How Government Will Destroy Health Care In The Name Of Fairness

It seems that over the past 30 years or so the Democrats have been decrying the poor state of health care here in the US despite the fact that we have one of the best (and most expensive) health care systems in the world. They keep bandying about the “47 million Americans have no health insurance” canard without explaining where they came up with that misleading claim. They also don't explain how their cure for this “problem” is to ensure the destruction of our health care system in the name of fairness and to turn it into an even bigger disaster than the Canadian or British National Health Service.

How is it that providing equally poor or non-existent health care to everybody is a fair to anyone? The Democrats won't bother to answer that question because we know how in love they are with the idea of 'equal outcome' even if it means destroying something that works pretty well, even though it's not perfect.

One thing we know is when a British member of the European Parliament is warning us not to go down the same path as the UK in regards to health care, we should listen:

[John] Prescott is trying to fabricate a row out of my interview with Sean Hannity on Fox News, in which I warned Americans against adopting a socialist healthcare system along British lines.

I wonder whether anyone still falls for this sort of stuff. For a long time, Labour politicians had two slogans which they would trot out whenever healthcare came up: "Envy Of The World" and "Free At The Point Of Use". These phrases were not intended to be arguments. Rather, they were ways of playing your trump, of closing down the debate.

The NHS, he says, is Britain's "greatest creation". Really? Greater than parliamentary democracy? Greater than penicillin? Greater than the discovery of DNA, or the abolition of slavery, or the common law? John, the NHS produces some of the worst health outcomes in the industrialised world. Britain is the Western state where you'd least want to have cancer or a stroke or heart disease. Ours is now a country where thousands of people are killed in hospitals for reasons unrelated to their original condition. If this is our "greatest creation", Heaven help us.

As for the second slogan, which [Prescott] renders as "need and not ability to pay", there is no health system in Europe or North America that leaves the indigent untended. What is at issue is not whether we force poor people to pay, but whether we prevent wealthier people from doing so. The British system treats everyone equally, it's true: we queue equally, we wait weeks for operations equally, we are expected to be equally grateful for any attention we get.

Any time government takes over a previously private enterprise, just about everybody suffers (except for the bureaucrats that end up running it...into the ground). And claims about how government will merely be another provider of health insurance to the contrary, the government will undercut the private health insurance providers until they pull out of the business or go under, and then “fill the gap” left by their departure. Once that happens, we'll be stuck with a massively inefficient and uncaring government bureaucracy that will see to making sure no one gets the health care they would otherwise be able to afford. This system will also drive people out of the medical profession, much as it has in Canada and the UK, creating a shortage of personnel that cannot be filled because of the disincentives the government has created for going into medicine.

A public program won't compete in a way that any normal business would recognize. As an entitlement, Congress's creation will enjoy potentially unlimited access to the Treasury, without incurring the risks or hedging against losses that private carriers do. As people gravitate to "free" or heavily subsidized care, the inevitably explosive costs will be covered in part with increased outlays to keep premiums artificially low or even offer extra benefits. Lacking such taxpayer cash, private insurance rates will escalate.

Much like Medicare, overall spending in the public option will be controlled over time by paying less for medical services, drugs and technology. With its monopsony purchasing power, below-market fees will be dictated on a take-it-or-leave-it basis -- an offer hospitals and physicians won't be able to refuse. Medicare's current reimbursement policies pay hospitals only 71% of private rates, and doctors 81%, according to the Lewin Group.

What we will end up is not health care, but access to a waiting list for health care. And like Canada and the UK, access to a waiting list is not access to health care, as far too many people in both countries have found out. Too many have died waiting for routine medical care that is readily available in the US. How is it the morons in Congress have come to believe this option is a solution to a problem that doesn't really exist? It's obvious they really don't understand the economics of what it is they're trying to do.

By controlling the prices and keeping the reimbursements artificially low (they call it keeping the price of services low), they are stimulating above normal demand for those services while at the same time ensuring the available supply of those services will dwindle. They will have created a shortage of health care providers in their efforts to make sure everyone has access to health care. That's what happens when people that haven't a clue about the laws of supply and demand start tearing apart a system they don't understand and replacing it with one they believe will work because they have the best interests of the people at heart. Their intentions are good.

We all know where that road leads. Unfortunately they're willing to drag us down there with them.

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