ALLAN DOBZYNIAK, MD
It is notable how the concept of “Medicare for all” has presently provoked such vigorous support by the Democrat leadership. With Obamacare moving the balance so close to single-payer via political muscle, to have a reversal of this embedded ideological goal is intolerable to the left. The thought of placing any entitlement back on the bargaining table and above politics, healthcare in particular, continues to be outside of mainstream Democratic mainstream ideological thinking. There is no guarantee an expanding welfare state can continue, despite emotional pandering that eclipses this reality. The weaponization of emotional issues to manipulate people, such as “virtue signaling,” is a despicable tactic. To create a public perception of, “I get mine no matter what the state of the country is when I get it,” is a formula for insolvency as the government goes broke. Look at Europe.
Free markets drive value to the goods and services we consume. In contrast, centrally planned government-run healthcare must rely on coercion. Of interest here is that this concept above all is the Achilles’s heel of Obamacare. It is obvious that millions of the young and healthy are forced into the exchanges and there exploited. The presidential rhetoric declaring you can keep your plan if you want, you can keep your doctor if you like him and the cost of insurance will decline are fabrications disguising coercion. “Medicare for all” is no less a fraud where the coercion expands. Participation will be mandatory and decisions regarding one’s personal healthcare will be in hands of tragically inefficient bureaucrats subservient to politicians.
There are several lessons from history, economics and data analysis that apply here. Government that goes too far destroys economic and personal freedom. As it pertains to economic activity, free private markets are most efficient and tend to support human and economic freedom. What government spends as it intrudes into free enterprise tends to be inefficient, drives up cost, crowds out market discipline and hampers progress. Given the abysmal historical and economic record of government expanding into markets, why would anyone want to transfer all of health care to such an entity. History further warns us of the compromise of human freedom this implies. As a reminder, socialism has never worked, ever.
Even without debating medical care specifics, the lessons of history, economic freedom, political freedom and human freedom demand caution as we allow those with “good” intentions who know best for all of us to proceed, especially since there is no historical record demonstrating that a top-down political or economic system has ever been successful. Certainly, such systems have never originated, promoted or acted to sustain human freedom.
Only when it is again allowable to discuss economics with judgment rather than “virtue,” can the “the good of society” be quantified in cost. Government using tax dollars taken from the private sector and borrowing to finance an enterprise has nothing to do with free markets. The centralization of authority in healthcare is no different from in any other economic endeavor. It compromises economic freedom, personal freedom and political freedom.
Acquiescence of the populace to the centralization of power is perhaps the singular reason republics have historically failed. Is it then unreasonable to ask why we cannot move toward consumer-friendly health plans Americans prefer so individuals control their healthcare dollars, including the means to pay for medical care, over their lifetimes?
Obamacare disrupted the third-party payment system, but in the wrong direction. It encouraged what has made healthcare expensive in the first place. Common sense certainly predicts and data shows that the more heavily Americans depend on third parties for medical bills, the higher the cost of healthcare. This is only manageable by government via more coercion disguised as price controls that by necessity must lead to rationing. Change becomes enigmatic. Since healthcare is so expensive, American consumers cannot imagine having to pay on their own. Healthcare is so expensive precisely for this reason; we do not pay for it ourselves. The fine line between dependence on third parties and increasingly more personal responsibility for healthcare costs should come with the gradual introduction of personal responsibility implicit to economic freedom.
There exists a huge cultural divide. On the one hand is the statists’ belief in large public bureaucracies. Saul of Tarsus feared “that men might yield up their birthright from God for pottage and walk no more in freedom.” Seemingly, a healthcare system retaining individual freedom would be preferable to one based on symbolism and messaging rather than actuality. The political satirist H. L. Mencken said, “The kind of man who wants the government to adopt and enforce his ideas is always the kind of man whose ideas are idiotic.”
The opinions stated here are those of the author and do not, necessarily represent those of Healthcare Michigan.