Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Death Panels, Free-Market or Not

Today I read an article by Froma Harrop in called “Free-Market Death Panels”. Here are some of my thoughts in response to it.

I have to say that I am extremely sorry for what she has endured with the death of her husband. I cannot possibly imagine what she had to go through. But... she decided to use her plight to make a political point which gives me the right to rebut it.

First of all, she writes:

“What we wouldn't have done to have traded Dollar Bill's minions for a government bureaucrat. The bureaucrat would have given a simple "yes" or "no" based on official guidelines. He or she would have had no personal stake in denying you care.”

I don’t think a bureaucrat would have given a simple "yes" or "no". I think they would put her husband in the line for the “next available chemotherapy” and told him to expect a letter in mail with the name and address of the hospital to report to for the procedure when his turn comes, sometime in the next 5 years. And that brings me to my second point.

The health insurance in its current form of all-included “basic maintenance” plan for your body is not a solution. It’s the problem. Problem that invariably arises when, after turning over management of your health to someone else, someone who does not have the same interest in it as you do, you later disagree with their decision. And the currently proposed healthcare reform will standardize exactly the same kind of health coverage and force it on everyone, thus amplifying and perpetuating the problem.

As for the ability to pay for it yourself, let me bring up the Public School system as an example (the same way our President brings his favorite Post Office comparison). The Public School system while bringing bad to mediocre education to everyone, at the same time makes private schools all but unaffordable to everyone in the middle class. It does it by making everyone who wants to send their children to a private school pay for it twice, once for the public school they don’t use and then for the private. And because the system is paid for through progressive taxation, people in different income levels find private schools equally unaffordable (the more you earn the more you pay for your local public school). This is exactly the kind of “competition” we are to expect from the proposed healthcare legislation. Moreover there won’t be much incentive to develop new drugs and treatments or get them approved unless they are expected to be paid for by the government standardized healthcare. So life saving procedures to be “paid for, yourself” might not even exist in the future.

So, what’s the solution? It might come as a shock but there might not be one, to be enacted by the government that is. After all if governments were good at solving problems then socialist states would flourish. But they don’t. Governments are not good at solving problems, people are. People try many solutions, most of them don’t work but some do. Governments impose a single solution on everyone and it doesn’t work.

Therefore the role of the government is to step away (eliminate mandates on insurance policies for example) and let people try their solutions. Free markets work. There is gain for everyone to solve this problem.