Many people write or speak to tell us what we should think. Some want to be believed because they are experts, or think they are. Some want to be believed because they claim to speak for us. Some have had revelations. Others want us to trust them because they communicate through prominent media outlets. Many tell us what we should think. I write to encourage my readers to think for themselves. I write to ask you to inquire. Question me. Have fun.

  
Comment of the Day
Less fight more work

Jul 30, 2017

The fight over Obamacare repeal is over, at least for now. The GOP can start to work on a new proposal that each of us can look at it, and then compare how my particular health care solution would play in it, as compared to Obamacare. In a television interview, HHS Secretary Tom Price said that Obamacare “may be working for Washington, it may be working for insurance companies, but it’s not working for patients.” Maybe it is time to consider patients’ involvement in the preparation of an Obamacare alternative? It could be that Obamacare repeal failed just because it has been prepared by Washington with consultation from insurance companies. Let us start with addressing 19 health care issues that politicians avoid talking about.

PREVIOUS COMMENTS
How to pay for the wall?
Apr 04, 2017

If you want to build the wall, pay for it with your own money. How much of your own money are you willing to donate? Trump received 62,979,879 votes. If each of Trump’s supporters voluntarily donates at least $1,000, which corresponds to about $42 per month for the next two years, and if we encourage those who are more affluent to double their donations, then Trump can have on hand about $100 billion, which may suffice for a substantial piece of the wall. Hence, all of you who are talking loudly about spending my money on building this wall, stay away from my wallet, but open your own wallet and send money to the “Build the Wall Fund.” Put your money where your mouth is.

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What is wrong with Russia?
Dec 22, 2015

It appears that Russian leaders cannot free themselves from the medieval concept of regional influence, where weaker neighbors were subdued into becoming serf states. Is anyone capable of explaining to them that in these times of a global economy, any influence comes from economic strength? Russia, thanks to its size, natural resources and well-educated labor force, has everything that it takes to maintain a dominant position in the region, just by maintaining free trade with all its neighbors. It can do so without military interventions in Georgia and in Ukraine. Russia has everything that it takes to be a respected wealthier neighbor, to whom everyone in the region would turn for help when needed. Instead, it is a bully and a hooligan. It would take so little to change that. But it is so hard for Russia to do it. 

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Closed mind for closed borders
Nov 19, 2015

Known to some as a libertarian, Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr. speaks against open borders. His argument is that it is an infraction against private property. He misses the point that most people migrate just because Mr. Rockwell’s neighbors want them on their private property – for picking apples, washing the dishes or writing a computer code. Then, Mr. Rockwell wrongly laments that those foreigners invited by his neighbors violate his private property rights by loitering in the public spaces that he frequents. He wants the government to deny the rights of his neighbors to do on their private property whatever they wish, so he will not need to face immigrants in the public spaces. Mr. Rockwell left the train called “liberty” at the station called “xenophobia.”    

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They do not know…
Sep 14, 2015

Mr. Trump says: “A lot of what I’m doing is by instinct.” I prefer that our President would make decisions based on systematic due diligence. The instinct that guides Mr. Trump in his professional life arrives from his vast experience, starting when he was growing up under the mentoring of his successful father, followed by a solid education and years of practice. Mr. Trump's confidence is misguiding, as it gives his supporters the illusion that someone who mastered real estate dealing can be equally skillful as President. It is similar to the illusion surrounding Dr. Carson, that he can be as good a President as he is a brain surgeon. If both gentlemen were humbler, they would realize that they qualify to be President equally as much as Mr. Trump qualifies to conduct brain surgeries and Dr. Carson to run Mr. Trump’s real estate empire. The problem is not that they do not know many things they should; the problem is that they do not realize that.

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Freedom cannot be legislated, its restriction can
Mar 31, 2015

Indiana voted in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. In his WSJ piece, Gov. Mike Pence claims it was needed to protect the religious freedoms of Hoosiers. Every legislative act by its nature limits someone’s freedom. The only way of increasing freedom is by identifying existing laws that curb personal liberties and then eliminating them.  Hence, if Gov. Pence sees that under some circumstances, the religious freedoms of Hoosiers are not respected, he could correct the situation by eliminating laws causing this problem. We have the Bill of Rights, and it suffices. No “enhancements” are needed.

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Greed-driven health care
Feb 27, 2015

The solution to our health care crisis is in the implementation of more market-driven mechanisms into our health care policy. This is the only way to give patients the freedom to make decisions regarding their care between them and their doctors; not having these decisions made by faceless bureaucrats. The biggest obstacle in implementing a change of this kind is in a deep public conviction that the introduction of the free market into health care will result in doctors, hospitals, the pharmaceutical industry and everybody else involved being guided by their greed, not the best interests of sick people. The biggest challenge in overturning Obamacare is not in Washington. It is in winning the argument with Americans that free-market-driven health care can serve their needs much better than the government-distributed one.

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Will Republicans ever have a viable alternative to the public option?

The House health care overhaul bill passed not because Democrats prepared a good proposal but because Republicans showed amazing inability in presenting a viable alternative.

In particular, young and healthy people tend to not buy health insurance. However, without their contributions any health insurance system cannot work. Democrats address this issue, yet none of the Republican proposals does. Democrats believe that the government, in its wisdom, should command asocial citizens to purchase health insurance and severely punish those that do not obey. Republicans claim that they have alternative proposals of health care reform, but none of them even touch the subject of creating a system in which the majority of the young and healthy would buy health insurance out of their own will.

