Willful Naivete on Healthcare

Although I’m fully sympathetic with the inclination to ignore complications, I find it hard to believe that syndicated columnist Froma Harrop hasn’t heard the basic argument against the following assumption, spoken this time with reference to health insurance (emphasis added):

You see, health care has become just another racket by which clever operators can scoop up fortunes. There’s a ton of money to be made nickel-and-diming doctors and hospitals while making sure you don’t sell insurance to sick people — and that’s the legal part. Once government offers coverage, it’s Game Over for the manipulators — and more of our health-care dollars go for health care.

She can’t really believe such a bromide as “once government offers coverage, it’s Game Over for the manipulators,” can she? The manipulators just shift gears, becoming part of the government, pulling its levers, and pushing for laws favorable to them. It’s a peculiarity of the liberal mind that identical problems transported to government somehow obtain a sheen of good intentions. Companies are evil because they cut corners and pressure providers in order to make a profit to sustain themselves; government is simply doing the best it can when it shaves corners through legislation and rations services to fit budgets.
From my experience, those greed-inspired businessmen are at least more likely to cut corners internally than the government, with its unionized and well-entrenched interests. The reason Harrop doesn’t “hear Medicare beneficiaries clamoring for a return to private coverage” is that government services — financed systematically by somebody else’s money — are more generous and less risky. They can only be so, however, at the expense of the rest of the industry and must, therefore, remain a relatively small percentage of the market.

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