Schiff polling in CT

Investor Peter Schiff has hired well-known Republican polling firm Wilson Research Strategies to gauge support for a potential Senate run according to a piece in CQ today.

“Peter is a non-traditional candidate,” said Andrew Schiff of his brother, an outspoken libertarian who has gained attention for correctly predicting the collapse of the mortgage industry despite mockery from other industry analysis. “We’re attracting a lot of very fervent believers.The question is whether or not this will all resonate with the voters of Connecticut.”…
“We do think there’s certainly room for the fiscally conservative, libertarian wing of the party to attract a lot of attention in the Northeast,” Andrew said, adding that Peter is prepared to develop a policy portfolio not just on finance and monetary policy, his specialty, but also on hot-button issue like health care and energy. But economics will remain is major focus…We’re leaning towards a run,” he said, however, “Peter doesn’t want to spend a lot of time and money if there’s really no chance.”

I think it’ll be interesting to see how voters react when they really start listening to some of the things Schiff has to say. Like his comparing health insurance to “plumbing insurance”.

The bottom line is that aggregate medical costs will never come down unless services are rationed more wisely. Rather than being used as a pre-payment plan for routine care, insurance should only cover unpredictable, catastrophic costs.
As a comparison, homeowners often carry fire insurance, but seldom maintenance insurance. You buy fire insurance to guard against a catastrophic loss, which is a low probability but high cost event. As a result, fire insurance is relatively affordable, since premiums paid by all those homeowners whose houses do not burn down more than pay for the losses on those few whose houses do.
On the other hand, no one carries home maintenance insurance to pay for a clogged drain or broken garage door. If insurance paid for the plumber visit every time a toilet overflowed, we would now have a plumbing crisis, and Congress would be looking to reign in runaway plumbing bills with “national plumbing insurance.”

I know some of my critics like to say I’m full of shit, but personally I prefer to think of my body as a temple, rather than a blocked toilet. And to me, there’s a pretty important difference between good preventative health care which can SAVE LIVES and plumbing. But maybe that’s why I’m a liberal.

“If left alone, the free market drives quality up and costs down,” Schiff writes. Yeah yeah. We all know the theory. But I also know what’s happening in practice with the private insurance companies, with whom I’ve personally had horrendous experiences. And if you think they are in it for quality of care, read this testimony from a former health insurance industry insider.

It’ll be interesting to see the poll results.

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9 responses to “Schiff polling in CT

  1. I think the theory with free market healthcare doesn’t necessarily include health insurance companies. It’s more along the lines of relying on the local civic groups (in which one is a member) for financial support in times of need. For example – Masons, Elks, church, etc. It’s really much more dramatic than what you seem to be envisioning.

    Remember though Sara… Chris Dodd could fund healthcare very easily if he would simply pass legislation to retrieve the $2.2 Trillion printed by Bernanke and given to his Wall Street cronies. But then according to the Bush / Obama economic dream team of Bernanke & Geithner… civilization would end as we know it!

    Back to free market healthcare… alternatively, with our deficit spending continuing indefinitely… we may see the dollar collapse and then get to experience the value of all our beloved government services.

    (Note: I’m not advocating one way or another. I just know that I want to see real debate on the issues – healthcare, monetary policy, war policy… not this BS that we got last October when the Bush / Obama economic team sold us a bill of goods and Pelosi / Reid / Boehner / McConnell rolled over to get their bellies rubbed.)

    Whoops… I mentioned war policy. I forgot. Now with a Dem Congress and POTUS… the war is over! It’s been defunded!

  2. I know some of my critics like to say I’m full of shit, but personally I prefer to think of my body as a temple, rather than a blocked toilet. And to me, there’s a pretty important difference between good preventative health care which can SAVE LIVES and plumbing. But maybe that’s why I’m a liberal.

    Sara, I liked your humor so much that I not even going to disagree with what you said! Thanks for putting a smile on my face. 🙂

  3. Sara, I liked your humor so much that I not even going to disagree with what you said! Thanks for putting a smile on my face. 🙂

    Aha! So *that’s* the secret! I’m going to be a laugh a minute from now on… 🙂

  4. I read somewhere that it was Rowland’s trick for keeping the press at bay.

    As soon as they asked a “tough” question, he offered a one-liner. Everyone laughed and he said “next question, please.”

  5. Aha! So *that’s* the secret! I’m going to be a laugh a minute from now on…

    Sarah, now you know the secret on how to make me not argue. Please, let’s just keep this between me and you. 🙂

  6. Sara, I think there are a few issues here.

    Issue #1: The Skyrocketing cost of health care has everything to do with third-party payment plans— both government sponsored and private insurance. Doctors have used the existence of third-party payment plans: insurance plans, health benefit plans, government sponsored insurance plans to charge rates that the free market could never sustain. In many ways, it is in parallel to what credit did to the cost of housing and consumer goods. Two years ago, VERY FEW people could buy a $3K big screen TV without putting it on the credit card. Ditto with homes and cars… almost everybody who bought $40,000 SUVs bought them on credit. If everyone paid out of pocket for routine medical expenses, doctors would have to charge $40-60, instead of the $100-120 that they currently can charge. Mind you, they would greatly save on administrative expenses… e.g. insurance billing.

