Health Care Reform – How free is the public option?

Posted by Jason | Posted in Economics, Government, Health Care | Posted on 13-10-2009

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Why are we Americans moving away from self reliance to the nanny state more and more every year? Do Americans truly believe because something comes from the government, that it is free? Financially, it is much more expensive than the private sector, but the most disturbing cost of government control is the loss of liberty.

America was founded on the belief that the government is a necessary evil, but an evil that must remain small and restrained to prevent it from becoming an unbearable evil. We used to always be skeptical of anything the government said knowing that government always wants more power to control us. Now we just seem to take politicians at their word that they want what’s best for us. Skepticism is something we much pass on generation after generation if we are to last as a nation.

Let’s take the health care reform debate. So many Americans are fed up with the rising costs, that they are begging the government to step in. They believe the government will take over health care, and some how they will be relieved of that burden. Not so fast. With the government controlling your health care, they will control your life on a much larger scale than ever before.

As I said in my previous blog, the economics of health care is suffering from price being hidden from the end consumer. Because of this, demand is constantly driven up with supply not keeping pace. This drives up cost, and the only way to bring cost back under control is to bring down demand. In a normal market this is done naturally through price signals. In a government controlled economy this is done by rationing or by force.

Let’s take rationing first. If the government’s budget for open heart surgeries is X and with the total budget of X only N amount of surgeries can be peformed, how does the government make sure there are not any more open heart surgeries than N? The government will setup strict criteria on who can have open heart surgery. If they find that criteria is allowing more patients than N, they will then make it even more stringent. So, knowing that this is the case, one must ask what criteria will they use? Will you be out of luck if you are too old? What if to keep the number of surgeries at N, you need to have a chance of survival at 75% and your chance is only 60%? What if that is your child’s chance of survival and now yours? As you can see, this is a very scary decision for us to leave in the hands of the cold, lifeless bureaucracy, but what’s worse is driving down demand by government force.

The second way I mentioned the government controlling demand is by force. “Now, come on.”, you say, “You are really going over the top here. Our government would never use force.” While you may see force as guns and tanks, that is not the only force the government uses. Again, as I mentioned in my previous blog on the root causes of rising health care cost, one of the biggest contributors to the demand side of health care is the obesity epidemic in this country. So as the government, how do you control the rate of obesity?

Is it too far fetched for government to outlaw certain foods? How about as mentioned above using criteria to control you? If you want to have access to X, you have to have an accounting of what you eat, similar to doing your taxes. Surely, we can already see the possibility of the government taking your kids away from you if the government deems that you are feeding them too much junk food and they weigh too much.  How about forcing everyone to have a chip injected into them for ease of keeping medical records and driving down cost via efficiency? Even worse, how about forced DNA screening and alteration to minimize the chance of cancer or other diseases? Science progresses so fast, we really have no way of knowing what the government may require of us five or ten years from now as part of the “public good” and “cost containment” when it comes to health care.

If you think the IRS is bad, how about the how about the Medical Records Service (I made this up, I think). Is it possible that the government would require an annual accounting of all medical services delivered to you to insure you are having regular checkups, following the doctors orders, etc?

“No problem.” you say, “I’ll just refuse this “required” screening or this “required” procedure.” Really? Can you refuse to do your taxes? There are already provisions in the bill for not having health care under either a private plan or the public option. If you don’t have health insurance, you will pay a fine and face prison time. If the government isn’t getting the results it wants, surely it will increase the fines and the prison time.

We have gone so far away in this country from what our founders believed, that they would roll over in their graves just at the thought of the IRS, and here we are today contemplating giving the decisions over our health to the government. Here we are begging the government to ration health care and force us into servitude so we can avoid going bankrupt or pay the family doctor out of our pocket for services rendered. We once believed that liberty was worth dying for in this country. Now it seems we don’t even think it’s worth being financially stressed for. Time will tell if we made the right decision, but I beg my fellow Americans to think this decision through with the worse case scenarios. Chance are those scenarios will come to fruition. Liberty is dear, so don’t give it away so cheaply.

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