Six Conservative Guys

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Sunday, May 31, 2009

"Specialists, and underpaid generalists will hang it up years ahead of their planned exit from medicine in just about any system that the Obama administration is likely to devise. They’ll scarcely need to ration care: there just won’t be anyone around to deliver it. Government will kill the golden goose, and then blame it upon everyone and anyone else. As usual.”

Who will government blame for the next crisis it creates? Greedy doctors? Pharmaceutical companies? Insurers? I guess all of the above.

The problem with health care is that there is no real market incentive. The person receiving the service is, in almost all cases, completely unaware of the true cost of the service they receive.

This is true even (perhaps especially) for those with good insurance. I know this from handling my grandmother's bills while she was ill. We pay her co-pay, sure, but there is very little incentive to go through the trouble of questioning a bill, shopping for a better deal, or even checking to make sure you weren't charged for a service you didn't receive. We have a great health care system, but the problems we have are due to not enough free market incentives, not too many of them.

As for those without insurance, the idea that they are left out in the cold is ridiculous. The poor and elderly in this country receive free medical care already through medicaid and medicare. You can't do much better than free.

If you are not poor, the key question is who should pay for your health insurance? With national health care, the assumption seems to be that the answer to that question is: "someone else."

The problem with this logic, however, is that the non-poor are, well, non-poor. They necessarily will be among the group of people who get stuck with the bill. The poor may also end up paying for this too, in the form of a value added tax (VAT) or some sort of national-sales tax that hits everyone.

I understand that health care isn't cheap. Middle class families have to sacrifice quite a bit for health care -- by doing without other things, working extra jobs, or taking a job that is not ideal because it comes with health care, for instance. What I don't understand is the notion that other people should sacrifice in order to pay for your family's health care. It seems to me that providing for our own families should be first and foremost, our own responsibility.

In the case of the poor, who lack options or ability to take care of themselves, the government needs to step in -- though I do think that even the poor should contribute something, if only to make the point that the service isn't free and to provide some sort of market incentive to hold cost down.

Hat tip for this story, Instapundit.

Bravo. To hi-light one point, I've always believed that everyone should contribute - even the poor. (I almost put "poor" in quotes in the last sentence, as being considered poor doesn't seem to be too bad off here in the U.S., but didn't as I thought it would seem cold.) Everyone who receives government services - and that's all of us (national defense, infrastructure, etc.) - should contribute, even if it's a small amount. This is the only area I can think of where I guess I support raising taxes...which is easy to do on people (and there's LOTS of 'em) who don't pay any right now.
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