Universal Health Care: An Idea Who’s Time Should Never Come

By: Robert E. Meyer

Now that the Democrats have majorities in both houses of congress, and seem poised to make a run at the presidency in ’08, the idea of universal health care is again gaining ascendancy. Another tentacle of this abominable socialist leviathan is rearing itself from the abyss.

The idea of health care paid for by the government for everyone seems appealing, but the drawbacks of such a program make its establishment an albatross.

In the 1950′s physicians made a good living, yet the average person good afford a house call.

What are the main contributors to the escalating cost of health care? There are probably several factors, but two of the main contributors are excessive government entanglement in underwriting the cost of health care, and the costs related to perpetual litigation for malpractice.

Think of it this way: If you are not paying for health care, how sick will you need to be before you will go see a doctor? That invites abuse of the system. If you are a provider, how much will you charge if you know you will be paid whatever you charge? That is a ticket to greater cost and inefficiency. If your profits are limited by mandatory price caps, how long will you continue to provide the highest quality of service? That is the pathway to diminished quality of service.

What is the single best way to reduce health care costs? Preventative maintenance–and almost all of us have the capacity to do something about that. Do you eat large quantities of junk food? Do you fail to exercise and watch your weigh? Are you a smoker or an excessive user of alcohol? If you answered yes to any of these questions, it is alright–this is America–you have a freedom of choice. But if you answered yes, please don’t ask me to subsidize your bad habits via a system that seeks to economically equalize those who are health conscious with who are indifferent.

Universal health care will make care worse for almost everybody. Why should your company continue to pay for an excellent health care plan for retirees or current employees when the government does it for free? A company program that you liked could be replaced with a less personal and friendly system. The doctors you knew and trusted could be replaced overnight, disrupting your continuity of health care and treatment. Wage earners will see the value of their negotiated labor contracts fall in value with universal coverage, because part of the fringe benefits built into your total compensation paid for a superior health care plan.

In places like Canada where socialized medicine already exists, people wait a long time for what we consider routine operations and procedures. They may die waiting for their turn to get the treatment they need, which might more easily be procured in a country with free market health care. Canadians living near the border of the U.S. come here for operations they can’t get in a timely manner in their own country.

Of course the obvious impetus for universal health care is to protect the poor person who has a catastrophic medical crisis. But don’t we have plans such as medicaid, and state medical assistance programs to pay for medical care for people who are destitute? This is an area where religious organizations and charities should flex their altruistic muscle. The desire to aid the poverty striken should not be yoked to a “one size fits all” tunnel vision mentality.

Middle class individuals might benefit from health savings accounts that reduce expenses by using low premium catastrophic coverage, combined with a savings account that pays nominal and moderate health care expenses. I believe that we could allow tax credits for money put into these plans, since they offset the costs that would otherwise be paid by the government in a universal system.

One idea which I find fascinating is the “shared liability co-op’s.” One such Christian organization that administers this type of program is known as Medi-Share. For a monthy fee far lower than traditional health care, and an agreement not to engage in certain destructive life-styles, Christians are able to procure funds from a pool of contributers to pay for unaffordable health care expenses. Why couldn’t other ideologicaly like-minded groups do the same thing? This is a great way to keep the government out of the business of coercing charity from its citizens.

Social justice is not the eternal dispensing of benefit rights. Compassion is not the act of stealing from some to acquire the political pratronage of the masses. Ultimately, we have to ask where the government gets the constitutional authority to foist this type of system on its citizens, much less, force them to pay for it.

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