Straight talk about universal healthcare
It's only May, but the rhetoric of the 2008 Presidential Campaign is already at fever pitch. This November, as in all election years, there are important issues at stake. One of them is the issue of socialized medicine or, to use the Democrats' latest euphemism for it, "universal healthcare." Universal disaster is more like it. The Dems do their best to put a positive, humanitarian spin on the idea, but the long-term ramifications would be devastating.
The Democrats would have you believe that conservatives who are against universal healthcare take this stance because they are mean-spirited and compassionless. Naturally, this isn't the case. And it's hardly how I feel.
I am against universal healthcare because I believe it will create one of the most intrusive government bureaucracies since the Internal Revenue Service, and it will impinge heavily on the individual freedoms of all American citizens.
Both Clinton and Obama would attempt to achieve universal healthcare coverage by relying primarily on private insurance. That's right - they would look to solve our nation's health care problems by giving control of the system to the insurance companies. Wow.
Their plans rely on an "individual mandate" - a legal requirement that every person obtain coverage. This is already law in Massachusetts, which mandates coverage for both adults and children (more on this below). The Massachusetts model is exactly what Hillary Clinton would try to impose nationally. Obama's plan would only require that parents obtain coverage for their children.
One of the key misconceptions among those who support either Clinton or Obama is that a universal healthcare system would make healthcare more affordable. What delusional planet are they from? Under socialized medicine, the healthcare system may be perceived as being more fair, but it certainly won't be any cheaper.
A better way to describe the program would be to call it "universal heath insurance." The idea is that by compelling everyone in the nation to participate in the insurance market, you'd cut down on what's known as the "free rider" syndrome. As the term suggests, this would be people getting a "free ride" from the healthcare system by deciding not to get their own health insurance because they've been assured that in the case of an emergency or personal health catastrophe, inexpensive care will be guaranteed to them by the government. The theory is that mandated participation would help to drive down insurance costs.
But any mandate requires an enforcement component. My fear is that a government branch with the kind of power to actually identify and penalize those seeking to avoid the insurance mandates of universal healthcare would be vast and all-powerful. The new healthcare arm of the government would likely have the same kind of power (and loathsome reputation) as the IRS.
I'm all about personal freedom and the rights of individuals. Universal healthcare is not only impractical, but costly - and not just for your pocketbook. It's handing over yet another right to the government, and allowing the government to decide and rule your fate.
I'm not compassionless-I'm just sensible. And universal healthcare as it's being proposed by both Clinton and Obama still doesn't make much sense to me.
The disaster of the Massachusetts universal healthcare system should give you a preview of what life under a universal healthcare scheme could be like.
The universal healthcare dam springs a leak
As I mentioned earlier, a Clinton-style program of mandated health insurance is already in effect in Massachusetts. Under that system, subsidized insurance is made available to individuals earning up to $30,636 annually, and families of four earning up to $61,956 per year. The state government has begun to impose stiff fines on residents who fail to purchase health insurance - and the penalties can amount to as much as $912 a year!
And this place is already known as "Tax-achusetts!"
Even though this system is in its infancy, it already has many vocal opponents. Devon Herrick, a senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis calls the Massachusetts universal coverage plan "overregulated and largely unworkable." Herrick explains that the least expensive health plan available through the program costs $196 a month, while the state fine for being uninsured is about half that cost -- $98 a month!
After just two years, Massachusetts' universal coverage program is running at a staggering $147 million deficit, and the four insurance carriers who provide the state- subsidized insurance are estimating that costs will go up by 14 percent next year.
Even more shocking is the manner in which Massachusetts state officials have decided to deal with the out-of-control costs of their broken system: they've ordered the insurance companies to cut payments to doctors and hospitals, reduce choices for payments, and possibly increase how much patients will have to pay.
I only hope that Americans get a good, long look at the disaster that universal healthcare has wrought on the economy and people of Massachusetts before a similar catastrophe is unleashed on the whole country. The train wreck in New England is headed our way if Clinton or Obama get into the oval office.
America: you have been warned.