Why I got political on my personal account

Spoiler: I didn’t get political

Health care is not political. The health care industry and politicians made it a political issue.

Anyone who states that health care is a political issue doesn’t or refuses to understand the history of health care and health insurance in America. They end up arguing about the state of health insurance as if it were birthed with the ACA or the emergence of HMOs. They need to go deeper.

The history of health insurance in America is a complicated one, but two key issues drives the system we have today.

The first is the rise of hospitals in the first part of the 20th century when hospital owners were trying to figure out a way to fill beds at a profit, specifically for births. Most people then had babies at home, assisted by midwives. Hospital owners were looking for a way to disrupt that social norm. They wanted revenue from every birth and weren’t getting it. So, instead of getting smarter about the value they created for their potential customers, they did what every inept industry does; lobbied politicians to make it illegal to birth at home by stoking fear, citing the dangers of at-home childbirth and requiring all newborns to have birth certificates, essentially creating a government-assisted pipeline of revenue into their hospitals. (To be fair, some of their arguments were real, but the primary motivation was to generate profit, not increase public safety.) To pay for the care, health insurance companies were eager to help with cost containment at the low, low price of monthly installments into a risk pool.

The second key event was when the Federal Government froze wages during WWII in an attempt to stem the poaching of skills during a time when workers were needed to staff a dependable supply of goods and services to fuel the war effort. Companies found a way around that by offering health care and other benefits, which the health insurance companies were more than happy to supply at a profit.

This is a gross oversimplification of health insurance history in America, but the point is this; when companies are unable to convince customers to purchase goods and services based on their value, they turn to government to create fear, outlaw noncompliance and funnel dollars into their pockets. The product or service then becomes a requirement to participate in modern life.

To deflect the blame where it really lies — marketing and product development ineptitude by corporations — they make the issue “political.” Politicians, who provides little of value to society as is it, are more than happy to comply as it gives them a reason to draw a paycheck from us. Then, to keep us from discussing these market failures for what they are, they brand them as political.

Oh, we don’t discuss politics or religion around here. Keep the conversation to business issues only.

But the sad irony here is all “political” issues are business issues! Health care is not a political issue. Health care is a life issue.

If you look closely at almost every other business, you will see this pattern, mostly with products and services that are not needed or wanted because a) they never were, b) they are bumping up against incomes that are not keeping pace with shareholder growth expectations or c) they have run their course, but provide too many people who extract too much income from them.

I did not become “political;” the business of health insurance deliberately made health care political. Of this, I promise to remind you of every time you try to shut me up about “being political.”

Buy my “political” book at Amazon. I need the money. Don’t make me lobby my local school district to make this required reading!