Universal Health – Less Simple Than It Seems

What are we going to do when employees of companies with good benefits packages begin to retire in droves, because they no longer need the one thing that kept them working – insurance

With a presidential election looming, there’s lots of talk from the candidates about universal health care. Actually, that’s the name if you’re for it. If you want to frame it as a negative, it’s socialized medicine… government mandated socialized medicine.

As Helaine and I talk more and more about what we’ll do after retirement, we realize some sort of health insurance is necessary. Right now, self financed health care for older Americans is ridiculously expensive, if you can get it at all.

We’re banking on universal care.

However, there are unintended consequences in universal health care – some good and some bad.

How will we keep our medical facilities from being inundated, if treatment is free? Should there be a limit on end-of-life care which prolongs life with little life quality? If so, who makes that decision?

What are we going to do when employees of companies with good benefits packages begin to retire in droves, because they no longer need the one thing that kept them working – insurance?

Some people have speculated about a huge wave of retirements at the US auto makers. There are other large institutional employers which will be hit the same way.

In some ways, this is a good thing. The allure of entrepreneurship will increase if a start-up comes fully equipped with insurance. Businesses, like that run by my sister and brother-in-law, might decide to go where the weather is better, if they would remain insured.

Universal health care as an abstract concept sounds pretty good. The devil is in the details.

Too Much Democracy

I read a lot of tech news online. It’s pretty tough to find a technical subject I don’t want to delve into.

Finding these articles can be tough, so like many people I harness the power of the Internet by going to ‘aggregator’ sites. These sites don’t usually produce content on their own. Instead, they link to other sites where the articles are kept.

Originally, my favorite was Slashdot. There were times I’d go there a half dozen or more times a day.

The way Slashdot works is, people suggest stories, editors check them out, they get posted. When first discovered, I liked Slashdot a lot.

Over time it got too slow for me. I’m not talking about how long it took for a page to load. It wasn’t pushing enough links my way.

Next came Digg, a San Francisco start-up headed by Kevin Rose, formerly of TechTV. This site also takes suggestions from readers. Instead of having editors pass judgement, Digg encourages their readers to digg a story (or not). Get a lot of digs and your story hits the front page and gets read by lots of people.

The more I liked Digg, the less time I spent on Slashdot.

Then came Reddit. Like Digg, this site’s content is juried by its readers. What I liked was, more stories made the front page and the lineup was volatile from hour-to-hour. There was lots for me to read.

The more I liked Reddit, the less time I spent on Digg. Even worse (for them), Slashdot was falling off my radar.

Now there’s a problem. A small community, like Digg or Reddit, can easily be overrun by single issue zealots. For Reddit especially, that means supporters of Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich.

Stop – I’m not criticizing either of these candidates. What I’m concerned about is how their supporters have hijacked these sites to get their points across. I want to read tech, not hear about who feels short changed and why.

Having no editor should lead to a democratically juried site. Instead, it’s leading to anarchy.

At the moment, I still read all three. Their order of importance in my life is currently Digg, Reddit, Slashdot… but Reddit is getting very close to dropping to number three.