Health insurance policies, as we have them now, largely cover routine medical care. We pay a high monthly premium so that when, once a year when we see a doctor due to a bad flu, we pay a small co-payment instead of the full charge of around $100 per visit. This is not insurance at all: it is a health maintenance plan, something similar to the extended warranty plans offered for cars, TVs, refrigerators, etc. Most people do not buy these plans, as it is better to put some money aside and spend it when a major repair is needed than to pay for it in advance. Only a small portion of our current health insurance plans are true insurance, in that they cover the high cost of our major health problems. However, these plans last for only one year. If we acquire a chronic illness, at contract renewal it is considered a pre-existing condition. We cannot buy insurance for it; similarly, as we cannot buy insurance for the repair of a roof that is already leaking.

For people buying health insurance as individuals, the currently offered plans offer practically no insurance in the case of serious sickness. About 18% of the uninsured make more than $75,000 per year. They can afford to buy health insurance, but did not do so since they gain little or no advantage from it. Regardless of whether they buy health insurance or not, in the case of a major chronic illness, they quickly would be priced out of the insurance plan, and end up using government-sponsored programs anyway. Staying uninsured is a rational choice.

Individuals acting rationally in their best personal interest cause a malfunction of the current health care system. We can address this problem in two ways. We can use the government apparatus of compulsion to force young and healthy to buy health insurance, which they would not buy otherwise. This is what the Democrats are proposing. On the other hand, we can change the system in such a way that rationally acting, young and healthy consumers would buy health insurance without any compulsion. This is what the Republicans have failed to propose.

What we really need is life-cycle health risk insurance covering only expensive medical care. It should be common, but not mandatory. This could easily be obtained by giving a hefty tax break to people buying this basic insurance. For example, a two or three dollar tax break for each dollar spent, within certain limits.

This health risk insurance, in essence, would be a catastrophic health insurance, but designed to last for the lifespan of a person. It would step in and cover expenses above some predetermined per-year limits, cumulative limits for consecutive years, and cumulative limits over the person’s lifetime. For minor medical care and for preventive care people could pay as they do now. Some would pay out of pocket as needed. Some would sign up for health maintenance plans. Many would use Health Saving Accounts, which gained popularity in recent years, and would perfectly complement health risk insurance. The poor would continue using Medicaid.

Yearly health insurance contracts, as we have them now, are convenient for accountants at health insurance companies. This approach makes no sense for an individual who is interested in health care for the length of his or her life. The real choice we are facing is: should we use the government’s powers of compulsion to force individuals to comply with solutions well suited to health care industry bookkeepers, or should we spur competition within the health industry so they would provide products suiting the needs of the individuals they serve? Are U.S. citizens for the good of the health insurance industry, or is the health insurance industry for the good of U.S. citizens? This is the question for our politicians.

One might notice that the life-cycle health risk insurance, as outlined here, can evolve naturally into market driven health care for seniors, which could eventually compete with Medicare. Democrats want to constrain the rising costs of government run health care programs by even greater government involvement in the health care industry. Although rightfully criticizing this approach, Republicans have failed to produce proposals introducing private industry products competing with Medicare.

Life-cycle health insurance, as presented here, is just one possible market driven solution. Prof. John H. Cochran from the University of Chicago in his op-ed in the Wall Street Journal proposed Health Status Insurance as an umbrella insurance securing lifetime insurability in case of developing pre-existing conditions. Prof. Uwe E. Reinhardt in his Economix Blog mentioned the need of the life cycle health insurance. Without a doubt, one could find more ideas on how market driven solutions could bring affordable health care for most Americans. However, this is not what the Republicans are looking for. Despite the fact that almost every voice opposing the public option is asking for more free market in health care, there is no beef behind it.

One should not be surprised, judging by Republicans’ stance on other issues. In immigration reform, a topic lingering around the corner, many of those same Republicans are for more government involvement in controlling the labor market, a clearly socialistic concept. They decidedly oppose free market driven immigration policy. In their approach to the free market concept, most Republicans are like most Catholics on the official Church doctrine on sexuality: when convenient, they give some lips service to it, but in their hearts, they do not believe in it and do not practice it. Hence, it is very unlikely that Republicans will ever produce any health care reform proposal bringing free market ideas that worked so well, for example, in transforming the telecommunication industry. However, I wish, I am wrong on this prediction.

A version of this text was published by Huffington Post

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About me

I was born in 1951 in Gdansk, Poland.
Since my high school years, I have interest in politics and love for writing. During my college years, I started writing to student papers and soon became freelance author to major Polish political magazines.

In 1980 I wrote a book “Czy w Polsce może być lepiej?” (“Could it be better in Poland?” – this book is available only in Polish) analyzing major problems in Poland at the time and outlining possible solutions.

I was among those Polish political writers who by their writings contributed to the peaceful system transformation that finally took place in 1989. Since 1985, I live in the Chicago area. I went through the hard times typical of many immigrants. Working in service business, I have seen the best and the worst places, I met the poorest and the richest. I have seen and experienced America not known to most of politicians, business people, and other political writers. For eleven years, I ran my own company. Presently, I am an independent consultant.

My political writing comes out of necessity. I write when I see that the prevailing voices on the political arena are misleading or erroneous. Abstract mathematics and control theory (of complex technological processes) strongly influenced my understanding of social phenomena. In the past, my opponents rebuked my mathematical mind as cold, soulless, and inhuman. On a few occasions I was prized for my engineer’s precision and logic.

I have a master’s degree in electronic engineering with a specialization in mathematical machines from Politechnika Gdańska (Technical University of Gdansk).

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