The solution to the spiraling costs of healthcare is free market efficiency, not beaurocratic Obama-care. The current healthcare proposals are sweet deals for everyone except tax-paying Americans.
The reality is that what the White House, President Obama, and the proponents of this healthcare reform are telling us, doesn't make sense. Obamacare is not consistent with common sense and basic economics, because you cannot "legislate" efficieny into the market, at least not in the way that they are trying to accomplish it.
First, we need to understand that universal healthcare and socialized medicine are not necessarily the same thing. We can have universal coverage that is not socialized. For example, the government could just give everyone in the country a big chunk of money toward buying private healthcare. Likewise, socialized medicine does not have to be universal either. Medicare and Medicaid, are government run socialized medicine, but because only certain people are eligible, they are not universal.
What the Democrats are trying to do is regulate the healthcare industry, give universal coverage to everyone, and provide a government run "public option". Regarding the public option, the devil is in the details. If the public option is not funded by tax payer money, and truly has to compete on its own merits, then what we would have is really not that different from what we have now. We would have a blend of heavily regulated private and socialized medicine that is a sweet deal for the insurance companies, the medical industry, and basically everyone except tax-paying Americans.
America is a very productive country, as reflected in our world leading GDP. It is because of our productivity, that we are also the wealthiest nation in the world. Above everything else, the main reason for this is free markets. Free markets create competition, which drive innovation and efficiency, as opposed to corruption and croniism.
I look at the fact that I can walk into a grocery store, and by pasta, and hamburger, and rice, and cereal, and eat for a week for thirty dollars. I like the fact, that for around thirteen thousand dollars, I can buy a new car that gets great gas mileage, is safe, and won't disintegrate at fifty thousand miles. Obviously, I can't drive a Mercedes for that price, but I'm fine with that. Per hour of work, we get alot more for our money, because of the efficiency, innovation, and productivity of free markets. Sure, corporations love to convince us that we need things we really don't, or trap us into usury, but that's part of being free; we have the responsiblity of making decisions, and then reaping the consequences.
Free markets give us more for less. They replace corrupt and incompetent businesses with efficient and innovative ones. They give us as consumers the power of choice, and a way to make industry and business serve us better. Overall, we see that in all areas of our lives, free markets result in better quality, better prices, and more for our money.
Now a person with common sense will say, "if free markets serve us well in other areas, why not healthcare?". The reality is that the people that are leading this country now probably don't understand, or believe in free markets. They've chosen to substitute reality with cheap emotionalism and wishful thinking. They think they can legislate efficiency, sprinkle on some hope and change, and the cost of healthcare will magically drop. Well, we know it won't. Medicare and medicaid keep rising, and will continue to rise. You can't just give everyone free health care, and not deal with the reality that costs are rising, and someone's going to have to pay for it all.
That's the problem, we already have semi-socialized medicine. The system is broken because the free market is not working. People have lost touch with the reality that every pill or service they need has to get paid for by someone somewhere. Without free markets the medical industry has a blank check to charge people whatever they want. Drug companies and insurance companies make enormous profits. We have a situation where the sensitive and essential nature of healthcare has been allowed to drive free markets and competition out of the system. The result is spiraling costs, and two options. We can either pay the rising costs, or ration the care that can be afforded.
This is why what is being proposed is a sweet deal for everyone involved, except taxpayers. The insurance companies know that this unfunded public option, at least at this point, is not a threat to them. They know that rank politics and gross inefficiency will set the bar so low that they will be able to run circles around it, just like UPS and Fed-ex run circles around the post office. It won't be long before all the players involved have figured out how to exploit the situation in order to raise their profits, and not through efficiency, but at taxpayer expense.
What the insurance companies really fear is having to compete with eachother. Breaking up the insurance monopoly, and opening up national markets would be a great start to reducing costs, but for some reason it was left out of the legislation. What a surprise. Also, tort reform is badly needed. The exorbitant sums paid in malpractice suits don't really hurt the ones responsible, and just raise the costs of care. If the doctor is that incompetent and negligent then take away their license, or even put them in jail. Curiously, tort reform has also been left out of this bill. I wonder if the trial lawyers had anything to do with that? So it seems like everything that they should be doing to reduce the costs, has been taken off the table.
One of the difficulties with healthcare reform is that inserting free market principles into healthcare is very challenging. Are we willing to let people die in the streets, because they refused to buy healthcare? Many people don't have anything to begin with, and so they assume that if they get sick, someone else will have to pay for it. There is no easy solution, but it seems that what is being proposed goes a long way towards making things worse. All they are doing is expanding the existing situation, and hoping that it will pay for itself. It might be true that a free market system favors those who have money, but just like everything else, everyone will benefit from the innovation and efficiency that will take place in the long run.
The best solution is probably to break up the insurance monopolies, and let them seek out cost saving measures, while forcing them to inform consumers about the nature of their policies. They need to be allowed to design policies that encourage cost saving measures among consumers. However, they also need to be forced to inform consumers, so that they have a clear understanding of the policy they are buying, and what is covered or not covered. So people can buy budget plans with high co-pays, and little choice, or expensive fancy insurance. Then people can compare insurers and rates, across the nation, and try to choose health plans that will adequately cover them for an afforable price. There are many other good ideas, but unfortunately emotionalism and ignorance about free markets have so poisoned this debate, that whatever happens, the problem will likely get worse.
get a life 25 Oct 2009, 19:37do you think jesus would want free market anything the way the free market is run in this day and age.
Doug Buckley 26 Oct 2009, 19:26It's amazing how agitated some on the left become when their "emotionalism" is actually challenged.
Equal access to healthcare 16 Aug 2010, 00:28Quality health care should be equally accessible to all peoples of all economic levels. The problem with the current so-called free market system is that it is not "equal." With the current system, only the "haves" can access good quality health care. I dare to say that Jesus would not approve of that kind of system. Jesus cared about those who were the lowliest in this realm unlike many mainstream Christians today. To call the health care policy "Obama-care" first of all is a misnomer when it is hundreds of individuals working together to create the policy.
Doug Buckley 16 Aug 2010, 16:14Where does it say in the bible that government should steal from the rich and redistribute to the poor? It doesn't, and in fact stealing from people is a sin. Healthcare is a commodity, and there is no biblical basis for making someone pay for someone else's healthcare.
Taryn leydon 25 Oct 2010, 05:44I am consistently amazed at how you graciously and thoroughly respond to people who challenge your beliefs. I completely agree with what you have said in this article. You can not take from the dilligent and give to the sluggard and expect a good outcome. Jesus consistently speaks about hard work and reaping the benefits. Giving and charity work is out of the kindness of our hearts as Christians. The government stealing from the hardworking and redistributing as they see fit is socialism and it's nothing but corrupt and destructive.
Doug Buckley 25 Oct 2010, 12:17Thanks Taryn, that pretty much sums it up when it comes to bible being twisted around to support things like socialized healthcare instead of real charity.
dfirefox83 02 Mar 2011, 17:27I am helping a friend of mine write a case analysis about healthcare and leaving it to the free market and I gotta say, this is a great piece of article, Doug. It really doesn't seem bias and it comes from someone who is informed about what is going on and making a general statement about this healthcare reform without having to go about gibbering mumble jumbles. I, too believe healthcare should be left to the free market and if by the track record leaving anything in government's hands has shown, healthcare universal coverage might bumble and treated like something everyone wants like foodstamp and low-income housing.
Doug Buckley 03 Mar 2011, 07:44Thanks dfirefox. I recently bought a new pair of glasses online, 45$ shipped. I'm really impressed with the quality of them so far. Some optical places would charge hundreds for the exact same glasses.
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