In an ideal world every American would have comprehensive health care. In that same ideal world everyone would also have a house, a car, money for vacations, an attractive spouse, well-behaved kids and a local sports team that wins a world championship every year. In this magical fantasy land, everyone would also have white teeth, good hair, a surprisingly accurate jump shot and a chance to meet with the president regularly just to share your opinions.

Here in the real world, we should not be focusing on creating an unattainable utopia. Instead, our president should be focusing on fixing the health care system for those who can actually afford coverage. While it would be wonderful to insure the uninsured, that seems like an absurdly ambitious (and ultimately impossible) goal when we can't even provide decent coverage for those who already pay.

My health insurance, which costs nearly $400 a month just for me (my wife and son have coverage through her company's plan), comes with high deductibles, random denials and an ever-increasing amount of hoops to jump through. Were I to get sick faceless insurance drones would play a significant role in deciding how I get treated, often overruling highly trained doctors.

I base this assumption on the fact for my relatively minor stomach ailment my insurance company has entirely dictated my course of treatment. They had a specific list of which medicines must be tried first -- a list which contradicted what my doctor wanted me to take.

If my insurer interferes for financial reasons over a relatively minor stomach medicine than I cannot imagine what the company might do were I to get a major disease. It seems obvious that before we start extending health coverage to those who cannot actually afford it, we must fix it for those who can.

It plays well to the populist left-wing audience to attempt to pass universal health care. Attacking the more manageable problem of making sure those who already have insurance get treated reasonably does not excite the Democratic base in the same way even though it is the more logical, more readily solvable problem.

President Obama likes to pretend that everyone can have insurance without the vast majority of people already insured paying more. Of course, he intends to tack on extra taxes for the people he consider rich, but us regular middle class folks won't feel a thing and all of our lightly more downtrodden friends will now have full coverage.

Essentially Obama wants everyone to believe that perhaps through the power of his undeniable charisma everyone can be insured and almost nobody will pay more. Unless doctors and hospitals start working for free (which they already essentially do with most Medicare payouts, sadly enough) than the tab for universal coverage will be enormous.

To make matters worse that tab will be paid by people like me who work hard to pay for fairly crummy coverage. It's hard to imagine that adding millions of nonpaying customers to the system will improve my care and, well, though you seem like nice people, at the end of the day, I'm mostly worried about me and mine.

While it would be nice for every American to have health care, we cannot provide it by further burdening those who can actually afford it. President Obama needs to stop playing Robin Hood and start solving real problems.

Fix health care the paying customers first and then see what we can do to make health coverage affordable for more people. That sentence won't win you an election, but it's practical, logical and, most importantly, achievable.



Daniel B. Kline's work appears in over 100 papers weekly. When he is not writing Kline serves as general manager of Time Machine Hobby New England's largest hobby and toy store, www.timemachinehobby.com. He can be reached at dan@notastep.com or you can see his archive at DBKline.com or befriend him at facebook.com/dankline.

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