Hard Working Traditional Values With A Dash of Fun

Hard Working Traditional Values With A Dash of Fun

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Wrong Way To Do Health Care

My local paper had a lead editorial last Saturday titled Health Care is a Moral Dilemna. The writer, John Florez, argued that the moral thing to do is spend more money providing health care to poor people.

I agree that health care is a moral dilemma, but for an entirely different reason.  The way health care works in America is the average household spends about 6 percent of their income on health care but the nation spends about 18 percent on health care. Where does the other 12 percent come from? Mostly employers and government. In the case of government, more and more of the money spent is not money collected from taxpayers, but borrowed money that will have to be paid back by future generations.

That´s not morally right.

I think it is immoral to not only take money from a child´s piggy bank, but stuff it full of IOU´s that he or she will have to pay back when they grow up, all for money spent on my generation.

This is a crazy system and totally ignores free market economics that has proven how to lower costs to affordable levels. It´s easy to see why our system is so messed up. Consider a system where you only have to pay one-third of the cost of your food and someone else has to pay the other two-thirds. Do you think your buying habits would change?  Of course they would. You would spend more money because most of it is not yours.

The morally right thing to do is to fix our health care system so we can pay for it ourselves without passing on the bill to our kids. Our most expensive-in-the-world health care system was rife for reform before Obama Care made it worse. America pays more for health care without a comparative boost in benefits. Numerous studies show that there are many other countries with far lower health care costs with healthier, longer living citizens. Unfortunately, Obama Care was a political solution to an economics problem. President Obama proved to be too inexperienced and too unwilling to provide leadership to use the historic opportunity he had to make corrections to the health care system that would lower costs and thereby make it more affordable to more people.

Here is the crux of the problem. Obama Care focused on goals (affordable health care access to all). Economics doesn´t work that way, it is incentives, not goals, that you have to watch for.  That is why employers are not hiring more people, keeping the number of employees under 50, and dropping worker´s hours under 30 hours. They are trying to avoid the higher costs associated with Obama Care. None of these things will help more people get health coverage and actually result in fewer employed people and fewer work hours. Meanwhile, special interest groups get exemptions from participating in Obama Care, to the detriment of everyone else that is stuck with it.

It´s the incentives, not the goals that drive actions.

We know that we could lower the cost of health care if there was more price competition with prescription drugs.  This was not part of health care reform.

We know that we could lower the cost of health care if there was tort reform to limit the add-on costs created by the trial lawyer industry. This was not part of health care reform.

We know that we could lower the cost of health care if providers were paid on the results of their actions.  Instead, the more procedures, needed or not, are performed and billed, the more money providers can make. This was not part of health care reform.

How bad did Obama Care blow its chance to fix health care? Here is a quote from Confidence Men, by liberal author Ron Suskind where he talks about Dartmouth Method reformer Dr. Jim Weinstein, whose research had found widespread waste and unnecessary procedures throughout the health care industry and was hopeful that Obama Care would address these obvious problems.  However, special interests squelched any chance at these much needed reforms.

     To spend a ¨once-in-a-generation¨ effort on extending coverage to the uninsured--without any real teeth in using evidence about what was effective in reducing unnecessary procedures, and driving down costs--was a ¨stunning error.¨

     ¨It made things worse,¨ he said solemnly.

     And then he got frustrated. ¨I can´t believe how wrong they got it. This was our one chance, and we completely blew it.¨

What´s it going to take to get a health care system that is based on economic realities and not political special interest lobbying? Let´s stop the fiscal child abuse of stealing money from future generations to pay for today´s health care costs.

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