An Insidious Mindset

So, the Providence Journal editorial board likes ObamaCare. What are you gonna do? A recent unsigned editorial, though, points toward a disturbing underlying premise:

Let us start with one of the provisions most beefed about on the campaign trail but also most necessary — the requirement that everyone buy coverage. Forcing people to obtain insurance is essential for two reasons: One is that it ensures a larger insurance pool to cover the expenses of sick people. Does this mean that the healthy must subsidize the ill? Yes, but that’s how insurance works.

This, in a phrase, is socialized medicine, and there’s no difference between this sort of involuntary insurance and compulsory redistribution of resources. Indeed, what redistributive scheme would not be possible to present in terms of “insurance”?
Relatedly, note this double misconception:

Perhaps the most important place to trim waste is in the unhealthy economic incentives that nudge doctors to prescribe more treatments and office visits than are necessary. This is also the hardest to fix, because it means narrowing or shutting down some income streams in a health-care industry that has virtually bought many members of Congress.
The Medicare program and private insurers are the ultimate payers and therefore perfectly placed to move health care away from the wasteful fee-for-service model and toward a results-oriented one.

First of all, Medicare bureaucrats and insurance providers are not the “ultimate payers.” They are middle-men between the people you pay for healthcare and people who deliver it. The ultimate payers are policy holders and taxpayers. They are perfectly positioned to trim waste from the system by deciding whether they’re willing to pay for it.
That suggestion leads to the second of all: It is hardly obvious that the players in the healthcare industry who neither receive the care nor deliver it have any incentive to lower costs in a way that maintains services. Their incentive is to extract more money from the payers and procure lower prices from the providers. Take more money from the payers, and they’re going to seek more services to make the higher price worthwhile; give less money to the providers, and they’re going to seek ways to tack more services on to their bills.

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Tommy Cranston
Tommy Cranston
13 years ago

With the $1.5 trillion annual deficits now assured by the bipartisan sellout (“deal”) America as we know it will not survive until 2020.
The Republicans know the right things to do but seldom do them and the Democrats (at least their dominant “progressive” wing) are too brain damaged to even know the right things to do.

13 years ago

The current system provides socialized medical care for those under a certain income. That income level has become the finish line people are unable to cross, because when they do a whole new race begins, one they cannot afford.
The answer? Quit the race.
Mediocrity provides health care. Ambition takes it away.

13 years ago

Government intervention is the root cause of almost any aspect which ails the current healthcare system in America. When our parents were young, and health insurance (at the private or government level) was but a vague notion, people paid (and respected) a professional to render a service for a price. Doctors were well compensated and were generally considered to be highly respected members of the community. They gave free care, or provided for some alternative form of payment for those in need, of their own free will, not with a government gun pointed at their head. Prices were transparent, not dictated by myriad middle men. People did not feel entitled to a doctor visit, or blow it off, because they paid a $20 co-pay. That $20 now dictates the worth of the physicians’ time in many people’s minds, because that’s all the skin they have in the game. States didn’t dictate what needed to be covered and thus require all to subsidize the few. Technology has advanced at the speed of light. But the cost of advanced technologies and medicines are subsidized by Americans for the rest of the world. The only reason we are able to provide the best medical care on earth (and anyone who argues that is clueless- please go to Italy when you are suffering from cardiac arrest, Canada when you need a neurological scan for that head bump you took while skiing, or just stop by the Mayo clinic to see all of the wealthy Arabs receiving some life saving treatment) is because there remains a modicum of capitalism left in the healthcare system at the provider level. Eliminate that, which Obamacare does, and you better pray you inherited good genes. Because with Obamacare, you will not have access to healthcare providers, nor the technologies… Read more »

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