Column: Future looks bleak with healthcare reform

Now that the euphoria - or nausea, depending on your point of view - has hopefully eased, why not turn our attention to what we think healthcare in the U.S. is going to look like down the road.

Hang on to this column, all you supporters of making a "right" out of something that negatively impacts someone else, because you're going to want to beat me over the head with it in a few years after I'm proven to be wrong on everything.

By now I'm sure all of you are eagerly awaiting word from your health insurer about how much your costs are going to tumble, one of many promises that, quite frankly, I thought was an outright lie. So I'll go out on a limb here and say I don't think the individual policy my bride has is going to get cheaper anytime soon.

Nor do I believe the benefit offered me by the Miner will be any less expensive. Management around here is pretty good about letting us know about such stuff.

As for cutting into the federal deficit, which has been on steroids since who knows when - yep, I think that's bull, too. It's not going to cut into the deficit by $200 billion or whatever has been promised in the relative near term, nor will it cut into the deficit by trillions in the long term.

But I do get extra credit for not saying we've been lied to by you-know-who.

In fact - and this has been pointed out a lot of places - I believe the measure that was just passed won't cost just less than $1 trillion the next 10 years, but will indeed cost about $2.5 trillion.

Some healthcare skeptics are even going out on a limb and saying it won't be long until talk about a national sales tax really takes hold in Congress to help pay for all this free medical care. And if it passes, I'll predict it will be tacked onto the price on the shelf so people aren't caught 20 percent short of funds at the checkout stand.

Plus, after a while government will be counting on us to forget how inexpensive a lot of stuff used to be.

This is particularly discouraging because many of the taxes associated with reform will kick in fairly quickly, while few of the benefits won't start until 2014. Kinda makes you wonder what the big hurry was, huh?

As for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's announcement that healthcare reform was also a jobs bill, I think she's right. Thousands of jobs will be created, and they'll all be on government payrolls. As for the private sector, I think the billions to be collected from new taxes will be a job killer. I think some businesses won't be able to cope with that new burden.

On down the road, I'll say medical innovation will suffer in terms of both technique and new drugs, as will the quality of doctors. Hospitals will be referred to as "filthy" and the shortage of nurses will be more pronounced. Locally, the number of doctors as a percentage of the population will decrease.

Some local residents will complain to the media about waiting to see a specialist - even longer than they wait now - or being denied coverage for one reason or another. When they do, reporters who follow up will meet a wall of silence from the bureaucracy, which will cite patient privacy rights. Face it, you can't turn to the government when you're getting screwed when it's the government holding the screwdriver.

Getting away from predictions, did anyone notice all this celebrating about healthcare joining Social Security and Medicare as huge successes for the Democrats also think that both of those are hugely insolvent? Not too worry, according to one local blogger who says we can simply keep taking more and more from the productive class - they won't mind.

Finally, in 20 years when we're used to higher taxes, smaller homes, smaller cars, a weaker military, many of us will agree that, yes, medical care used to be a whole lot better. But then we'll just shrug it off. Yes, we'll say, it's bad, but I just can't imagine life without it.