    I would prefer to see insurance products reserved for catastrophic expenses, and see routine expenses funded out of pocket. If necessary, provide a tax credit to the needy to help fund out of pocket expenses.

    The problem is that health insurance is that comprehensive health insurance plans have become a form of prepaid healthcare plus catastrophic insurance.

  7. I would prefer to see insurance products reserved for catastrophic expenses, and see routine expenses funded out of pocket. If necessary, provide a tax credit to the needy to help fund out of pocket expenses.

    So let me try to understand how this works under your scenario. Five years ago, my daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, which necessitates HUGE costs in terms of NECESSARY diagnostic tests (quarterly HBA1C) at least annual tests for kidney function, retina screening, lipid panel (v.important, even at her young age because diabetics need to keep LDL even lower than general population) not to mention the monthly consumable costs of her supplies (glucose test strips, insulin pump supplies) and the insulin pump itself, which is replaced every four years and even WITH insurance I still had to pay over $2,500 copay for. How much of that am I paying out of pocket under your scenario and how much is considered “catastrophic”?

    What about my son with Aspergers, and the expense of OT and therapy? Is that “catastrophic” in your eyes. Let me tell you, if you ask a parent of a child on the spectrum, who already pays a lot of this stuff out of pocket because only a certain number of visits per year are covered, the consequences of NOT doing it can be extremely catastrophic in terms of quality of the child’s life and his ability to be a productive citizen in the future.

    I also think it’s wrong to compare purchasing healthcare to widescreen TV’s and cars. There is a much greater cost to human life in not doing preventative health care and than there is in not having a flat screen – at least in my book.

  8. primusinterpares

    I also think it’s wrong to compare purchasing healthcare to widescreen TV’s and cars. There is a much greater cost to human life in not doing preventative health care and than there is in not having a flat screen – at least in my book.

    There are a few other problems with your logic. Why do you say private industry does not incentivize preventative care? If your theory is (which it seems to be) that universal healthcare would be cheaper than paying for healthcare + insurance then wouldn’t it make sense to say that preventing yourself from getting sick would save you more money and therefore the incentive be greater under private insurance? Essentially, why should I eat healthy and work out when the government will just pay for me to get a new heart at 60?

    I pay for my own healthcare and insurance. I pay less than $60 a month. I have to pay full price for doctor visits and prescription drugs. Doctor visits cost about $50-75 and antibiotics cost $20ish. In the event of something catastrophic my max out of pocket cost per year is $2000.00. So on average, if I go to the doctor 3 times a year and get a prescription each time it costs me $285 plus around $700 a year for my plan. $985.00 a year. Then if I open a health savings account I can save my money tax-free to pay for that improbable $2000.00 event.

    Now, I realize that having chronic conditions drives the cost of care up, and I don’t have a problem with subsidizing a portion of that cost through my insurance premium since I would want the same for myself. However, I do not think the ENTIRE cost of your sickness should be subsidized by my premium as some people believe it should.

  9. So let me try to understand how this works under your scenario. Five years ago, my daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, which necessitates HUGE costs in terms of NECESSARY diagnostic tests (quarterly HBA1C) at least annual tests for kidney function, retina screening, lipid panel (v.important, even at her young age because diabetics need to keep LDL even lower than general population) not to mention the monthly consumable costs of her supplies (glucose test strips, insulin pump supplies) and the insulin pump itself, which is replaced every four years and even WITH insurance I still had to pay over $2,500 copay for. How much of that am I paying out of pocket under your scenario and how much is considered “catastrophic”?

    Generally, catastrophic expenses would be “extraordinary” expenses that would cannot plan and budget for on a monthly basis.

    My point, which you are missing, is that without the existence of private payer systems, you would pay a fraction of the cost currently paid for the products and services described.

    You are conflating the definition of “insurance” with that of a “health plan” or “health benefits”. Insurance, by nature is a full risk product designed to cover highly unexpected / catastrophic expenses. Health plans / health benefits generally cover a certain amount of pre-paid healthcare. Because people are almost guaranteed to avail themselves of a certain average amount of this pre-paid healthcare, premiums must also include that cost. So, if the average family of 4 has $12,000 a year in healthcare expenses, that expense must be built into the premium rate.

    From a financial perspective, people are better off paying for and budgeting for routine cost on the back end, instead of paying for them on the front end, in the form of high premiums.

    The part of this story that no one wants to mention is the sad relationship that between health outcomes and personal behaviors. 70% of chronic conditions / negative health outcomes can be tied directly back to personal behaviors: smoking, drug abuse, promiscuity, and bad diet. With the exception of smoking, there is no market mechanism to charge more to people who engage in these behaviors.

    More to the point, why should those of us who already have expensive health conditions subsidize the treatment and care of your children, when we can barely afford to fund our own care? A government health plan is not going to solve the key problem vexing health care at the moment: astronomically inflated prices that a true market environment would never tolerate and force down.

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