How not to reform American health care.
Jim DeMint is a Republican senator from South Carolina.
The plan favored by President Obama and the Democrats purports to control health-care costs by doubling the size of government health-care programs.
The so-called public option is a supposedly voluntary arrangement: a government-run insurance plan that will compete with private insurers. Supporters argue that the public option will not force anyone to do anything; it will merely provide an alternative to private insurance.
But government never competes in a private market; it takes the market over (how’s the mortgage-lending business doing these days?). The most comprehensive and reliable study of the public option, conducted by the Lewin Group, concluded that once the government enters the market, businesses will simply stop covering their employees. Whatever penalty fees they have to pay will be far less than the costs of insuring their employees.
The Lewin study estimated that of the 130 million Americans likely to enroll in the public option, 118 million will do so after losing their employer-sponsored plans. Add those 130 million to the 100 million now covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and other government programs, and we will have three-quarters of the American people dependent on the government for their medical care.
It is at this moment, in the very near and plausible future, that the tyranny of “coverage . . . provided in the public interest” will bare its teeth. With universal access mandated by law and without a competitive market to drive down costs, the only way for government to save money is by denying care to people whose health is deemed — you guessed it — not in the public interest. The only way to prevent expensive, breakthrough treatments from bankrupting the system is to limit access to them.
Every country with government-run health care rations that care. Patients wait weeks to see a doctor, months to see a specialist, and years to have routine procedures — all while they suffer with chronic illness, acute pain, and even metastasizing cancer. Unlucky patients who die on these waiting lists may be mourned by their families, but not necessarily by the depersonalized system of bureaucrats that politicians create primarily to control costs.
There are good, patient-centered solutions to America’s health-care challenges. Instead of the government-run public option, we should move toward a “personal option,” where we help individuals and families buy and own health-insurance plans that no government can take over or take away. Your health care should be administered by doctors and nurses who are focused on your health interests, not on the interests of politicians and bureaucrats in Washington.
Providing health care “in the public interest” will prove unimaginably expensive. But if the public option is ever enacted, millions of American families will learn quickly that its true costs cannot be measured in dollars.
April 27, 2009
Hat tip: NEConservative
How do the Obama deficits compare with past presidents? And how did the national debt get so big anyway. This video tries to answer those questions by looking at the debt as a road trip and seeing how fast different administrations have been traveling.
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