This is not a political site. This is an anti-political site. Our purpose is to advance civil society and the freedom philosophy and perhaps have a little fun while we're at it.

6/16/09

Cruising in perilous seas aboard the USS Healthcare




What should be the debate of our lifetimes has been on the horizon for a long while but has now come to within cannon range of the ship of state.
I say it should be the debate of our lifetimes, but now I’m not so sure it’s going to happen at all, much less be a vigorous exchange of well informed and rational ideas. The result may be a disaster of Titanic proportions.

Before I begin to explain my solution to the problem with healthcare in America, let’s try to identify exactly what the problem is and why it became a problem. Only then can we gain insights into what the system has become and what is being proposed to “fix” the system.

Despite political wailing to the contrary, it’s clear to anyone who does thoughtful analysis of (and comparisons to) healthcare in the rest of the world, that in this country we enjoy a very high level of care, a very high level of access, and a very high level of innovation. Indeed, people flock to these shores to receive the treatments they cannot get in their own countries in time to make a difference. It is especially true of countries who have already begun their own experiments in government provided “care”. Canada’s debacle is evident and would already be over if it’s citizens were forbidden to seek care in this country. We have provided the “steam control” valve for that boiler.

Which leaves the one problem that almost everyone agrees we need to solve. The dilemma is, we desire more care than we wish to pay for ourselves. The cost is “too” high. We would rather spend our money on other things. So this is the one true problem to which we all seek remedy.

The reason the price is high is the same as it is with every other commodity or service that has ever existed. Namely, the demand exceeds the supply at the price we wish to pay. If it sounds like I have chosen to relay something that is so obvious it is almost insulting to anyone reading it, please consider that most of the people who have selected the current crop of “fixers” are deeply in denial about that fundamental truth. They have been told the price is dear because of inefficiencies, greedy providers and the like, and sadly, they choose to believe those things, rather than the simple truth.

The excess demand for health care has been created by government policies. Some old policies, and some not so old. And if you think there is excess demand now, and therefore high prices because of those old and not so old policies, just wait until you get a bead on the new policies being readied for you and the even higher prices that come with them.

When government interfered with healthcare prices by allowing employers to compensate their employees with tax free health insurance, it caused a huge surge in demand for the services. The cost rose in response. That was one of the old policies I referred to.
Then, when government decided to take money from some people and give it to others to whom it did not belong in the form of Medicare and prescription drug benefits, understandably, demand went up some more and the cost rose some more.
When state governments decided that in order to get votes (power) they would vilify insurance companies for not writing policies that included coverage for almost everything that anyone wanted, (and could possibly be related to health in one way or another) demand went up and the cost went up some more.

These states were actually able to get the insurance companies themselves to agree with them in exchange for protection from competition and the huge profits to be made by charging for these spurious add-ons which enjoyed no great demand on their own. In other words, they cut a deal which we weren't in on.
The result of all these policies was the rapid and predictable rise in the cost of health insurance.

So, those are the main reasons for the cost being “too high”. The other factors most often mentioned (by advocates for government provided insurance) are quite small by comparison.
I can assure you that more government interference, which is the cause of the problem, will not be the cure for the problem. That would be the textbook definition of insanity.

As for the USS Healthcare, the course (government insurance) and speed (full steam ahead, just like the TARP bailouts and “stimulus” law) have been set by Captain Obama. But the icebergs are still there and the result will be dead people, just like the Titanic of old.
These dead people won’t be as easy to see as the bodies floating in the Atlantic in April of 1912. These people will be the unseen dead, the multitudes who die because they cannot get the tests or treatments they need, in time, or at all, in many cases. Many more will die from not taking the medications that will never be invented because of government run healthcare. Most people will never make the connection between the flotilla of corpses and the ship of fools.

I propose a different speed and direction for the liner, a carefully plotted course along a well traveled, proven route. The destination is an island, an imaginary Isle of Freedom. A place without busy-body armed thugs forcing people into a system where they have to pay for everything they don’t want, but do not receive the services they desperately need.
It would be a place where two or more private citizens could make arrangements among themselves to insure for the services they want, not those that have been mandated by politicians. America used to be such a Isle.

If a person living there wants to buy a high deductible, major medical policy to cover only “in hospital” care for catastrophic health issues such as accident or disease with no coverage for anything else and a company offers it at a price the person agrees to, he/she could purchase it without interference from government or anyone else. If you didn’t desire coverage for marriage counseling, obesity, insanity, substance abuse, skydiving accidents, maternity benefits, anger management or anything else, you wouldn’t be forced to pay for it.
If you desired coverage for all or any of those things, you would be free to arrange to have it provided at a price acceptable to both parties.

Ship's Captain Obama wants to form a newly created government company to provide “competition” for private companies. It’s nonsense of course. The result will be the end of private insurance. No one can compete with a company that has unlimited funds and no profit motive. And the people who profess to be “pro choice” on some medical questions are decidedly anti-choice when it comes to health insurance.

The cost of this insane legislation is estimated to be one TRILLION over the next decade. Keep in mind, the government has never overestimated the cost of any program it has implemented. A better bet is that it would be double that. We will never know except in retrospect.

Additionally, such a function of the federal government is not found as a listed power in the US Constitution and therefore is unconstitutional. (refer to the tenth amendment) Not that anyone on the healthcare ship gives a hoot about the Constitution. But that's a different topic.

It is not enough to oppose these dangerous and costly programs, one must be willing to propose alternate solutions, so now I’ll propose some things that the federal government can do about this “crisis”, something that is constitutional, and which I believe will immediately make things better. Things which, unlike vast new government programs and mandatory bureaucratic rules, can easily be undone if they prove ineffective. Things which expand choice and freedom and require no force to be used in their implementation. In other words, the American way as we have always understood it until recent times.

One of the few enumerated powers of the federal government is to regulate commerce between the states to be sure that goods and services flow freely. I believe that the congress should pass a law to override the anti-freedom laws of many states concerning health insurance. Those which mandate certain coverage and forbid competition by out of state companies. This is certainly an inter-state commerce question as envisioned by the founders.

I also believe that the tax policy of allowing deductions for providing health insurance to employees should be extended to the people themselves. Anyone who provides health insurance to anyone, including themselves, should be allowed to deduct that cost from their taxes. Further, all health expenditures should be deductible to whomever provides them. And lastly, any healthcare benefits received by anyone should be tax free to the recipient. The cost of this “government program” to this country? Zero.

And no, less tax revenue to the federal government is not a cost, despite what is taught at some goofy left wing schools.

These are the freedom/free-market solutions to our high costs. And they will work wonders if ever given a chance. More people with the health insurance they truly want, at a price set by the market, not some group of elitist health Czars. More people insured at lower prices. That is the goal, right?
And better treatments and medications being developed using the money that is saved by not being diverted to the “cause of the day” coverage.

However, I am not the Captain or even a crew member, so my suggestions will never be addressed on the bridge of this ship. As a passenger, I will probably go down with the ship though, with the Captain and crew floating away in the lifeboats afforded to the elite rulers in congress and the White House. They always make provisions to exempt themselves from the “cures” they impose on the rest of us. They have their own health plans and retirement plans quite apart from social security and other boondoggles.
Meanwhile, my children and grandchildren will be adrift along with yours.

Unfortunately, the supporters of this course will not drown at a different rate than those of us who spotted the icebergs. In death we all will finally be equal, because the destination this crew has set sail for, is the Isle of Equal Misery.

1 comment:

Brian Jennings said...

Could not agree with you more Mr. Davies.