Like many of you, I also listened to President Obama recently fielding questions on proposed health care reforms currently under consideration. One of the less artful answers came on the subject of what kind of health care he would like for his own family. Ed Morrissey found it to be telling, labeling it a Dukakis moment. I’m not sure if it was quite that bad, but it certainly didn’t speak well for his proposal. However, that’s not the key issue for me thus far.
As we’ve done here in the past on other issues, I have a few basic questions on a government run health care program and perhaps some of the brighter bulbs among our readers can help me out with them.
1. Is it really a choice? The President once again trotted out the same quote I’ve heard repeatedly when he’s been asked about competition in the private industry. He wants to be “absolutely clear” that if you have a health plan you like, you can keep it! Of course you can keep it. But will you? If your current plan through your employer costs you a couple hundred dollars per month, like mine does, and suddenly there’s a government run plan available that promises roughly the same level of coverage for one hundred bucks per month, how many of you will stay with your old plan? I don’t see why I would. I’d like to save more than one thousand dollars per year, wouldn’t you? Sounds great, but then what happens to this huge industry and all of its various employees when most of us bail out? Is American health insurance, as an industry, too big to fail?
2. Who will stand in your way? I keep hearing about how private insurance schemes have profit minded functionaries standing between you and your doctor when it comes to major health care decisions. Won’t a government run plan just replace that person with a government bureaucrat? Surely they can’t just rubber stamp every request either, or the system will run out of money and collapse even sooner. Is this a plus?
3. It’s still all about the benjamins. We can’t seem to get a straight answer on what the final price tag will be, not just this year, but in the second, third, fifth and tenth years down the road. It looks like a pretty daunting number on top of a national debt that’s already taking on the shape of grim death. How does Obama plan to pay for it? He says he will find the money by way of eliminating waste, fraud and abuse in the system. I’m sorry, but if you can find a trillion dollars in waste, fraud and abuse in the system, why haven’t you done it already? And if you got rid of all of that waste, fraud and abuse, would we even need to reform the system in the first place?
Health care reform still sounds like on of those great ideas that everyone would like to see. Hell, I’d like to see it. But this is the real world. I remain unconvinced that letting the government replace our health insurance industry – and possibly drive the private sector out of existence at the same time – is a viable strategy. And until we have the answers to these questions down solidly in black and white, we shouldn’t rush into another multi-trillion dollar boondoggle.