Thursday, October 15, 2009
Government monopolies don’t work well
Medical reform is the hot topic and I’m eager to weigh in. In summary, I think Obama’s plan is completely misguided.
First, let’s assess the problem: Forty-six million people in the country without health insurance. But wait, 9.7 million are illegal aliens; 14 million are already eligible for Medicaid but haven’t taken the time to enroll; 17.6 million have incomes over $50,000 but declined to buy health insurance.
That leaves five million people making under $50,000 that don’t have health insurance. If we pass the Obama plan, the Congressional Budget Office says it will cost at least one hundred billion a year. That’s $20,000 a year to cover each of those five million people. That’s at least five times the cost of existing private insurance.
It’s not that I don’t care. It’s that bad public policy is never a solution to any problem.
Do we need reform? Absolutely. We need to allow true interstate competition so all insurance companies can compete in all states.
Right now, every state has restrictions on which insurance companies do business in their state. The maze of different state laws and regulations stifles true competition. A federal law needs to be passed that allows any insurance company the right to compete in any state.
True competition would drive down prices and increase choices. It wouldn’t cost a dime.
Instead, Obama wants to go in exactly the wrong direction. He wants the government to sell insurance. This would reduce competition. The government makes the rules. No private company could compete with such an unfair advantage. Before long, there would be no competition at all. Just one big government monopoly.
Imagine a football team that had the umpires on their squad. The team could win by manipulating the rules. Imagine what a lousy team they would end up being without having to compete on the merits. That’s the Obama plan.
Government monopolies don’t work very well. The failure of communism proved that. Government bureaucrats sitting in offices can’t make decisions as efficiently as millions of free consumers voting with their dollars.
Obama says you would be allowed to keep your private insurance. Here’s the rub. The private insurance must be “qualified.” Guess who decides this? The government. Soon, the government would start disqualifying private insurance plans unless they added this or that. Private premiums would skyrocket. Businesses would shut down their private plans and soon the government would be a monopoly.
Once the government was in charge, the state-of-the-art American medical system, which has led the world in innovation, would become comatose. Bright people would quit going to medical school. Shortages would result. Lines would form.
Democrats like to say that America spends too much on medical care. We spend that much because we are the richest country in the world. We can afford to spend money on medical care. What better way to spend your money?
Democrats like to say that despite our expensive medical system, Americans are not as healthy as Europeans. Duh. That’s because we are fat lazy smokers and drinkers. It’s not our medical system that’s screwed up. It’s our lifestyle choices.
Democrats like to say a government plan would have less in administrative expenses than private insurance. Well, when you have virtually no oversight or controls to prevent fraud and waste, you can really keep those administrative expenses down.
If the new government plan will be so great, why has Congress exempted themselves from having to join it? Think about that.
There are much better solutions: We could have special laws for medical bankruptcy. We could allow individual premiums to be tax deductible. We could have a national catastrophic illness pool. There are so many good ideas. Socialized medicine is the worst possible reform and it’s un-American.
Remember, the bottom one-third of income earners in America get free health care under Medicaid. Everyone over 65 gets free health care from Medicare. That’s half the people in the country.
Remember, even irresponsible citizens who refuse to buy insurance can still walk into any emergency room and demand treatment. That’s a federal law.
Blaming greed for our medical care problems is like blaming a plane wreck on gravity. Our problem is not greed. It’s too much government involvement through Medicare and Medicaid. The solution is allowing true competition.
Tom Daschle says, “The goal of meaningful health care reform should be to expand coverage, reduce projected costs, improve quality and enhance health-care options for all Americans.”
Nothing but hot air. The law of supply and demand is unmovable. You cannot expand coverage and reduce costs. To promise that insults our intelligence.
Editor’s Note: Wyatt Emmerich is publisher of The Northside Sun in Jackson and president of Emmerich Newspapers Inc.
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