As politicians fiercely debate the passing of a bill that would constitute the greatest overhaul of the healthcare system in the history of our nation, it’s easy to get confused by the rhetoric of political speeches and not fully understand the reality of a government-run healthcare system. Before we can understand exactly what the Obama administration is proposing, we have to understand what the government of late has become. Practically speaking, government is simply a group of individuals whom we elect to tell us what to do. It exists to serve the common good of society which the private sector cannot address. Government in the United States was meant to be limited enough to allow for individual liberty and free enterprise to flourish. Yet in recent years, we’ve seen government expand to monumental proportions, to the point where it is now directly involved in our daily lives. While government is necessary to regulate the free market, it should not dictate or attempt to control industries. Unfortunately, Obama’s healthcare plan attempts to do just that.
‘Socialized medicine’ is a term that has been thrown around a lot lately, but it is another one of those terms that too many use and too few understand. Smothered by Obama’s promises of quality healthcare for everybody, the rhetoric of socialized medicine sounds much better than its ugly reality. Instead of competition in the free market determining best quality healthcare for each individual patient, that responsibility would be placed entirely in the hands of the government. In order to account for everybody, the government would have to provide mediocre healthcare that would pale in comparison to the quality received under the free market. President Obama recently nominated Sherry Glied to the post of chief policy advisor to the President regarding implementation of health reform. Dr. Glied has previously stated that government-directed efforts to reduce costs will be ineffective, and that a government-run system will lead to under-funding and a two-tiered health system. Patients would have to wait in long lines which, Dr. Glied admitted, “will in some cases lead to worse healthcare for patients”. One of Obama’s recent proposals has been to allow a board of federal officials to make “recommendations on cost reductions” that would have the force of law. Do we really want a board of unelected bureaucrats making health decisions for American patients based on what they think will cost least “on average”? Federal boards are going to decide what is and isn’t good for you and me, driving a wedge between doctors and their patients. And let’s not forget the amount of taxpayer money needed to support the system. The idea that public healthcare is a cost-cutter is laughable. Costs are going to explode. Estimates range from 1.5 to 2 trillion dollars at the very least. Regardless, the government will still have to ration its services among the population, causing a critical shortage in the supply of available healthcare.
Obama has tried to smooth over the reality of the plan by stating that citizens have the right to keep their old insurance. Yet as the newly inserted claw of government slowly tightens its grip around the healthcare industry, private business will be phased out. Before long government will be the sole provider of healthcare and without competition to improve customer care, the prices will stay high and the quality of health will remain stagnant.
Polls show that 89% of Americans are satisfied with their current private coverage. That would leave a number of 33 to 47 million people who show up on the books are being uninsured. Now, let’s break that number down. When you take college kids plus those earning $75,000 or more who choose not to sign up for a healthcare plan, roughly 20 million people are removed from the list of uninsured. After that you can remove the 10 million who are not U.S. citizens and the 11 million eligible for SCHIP and Medicaid but for some reason have not signed up for those programs. That leaves only 10 to 15 million people (3% of the population) among the long term uninsured. Yes, they need help, but not with government backed insurance plans or massive tax increases. Instead, we can give the truly uninsured vouchers that will allow for choice and coverage, which will cost only $25 billion dollars per year – with no socialized medicine.
Yet the politicians on Capitol Hill think otherwise. Senator Tom Daschle stated “Health care reform will not be pain free. Seniors should be more accepting of the conditions that come with age instead of treating them,” while former Colorado Governor Dick Lamm said that seniors have “a duty to die.” Yet, they neglected to mention that under the current and proposed healthcare plan, government officials receive special, privileged coverage.