No matter what the final estimate for Health Care reform is, it will cost a lot more.
The bills being written already carry price tags so high it’s mind boggling… $1 trillion over ten years, even $1.6 trillion over ten years. A large number like that seems to convey honesty and straight-talk, yet probably only scratches the surface of what will be a much higher bill. Recall: Social Security was sold to the American public as a 1% tax on the employee and employer, scaling up to 3% on each in 1948. How close are the rates to 3% now? Well, employers and employees both pay 6.2% in tax and Social Security is now the largest expenditure in the federal budget.
No, Walter, You’re Not Wrong…
This article’s point is only to illustrate the cost difficulties any attempts by congress to reform health care will have. It is not to push for any specific health care overhaul plan. There is much inefficiency in the current system which definitely need to be ironed out. Future health care articles by me will probably cover the things this article is lacking.
Myth, Legend, and Lore
What do you think of when you think of ‘Socialized Medicine’? Probably cradle to the grave care in Scandinavia, or some other European country. Setting aside the fact the word Socialized is almost a dirty word, note that in America it has come to mean ‘Run by the Government’. It doesn’t matter what the word’s actual definition is, Socialized Medicine boils down to a health plan in which people pay the government in order to facilitate health insurance.
There is already government run medicine here. At the federal level, there are at least four Government health care plans today. The Veteran’s Administration, Medicare, Medicaid, and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. Going back to the Census document I used in my previous article, you can see that Government run programs already insure 27.8% of people in America.
Massachusetts: The Lessons Learned
One state has already passed a universal health care mandate (2006). Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy is helping craft one of the reform bills using Massachusetts as a guide. However, tough times in the state (and nation, obviously) have led to some tough decisions in the plan- to the tune of $115 million in cuts. Massachusetts already is running $75 million over budget in 2009, even after a budget with 1/3 more spending than 2008 (which itself was almost 50% over budget). Is this the sort of program we want to extend to a national scale?
Debunking Another Myth
Medicare covered 13.8% of people in the country in 2007 (Medicaid covered . Medicare is a Government run health plan, which has all of the qualities which are held up as desirable in any public-option health care overhaul. It can set its own rates, it is easy to qualify for and its relatively cheap for the insurees. Wouldn’t it then be a great example of how Government could run a public health care?
No, and no one would make that claim. President Obama has already proposed $600 billion in cuts to Medicare and Medicaid over the next decade to help pay for health care reform. If we want to have a public option, doesn’t that seem like taking money from your left hand to give to your right? A further study for your consideration: the Pacific Research Institute reports than Medicare spending has increased 34% more per patient than other forms of insurance since 1970. If government medicine can’t control it’s own costs now, where does the idea that government will reduce waste in medicine come from? Ben Franklin (or was it Rita Mae Brown?) once said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”
When Herrings are Red
“Well, the government runs the military,” is often used as an argument for a government run health insurance. This is just purposeful redirection, ‘ignoratio elenchi.’ It’s a complete non-sequitur. The U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 8 provides the government with the right to raise a military. There is no such entry for ‘health care’. Military and Defense spending is an externality… a single person’s needs for national defense are way too low to give it much thought. The need of an individual for health insurance is a whole different ballgame. Controlling externalities is a necessary function of government. There is no comparable argument for government run health care.
Also, there is the question of scale. The United States Military is, bar none, the greatest fighting force in the world. The military consists of 1,473,900 active duty personnel and 848,056 reserve personnel stationed at around 820 installations. “Pretty big,” you might say. On the other hand, the United States consists of 307,212,123 people!
Let It Be Summarized!
As I stated in my last article on this issue, I believe something should be done to fix the health care problems in our country. I question whether a ‘Public Option’ is the right prescription to nurse our health care system back to health (how about them metaphors?). Discussing the vast costs and the best method to insure more people isn’t an issue that should be taken lightly, and probably shouldn’t be forced through our legislative system at warp speed. Regardless, change is necessary, so this debate is a healthy one to have. Let’s keep it going.