Those on the left believe that experts at the top of a hierarchical system are smarter and more well informed, and therefore should be empowered to make decisions on behalf of the people who elect them. Those on the right believe that a network of self-interested decision makers will almost always make better decisions than a central planner. Who you think is right matters way less than what history teaches us. Central planning is without equal as one of the best-sounding bad ideas ever invented by the mind of man.
In his book “The Problem with Socialism”, Thomas DiLorenzo said that socialism “always and everywhere” is an economic disaster, but adds that it’s hard to find a realm in which it has many examples of success in terms of human flourishing. It has caused misery on a scale that’s literally beyond our ability to process. And in chapter 9, he shows us “How Socialized Medicine Kills the Patient and Robs the Taxpayer”.
In the just-defeated plan by the Republicans to “repeal and replace Obamacare”, we see that House Republican leadership and the President have a fundamental misunderstanding of what they should be doing in that regard.
They should start by recognizing that our healthcare system had already been corrupted by those who don’t understand the purpose of insurance, and don’t believe in the power of free markets to fix things that are broken. One component of a good plan would be a way to level the playing field between employer and individually driven plans. By providing a tax credit for those who didn’t get tax-free insurance through their employers, they would have gone a big step in that direction.
But there’s still a misguided belief that health care and health insurance are the same thing. Or that you can’t get affordable health care without affordable health insurance. Both are demonstrably false, and it’s costing us plenty.
There are a few simple but big things that could be fixed that would be hugely positive.
- The aforementioned advantage in having an employer-provided health insurance plan should be levelized by providing an economic benefit (probably a tax credit) to those who don’t get the employer provided benefit. That one move instantly makes everyone a consumer, and consumers can be expected to be very savvy in finding the best plans at the lowest cost.
- Allow plans to be sold across state lines. There are no reasons left for this old rule, unless the Feds are willing to get out of the health and welfare business completely. That’ll happen right after pigs fly.
- Eliminate the limits on Healthcare Savings Accounts (HSAs). Savvy shoppers will quickly discover that they can more economically cover routine expenses (as well as a lot of things health insurance companies refuse to cover at all, like dental work, eyeglasses and hearing aids) by paying cash for them. They’ll negotiate or shop around for a good price, then pay cash for the service out of their HSAs. Costs for routine expenses will plummet.
Why is it so incredibly difficult for Republicans to do something that simple and free-market oriented? Part of the problem, it seems to me, is that too many people – including nearly everyone on the left and many more moderate Republicans – still misunderstand the role of health insurance and the role of the Federal Government in assuring access to healthcare for everyone.
Health Insurance is NOT a welfare program. The proper role of the federal government is to provide a level playing field, and rules that are fair to all who wish to play.
In a socialist system, the government promises to pay for everything. People buy into the idea that free stuff is great, not realizing that the government is a parasite, and they are its hosts. Eventually the parasite sucks so much out of the host that it dies. That’s the inevitable result of all socialist systems, including socialized medicine. Obama and his followers wanted what they euphemistically called “single payer” insurance. They wanted full-on socialized medicine; because they never met a problem they believed couldn’t be solved by the government. Ultimately they settled for the mish-mash they got because if they couldn’t get single payer, they were willing to settle for third-party payer. Third party payer is a euphemism for welfare. The government is still an ever-growing parasite, making the host sicker and sicker.
So in what ways is Obamacare more like welfare than insurance? First, it’s not free. Participants are conscripted. In a free market system, participants enter the system by free will. They either buy insurance or not – their choice. If they don’t, and they get hit with an unaffordable expense, they face financial ruin or death. That sounds harsh, but those are the rules by which free markets work. And remember that Patrick Henry wasn’t kidding about the importance of liberty to him.
Second, it conflates insurance and wealth redistribution (welfare). They are not the same, as previously pointed out. And always remember that the only way government is able to buy you anything, is to take it from people who they believe have too much of it anyway. Be afraid.
The essence of insurance on the other hand is to allow everyone to buy protection by paying now for no certain benefit, but rather to be protected in the event of an unaffordable loss. No coercion. No fines for nonparticipation. No taking from anyone without their consent, regardless of whether they can afford it or not.
Finally, insurance contributes to the Treasury by paying taxes, and has no direct cost to the taxpayer. Welfare is all cost, contributes nothing, and grows the bureaucracy, all while ripping the social fabric of our great country to shreds little by little.
So why couldn’t Republicans pass the AHCA? Because it would have fixed nothing I described as being wrong, and left in place much of the infrastructure that’s sapping our strength as the parasite gets fatter and fatter.
For these reasons and more, I’m happy to see the AHCA go down in flames. I pray that we will be able to find the will to put true reform on the table. If we fail to get that done in time, I fear a long slide down the slippery slope into socialized hell.