'Fix stealth hair? What? I can't hear you'

"The Democrats are the party that says government will make you smarter, taller, richer and remove the crabgrass on your lawn. The Republicans are the party that says government doesn't work and then they get elected and prove it."—P.J. O'Rourke

So, what's your idea on how to fix health care? What's that? I'm sorry, but it's hard to hear anything over the screaming.

As the healthcare debate in this country plays out, some concessions are being made, proposals being tweaked, but there is still an angry mob mentality to a certain faction of the debaters. And is it really a debate if one side won't listen?

Bot tom line for this small employer is that something has to be done about spiraling insurance costs. I'll use our business as an example—we have seen double-digit increases in health insurance premiums for most of the past 10 years. You think that has affected the wages we pay? Yes, it has. Think it has taken much of the profit out of our small business? Right again.

What have the increased premiums got ten us? No more coverage than we had—in fact, only increased deductibles to try and keep rates anywhere near reasonable (which is a relative term, depending on your income). Like a lot of small businesses, we've jumped around to different companies in an effort to save money. But they're essentially all the same and any money saved on premiums is usually gobbled up in a year or two by the new company's increases.

If anyone thinks I'd shed a tear for health insurance companies because they'd have to compete with a public option, think again. Some people seem comfortable being f leeced since it's not the government. That doesn't change the fact we're being fleeced.

One retired friend said he has a hard time even getting health insurance because of past issues. His premium is $1,400 a month, which needless to say, eats up a lot of his pension.

They used to say that your home was the biggest investment you'd ever make. But if you have a family of four and a $100,000 home, I'll bet you're paying a lot more than your mortgage amount each month in health insurance premiums.

What else is wrong with this system? Large employers get an unfair advantage. They get lower rates despite the fact that small business overall employs far more in numbers than big business.

Since the GOP is supposed to be business friendly, why haven't any Congressmen at least fought for us on that last little feature. It's another area where the market place is supposed to work—and I used to think the market place would work out all problems—but it amounts to the fox watching the hen house.

Or why won't they advocate letting us choose from health plans based in other states? More competition usually means more reasonable costs.

I don't mean to rain on my GOP friends' picnic they held recently— there were some good folks there. But what has the GOP proposed to help the average Joe with health insurance costs? How long will double-digit annual increases be okay to those who don't want the government involved?

I have some Christian friends who see it as a moral imperative that we provide health care for the needy, especially children. Having healthy children makes for better learners who will graduate and be productive citizens. That doesn't sound like a Socialist plot to me. Of course, my friends who think this are Democrats, so for some on the far right, that immediately disqualifies their stance.

Something else that could help is continuing to control litigation costs, a part of the reason for the runup. The last obstetrician in Rockdale paid over $50,000 a year to insure herself against lawsuits, and that was 20 years ago.

The answer will probably be a while coming. It's a huge, complex issue with many fingers in the pie and it won't be solved by a catchy slogan. I'm not comfortable with big government, but no one is stepping into the market place to offer an affordable solution.

Those w ith better answers should speak up. But don't shout down. Americans are trying to listen for answers. And angry and unreasonable is no way to solve anything.

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2009-09-10 digital edition

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