care post...

... even if I have nothing to say about the President's speech, because by now it's been done to death.

But here's how I know--not as a Libertarian but as an American--that the Federal government doesn't actually give a rat's butt about whether I--or Smitty, for that matter--goes broke due to health care bills, and that the so-called reform is all about creating new customers for health insurance companies.

Looking back through the documents assembled for last years' taxes the other day, I recalled exactly why we were glad to see 2008 end. With my wife's back surgery and my son's chronic fatigure and my younger daughter's braces we had over $13,500 in direct out-of-pocket health care expenses.

And we couldn't deduct a penny of it from our taxes.

Given our income [which is information you don't really need] we would have to have spent several thousand dollars more before we could deduct anything, and then we would only be able to deduct whatever amount went over a threshold of 7% of our combined income.

This is the logic of the government: I can deduct virtually all the mortgage interest on not one but two residences, and even line-of-credit interest for money that I borrowed for a vacation to Colorado or a new car as long as it was secured against real estate, but I cannot deduct a penny in medical expenses below 7%.

I can deduct money I spent on child care, but not money I spent to keep those kids from dying.

I can deduct money for adopting a child, but once the tyke gets home I am on my own with any medical bills.

The government recently gave away $3,500-4,500 in instant rebates to buy a car I might not otherwise be able to afford, but if I use that car to drive my children to the Emergency Room, tough shit.

The government will pay part of the freight if I put new insulation or solar panels in my home, but take my son to see a chronic fatigure specialist who is not covered by my insurance and the government turns away.

Don't get me wrong: I have problems will all these social engineering tax code manipulations that are designed to influence our behaviors by transferring other people's money to me--directly or indirectly--if I do certain things that special interests have lobbied the government to support.

But health care? No: the government currently does not tax health insurance premiums paid by my employer, but it also does not take into account that my employer is effectively decreasing my cash compensation when he does so.

Tomorrow the US government could decide to make all out-of-pocket medical expenses either a tax deduction or a tax credit on the Federal level and--to use President Obama's choice of imagery--pull thousands if not millions of Americans back from the brink of medical bankruptcy.

But the Congress has not even discussed the topic. Instead, we are discussing a health insurance reform that provides a new captive consumer base of millions of previously uninsured Americans who will now be forced to purchase their product in exchange for accepting new rules and controls on the 1-2% of their client base that costs them the most.

In other words: it's still about special interests--insurance companies and the pharmaceutical industry--and about providing you with the comforting illusion that the people who run the Federal government actually care about your health and your financial well-being.

1 comment:

Miko said...

Technically, the social engineering programs aren't really even transfering money to you. Mortgage interest, etc. cause people to take out more and larger loans than they would otherwise, so while you see some of the effect on your tax form, the deductions are really just a clever misdirection as the government actually transfers the money to their partners in (primarily) the financial sector.