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September 20th, 2010

The Emperor’s New Doctor

When Clinton accepted the Democrats’ nomination in 1992, he promised the party faithful that getting health care for all U.S. citizens would be his number one priority. He gave the impression that he’d come up with a plan and if that got knocked down by the evil doctors and Republicans he’d come up with another plan, and if that got knocked down he’d come up with yet another plan until it was a done deal.

He wouldn’t rest until the United States had a health care system in place that was on par with the rest of the developed world. If necessary, he would twist every congressperson’s arm or do battle with any lobbyist or special interest group, including the all powerful AMA. If elected, we could sleep well in the knowledge that before he left the White House, Americans from rich to poor would have equal access to health care.

This turned out, of course, to be just another empty promise by a consummate politician. In truth, he did very little, if anything at all, to help us realize this dream. He turned health care reform over to his wife, and when her plan was knocked down he rolled over and played dead. He gave it the old college try, he wanted us to know, but the AMA in league with the evil Republicans put up too good a fight.

Sixteen years later candidate Obama made a similar promise, except he was even more specific. He would see to it that all Americans received the very same coverage that he received as a member of the Senate. What we got instead was a legal obligation to purchase insurance, and a handful of feel good insurance regulations guaranteed to force health insurance premiums higher. Despite all of the victorious hoopla we’re hearing from the administration and the Democrats in Congress, our “health care reform” will improve nothing and will actually make the situation even worse than if we’d done nothing at all.

A grade school student should be able to see that the health insurance industry basically does nothing but add another expensive layer of cost. They provide no services, other than counting money and skimming a lot off the top. They are middle men, and there’s an old adage in business that you greatly reduce costs by eliminating middle men.

Indeed, if we were to do the unthinkable and outlaw health insurance completely, you’d see the cost of health care go down dramatically and quickly. If doctors and hospitals had to collect their fees directly from patients, fee schedules would have to be based on what the patient could afford, not on an endless pool of money provided by insurance companies. Unfortunately, pay-as-you-go would also mean a reduction in the quality of health care received for most of us with modest means, for even much cheaper bypass surgery will be terribly expensive.

The solution can only be a single payer plan, or at the very least, a public option available to all. But this will not happen because too many Americans are only concerned about their own well being and don’t want their tax dollars to pay to treat someone else’s disease. This why-should-I-pay-for-your-health-care philosophy conveniently forgets that we’re already paying for other people’s health care through our insurance premiums, and enriching insurance executives in the process.

Ironically, mostly these would be the same Americans who are perfectly happy to have their tax dollars used to blow up Cruise Missiles at $3 million a pop.

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