American Elephants

If We Adopt Obamacare, Where Will the Canadians Go For Their Health Care? Part II. by The Elephant's Child
May 27, 2009, 8:34 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Freedom, Health Care, Socialism

Democrats are determined to pass a health care bill.  The U.S. already spends $2.2 trillion a year on health care, and stuck something like $150 billion more in the stimulus package to turn towards greater government control over health care.  President Obama is quite sure that by giving the government control over health care that we will save vast amounts of money.

One of the hobbyhorses that I haul out of the barn most frequently, is the idea that the Left is interested in their good intentions — their goals— and uninterested in consequences.  The Right cares about consequences, and wants to know how things will work, how expensive it will be, if there are unintended consequences, and if what is proposed is a workable solution.  The Left cares about the next election and making headlines.  The Right tries to explain the consequences, often to people who pay attention only to headlines.

The current push, on the surface,  is to ensure that everyone has health insurance.  In the fine print, it is intended to move everyone into nationalized health care.  Promoted as free health care because the “government pays for it.” Which sounds enticing until you realize that the government has no money of it own.  Government printing presses are churning out money, but we have to pay for every cent.

First of all, there is no one in America who cannot get medical care.  Emergency rooms are required by law to treat everyone.  We are told that there are 45.7 million people without health insurance, but this is a highly inaccurate figure. (A nice way to say it’s a lie) Keith Hennessey, who was the senior economic adviser to President George W. Bush has a dandy clarification of these numbers on his blog.  There are probably closer to only 10 million who are truly uninsured.

Democrats believe that they will save health care money by having everyone insured (insuring 50 million more people would cost another $2.5 to 3 trillion). They will save by getting everyone’s medical records computerized and available online (studies suggest that the technology is not there yet, and savings are mostly illusory).

They plan to control costs.  Doctors are paid too much, hospitals are too expensive, surgery should be cheaper, drugs are too expensive.  They will squeeze.  (Consequence time.  If doctors cannot get paid for all the years of training and hard work, the best and the brightest will do something else. Hospitals will get dirtier, staff will be more poorly paid, expensive machines will be forgone.  Drug companies will innovate less, expensive drugs will not be marketed and those who needed them will go without).  Over 65?  If it’s expensive, forget it.  Old folks are going to die soon anyway.

These are the good intentions.  They will save money and give you wonderful health care.  But do you suppose that members of the government have any intention of participating in this themselves?  Not on your life.  They are very fond of their own health insurance.

America has the best health care in the world.  No exceptions.  Better outcomes, better survival rates.  70% of the insured rate their health insurance as good or excellent.  So it’s really important that we change it all so the federal government is in charge?  Are the American people that stupid? Government is much of the reason for the high cost of health care.  There are problems, but there are also solutions.

A family health insurance plan in New York costs more then $12,000 a year.  A family health insurance plan in Wisconsin costs around $3,000.  What is the difference?  In many states, regulations force people to buy coverage for certain conditions or treatments.  In 11 states, it must cover acupuncture.  In 46 states, it must cover chiropractic service.  Many states demand that no one be refused insurance, and that everyone pays the same price — makes it easy for people to take advantage, waiting until they are really ill before getting insurance.  Regulators feel that if competition is allowed, insurers will grab the healthiest and refuse those with lont-term conditions like heart disease or cancer.  But there could be “Health Status Insurance” that is saved up to pay for the cost of higher insurance in the case of health shocks.  Well before it was required by law, insurance companies started offering “guaranteed renewable” policies.  There has never been an industry, a business or a product that competition has not improved.

Making insurance available nationally, across state lines, tort reform, making insurance policies portable, there are all sorts of  workable ideas for actually reducing costs.  I have written about health care frequently because I have read about nationalized health care in Britain and Canada, and I pray that we do not go down that path.  Here is one of my earliest posts.  And here is Daniel Hannan MEP (Member of the European Parliament) emphasizing why we should not choose to follow England’s example. For others, simply enter “health care” in the search function in the sidebar.  Part I is to be found here.

A free society, if it is to remain free, requires citizens who take the risk of standing up to be counted on the issues of the day. (Walter Wriston)

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