Wednesday, September 19, 2007

HillaryCare deconstructed

Cato's Michael D. Tanner does the hard work of critiquing Hillary Clinton's socialized medicine by proxy so I don't have to. Among the points he makes:

Sen. Clinton would require every American to purchase health insurance or face penalties. There are many problems with such a mandate. It restricts individual choice and liberty. It will require a massive new bureaucracy to enforce. And it sets in motion a whole series of regulatory requirements that will ultimately lead to greater government control of our health care.

Of particular concern to me is the proposal to require small businesses to offer coverage to their employees or pay extortion to the feds to fund a government program. I'm involved in small-scale real-estate investments that (I hope) will grow larger and perhaps require employees in the future--a prospect that becomes less likely the more costly barriers are placed in the way of growth. My wife would also be affected, since she owns a small but thriving business which would be hit hard by such a mandate.

The current issue of the Cato Policy Report provides a more detailed analysis of the flaws inherent in individual health mandates. That's timely not just because of Hillary Clinton's dictate-heavy proposal, but because such promises to provide everybody with the health coverage of their dreams at low, low prices through the wave of a magical legislative wand have proven to be crowd-pleasers--just ask Mitt Romney. As Glenn Whitman says, somewhat ominously, in the piece:

Effective health care reform would involve making customers more cost-conscious. The individual mandate, sadly, will tend to shield customers from costs and impede innovations that could push costs down. Rising insurance premiums, as a result of a growing mandated benefits package, will fuel greater public dissatisfaction with the health care system. Further regulations that hitchhike on the individual mandate will only make matters worse. Ironically, free markets rather than government will likely catch the blame, thus fueling demand for more intrusive interventions into the health care market.

Isn't it always the case that liberty is blamed for the failings of authoritarianism? People may chafe at the occasional government dictate, but let some crisis (or even a mere annoyance) arise and rather than demand more freedom to make their own choices, they insist that somebody do something to free them from the terrible responsibility of making things better by their own initiative.

If the past is any guide, we'll be lucky if the worst we suffer is HillaryCare.



Blogger Gringo_Malo said...

Is Hillary going through a self-destruct sequence? Forcing people to buy health insurance can't possibly appeal to the typical Democratic voter, who wants something for nothing and thinks that government can give it to him. Now that she's announced that she won't immediately withdraw from Iraq, she must be alienating the anti-war crowd. Could this be her way of throwing in the towel, or is that just wishful thinking on my part?

It's interesting that Whitman mentions the high rate of noncompliance with California's auto insurance law. California is also, I believe, the state with the largest number of illegal aliens, and we all know who is most likely to be driving without insurance. I understand that many of those without health insurance are illegal aliens. Why would anyone expect illegal aliens to comply with a health insurance law any more than they comply with the auto insurance law, the immigration laws, or the document forgery laws? In this case, a little authoritarianism, applied to the right people, could decrease the number of uninsured and the burden imposed by free riders. The government is supposed to defend us from invasion, isn't it?

The only way to make individual health care consumers more cost-conscious is to make them pay for their own health care. Our peculiar American system (which I call half-assed socialism) combines the worst features of communism and capitalism. The government pays for some people's health care, but lets the health care providers charge pretty much whatever they please. Government won't pay discriminatory rates, so we're all gouged. Unfortunately, abolishing the unconstitutional government health care programs and restoring a free health care market would require restricting the franchise to people who actually pay taxes, and their own insurance premiums, of course. That's not possible without a violent revolution.

September 24, 2007 2:26 PM  

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