Democrats’ unrealistic health-care attitude

The PBS News Hour report can be found at here.

Let’s talk telecommunications service and health care “reform” (ha!), despite their apparent differences.

Weeks ago my spouse and I dumped our telecommunications service provider, which shall remain nameless to protect the inept, and switched to AT&T.

The first provider supplied us with OK television (picture acceptable, sound fuzzy), fast Internet service and decent telephonic options that included free long distance.

Separate lightning strikes, however, interrupted Internet service twice. It took hours of (im)patience on the telephone to restore service the first time. The second, the firm couldn’t get it fixed via such guidance so we had to wait three days for a technician.

One phone troubleshooter sounded snippy, saying we could wait hours or until the technician came next Tuesday. Come Tuesday, the techie informed me he couldn’t touch some of my equipment because it wasn’t his firm’s.

I informed him his company wouldn’t let me purchase said equipment from it, seeking instead monthly rental fees ad infinitum, and he was here to fix things rather than tell me his company’s customer-herding policies. Subsequently, we switched to AT&T, from which we could buy instead of rent said equipment.

AT&T, combined with DirectTV, brought us great television picture/sound quality, but telephone service was spotty from the get-go, and after a month or so we lost Internet service.

There is one thing the previous provider and AT&T have in common—long customer telephone waits without problem resolution. You feel frustrated and old as Methuselah.

But with AT&T, after only one day a technician appeared and found the glitches. Problem solved. Angelo, the tech, deserves a rave review. In fact, everyone with AT&T remained civil and customer-oriented.

Now let’s turn to the health care debate and point out there is little that is customer-centric about health-care insurance providers. Neither the Senate nor House legislation is likely to change that, public option included or not.

Liberals go on ad nauseum about their public option providing competition through “a level playing field” (ha! again), but widespread competition and good service aren’t in the cards until all 1,000-plus health insurance firms fight for customers.

Current state-by-state insurance regulation means health insurers in state or regional oligopolies (a few firms wind up with most market share) are tone-deaf regarding customers. They cherry pick to cover the healthy, ignoring the sick.

Why not try the idea advanced by Sen. John McCain of Arizona in his unsuccessful campaign last year for the presidency? End state regulation, create real competition and cut costs. Oh, yeah, I forgot—McCain lost.

By the way, the Netherlands regulates health insurance firms with coverage for all and no public option, as the Lehrer News Hour reported this month. Insurers work with health care providers to curb, or at least contain, costs.

Centralized regulatory oversight usually makes sense to Democrats, who boast they will beef it up for big banks, but health insurance is something else apparently.

The liberals’ public option is a way to get government into the health care business, if successful, but Democrats won’t change the oligopoly problem, and none of their bills actually can curb health care costs significantly.

I say nix the 50-state regulatory patchwork quilt and herd all health care cats into a cost-effective circle, like the Netherlands did. I’m realistic enough to know, however, that I’ll need the health and long life of a Methuselah to see that day.

But right now, it’s showtime. We can monitor this tragicomic health care system saga on TV and Internet, featuring Fastidious Harry Reid, Nicely-Nicely Nancy Pelosi and starring Mr. Ubiquity himself, President Band-aid Barack Obama.