Publius

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Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Great Health-Care Debate Straw Man

The socialist left has set up a massive straw man in the health care debate.

It is, in short:

"Opponents of Obama's health-care (wait, no, health-insurance) plan want to maintain the status-quo."

This of course is a straw man and a great lie. There are clearly problems with the health care system, or more precisely, with the way that costs are growing out of whack.

Nobody says the current setup is ideal. There is legitimate disagreement, however, about whether Yet Another Government Welfare Program is the way to go.

Obama says "we need a government insurance plan to keep the private insurers honest". Even assuming that insurance companies were being dishonest (which is clearly the intention of Obama's phrasing), why not open the insurance field to MORE competition by allowing insurers to operate across state lines? That is one solution to the issue of limited competition in insurance and one which does not require a massive new federal bureaucracy and entitlement program.

Obama switched from demonizing doctors and hospitals, which turned out not to be so popular; and has started demonizing insurance companies. These are the same companies that pay for millions of cancer treatments every year. Yes, those big, bad, evil money-grubbing insurance companies! We must "keep them honest".

The second aspect of this great straw man is, "the private sector has failed to deliver quality health care". Yet there is effectively no such thing as a free market for health care services.

  1. The government controls who can be doctors, and arbitrarily restricts to MD's the right to provide simple treatments.
  2. The government controls fully 20% of all medical spending, through Medicare/Medicaid.
  3. Medicare/Medicaid result in massive cost-shifting by paying only dimes on the dollar of the real costs of those programs. That is the only reason these programs can be considered "successes". The burden is then shifted to private insurance companies, whom hospitals overbill in order to make up their losses from Medicare/Medicaid.
  4. Government strictly regulate what insurance companies can do, who they can cover, how much they can charge. In many states, government forces people to buy coverage for things they don't need and can't use.
  5. Insurance companies are forbidden from operating across state lines, further limiting competition
  6. Virtually all health insurance is delivered through employers, which means individuals typically have no real choice of insurance plan
Yeah, that sure looks like a "free market". What has in fact failed, is the current methodology of layering government intrusion upon government intrusion with no foresight applied further than the next election.

So what the naysayers to the Obama plan want, is not the status quo.
What we want is the elimination government intrusion in health care, and more private-sector competition.

So all you socialists out there, put the straw man away and let's have a serious conversation about this, ok?

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