Wednesday, October 28, 2009
I'll Pass on "Opting Out"
I'll Pass on "Opting Out"
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
The Democrats' all-new "opt out" idea for health care reform is the latest fig leaf for a total government takeover of the health care system.
Democrats tell us they've been trying to nationalize health care for 65 years, but the first anyone heard of the "opt out" provision was about a week ago. They keep changing the language so people can't figure out what's going on.
The most important fact about the "opt out" scheme allegedly allowing states to decline government health insurance is that a state can't "opt out" of paying for it. All 50 states will pay for it. A state legislature can only opt out of allowing its own citizens to receive the benefits of a federal program they're paying for.
It's like a movie theater offering a "money back guarantee" and then explaining, you don't get your money back, but you don't have to stay and watch the movie if you don't like it. That's not what most people are thinking when they hear the words "opt out." The term more likely to come to mind is "scam."
While congressional Democrats act indignant that Republicans would intransigently oppose a national health care plan that now magnanimously allows states to "opt out," other liberals are being cockily honest about the "opt out" scheme.
On The Huffington Post, the first sentence of the article on the opt-out plan is: "The public option lives."
Andrew Sullivan gloats on his blog, "Imagine Republicans in state legislatures having to argue and posture against an affordable health insurance plan for the folks, as O'Reilly calls them, while evil liberals provide it elsewhere."
But the only reason government health insurance will be more "affordable" than private health insurance is that taxpayers will be footing the bill. That's something that can't be opted out of under the "opt out" plan.
Which brings us right back to the question of whether the government or the free market provides better services at better prices. There are roughly 1 million examples of the free market doing a better job and the government doing a worse job. In fact, there is only one essential service the government does better: Keeping Dennis Kucinich off the streets.
So, naturally, liberals aren't sure. In Democratic circles, the jury's still out on free market economics. It's not settled science like global warming or Darwinian evolution. But in the meantime, they'd like to spend trillions of dollars to remake our entire health care system on a European socialist model.
Sometimes the evidence for the superiority of the free market is hidden in liberals' own obtuse reporting.
In the past few years, The New York Times has indignantly reported that doctors' appointments for Botox can be obtained much faster than appointments to check on possibly cancerous moles. The paper's entire editorial staff was enraged by this preferential treatment for Botox patients, with the exception of a strangely silent Maureen Dowd.
As the Times reported: "In some dermatologists' offices, freer-spending cosmetic patients are given appointments more quickly than medical patients for whom health insurance pays fixed reimbursement fees."
As the kids say: Duh.
This is the problem with all third-party payor systems -- which is already the main problem with health care in America and will become inescapable under universal health care.
Not only do the free-market segments of medicine produce faster appointments and shorter waiting lines, but they also produce more innovation and price drops. Blindly pursuing profits, other companies are working overtime to produce cheaper, better alternatives to Botox. The war on wrinkles is proceeding faster than the war on cancer, declared by President Nixon in 1971.
In 1960, 50 percent of all health care spending was paid out of pocket directly by the consumer. By 1999, only 15 percent of health care spending was paid for by the consumer. The government's share had gone from 24 percent to 46 percent. At the same time, IRS regulations made it a nightmare to obtain private health insurance.
The reason you can't buy health insurance as easily and cheaply as you can buy car insurance -- or a million other products and services available on the free market -- is that during World War II, FDR imposed wage and price controls. Employers couldn't bid for employees with higher wages, so they bid for them by adding health insurance to the overall compensation package.
Although employees were paying for their own health insurance in lower wages and salaries, their health insurance premiums never passed through their bank accounts, so it seemed like employer-provided health insurance was free.
Employers were writing off their employee insurance plans as a business expense, but when the IRS caught on to what employers were doing, they tried to tax employer-provided health insurance as wages. But, by then, workers liked their "free" health insurance, voters rebelled, and the IRS backed down.
