Friday, July 24, 2009

National Health Care Saves Money - Huh?

Let's get this straight. If national healthcare passes we will actually cut down on government spending and the overall costs of providing healthcare will decline.

If this makes sense to you, you're probably not reading this blog. If this makes sense to you, you may be unable to read.

There may be a social welfare argument regarding giving the uninsured insurance and incurring higher costs to do so. That's a legitimate argument. I don't believe a government plan is the best alternative available to acheive that goal. But it's an argument. Where the president goes astray is when he argues that the costs will actually go down. This is a child's argument, suggesting that hard choices don't have to be made, that this works best from every angle. It doesn't. If you want to insure more people it will cost more. Is the social welfare benefit greater than the economic cost? You can argue for one or the other. But you can't suggest we can have it all. This is the immaturity that is so dangerous.

The idea that a massive government expansion into healthcare would actually result in smaller government and less costs in the aggregate is so offensive to one's intelligence that I fear this may indeed be the beginning of the end of this interesting Obama as president experiment. Cool only gets you so far. At some point you have to respect the people you represent as a leader and lay out the facts.

The basic argument is that this approach will achieve savings out of the wasteful spending in the current system and will increase "competition". These arguments are so obviously flawed that I find it sad that anybody could actually advocate these two things in public.

First, Government-run anything doesn't operate efficiently. The President gave an example of pediatricians ordering tonsilectomies for children, not because the children needed it, but because they could earn a fee for doing it was truly condescending. Yet, he still has the support of the AMA and doctors. I guess he can pee on them and they'd still think he was great. He's going to cut their salaries and now he accuses them of ordering tests to get some extra fees.

Second, there are about 1,700 different private health insurance plans in America ranging from large corporate insurers to self-employed to personal insurance companies. I guess now that we have 1,701 thanks to the addition of the government public option, we'll really have competition!

But who knows, this may still pass. Both the Senate and the House have huge majorities. Maybe we can have it all. Or maybe this will indeed be President Obama's Waterloo.

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