So now, employer-provided health insurance is subsidized not only by the employees themselves through lower wages and salaries, but also by all taxpayers who have to make up the difference for this massive tax deduction.
How many people are stuck in jobs they hate and aren't good at, rather than going out and doing something useful, because they need the health insurance from their employers? I'm not just talking about MSNBC anchors -- I mean throughout the entire economy.
Almost everything wrong with our health care system comes from government interference with the free market. If the health care system is broken, then fix it. Don't try to invent a new one premised on all the bad ideas that are causing problems in the first place.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
“Competition is as American as apple pie.”
That’s the premise behind a new ad from MoveOn.org, the left-leaning grassroots group that’s pushing President Barack Obama’s socialized medicine plan. If it sounds familiar to supporters of free market reform, it should.
Competition is as American as apple pie, but there’s just one small problem with this group’s definition of the term.
By adding (or rather re-adding) a so-called “public option” to the latest trillion-dollar health care plan, Obama and his allies in Congress are not promoting competition – they’re squashing it. Simply put, by injecting the government directly into a market that it has the power to regulate, “Obamacare” would place the health care industry in America on an irreversible path toward nationalization – not to mention raise health care costs on the typical American family by as much as $4,000 per year.
Government doesn’t want to “compete” in the marketplace – it wants to artificially manipulate the marketplace to force millions of Americans out of private plans and into government-run plans, which they ludicrously claim will save taxpayers money.
At the heart of this bastardized notion of “competition” is the demonstrably false belief that government-run programs have lower administrative costs than private plans.
“Medicare has lower administrative costs than any private plan on the market,” U.S. Rep. Pete Stark wrote years ago as the government-run health care movement started picking up steam.
This is simply not true. Medicaid plans have significantly high per person costs than private plans, even though Medicaid is exempt from state health insurance premium taxes that private providers must pay.
“In recent years, Medicare administrative costs per beneficiary have substantially exceeded those costs for the private sector,” writes Dr. Robert A. Book for the Heritage Foundation. “This (is) despite the fact that, as critics note, private insurance is subject to many expenses not incurred by Medicare. Contrary to the claims of public plan advocates, moving millions of Americans from private insurance to a Medicare-like program will result in program administrative costs that are higher per person and higher, not lower, for the nation as a whole.”
Additionally, Medicaid is riddled with fraud and abuse – an epidemic problem that the U.S. government has shown little interest in “reforming.”
In fact, according to a CBS 60 Minutes report that aired last weekend, an estimated $60 billion out of $430 billion in annual Medicaid disbursements goes to fund fraudulent Medicaid claims.
That means one out of every seven dollars spent on Medicaid goes toward fraud – one reason why the program has seen skyrocketing annual premium increases in recent years, and one reason why its hospital trust fund is forecast to run out of money within the coming decade.
In South Florida, CBS found that Medicaid fraud had replaced cocaine traffic as the most lucrative criminal enterprise.
Why would a program that’s ostensibly so vital to the health of the nation be allowed to pour so much money down the drain?
“Our oversight budget has been extremely limited,” the government’s top anti-fraud bureaucrat complained to CBS, revealing another flaw of the “public option.”
Whenever these government-run monstrosities break down – and they always break down – every American taxpayer is suddenly on the hook for the “bailout.”
Is this really the sort of system we want to expand – perhaps to include as many as 100 million new Americans? Of course not. But that’s exactly what would happen under the plan currently being debated in Washington.
Obviously, proponents of Obama’s socialized medicine proposal are very well aware of the public’s skepticism when it comes to supporting unsustainable entitlement programs – which is why they are hiding the greatest government power grab since the “Great Society” beneath a cloak of capitalist-sounding terms like “market principles,” “choice” and “competition.”
Don’t be fooled. The only “choice” Americans will receive in this “market” will be left exclusively to government bureaucrats, whose definition of “competition” is racking up exorbitant costs to provide substandard service – and then sticking you with an ever-expanding bill.
Posted by Brett at 6:46 PM