Can liberals and libertarians find common ground on health care solutions?
01:30 pm – What is worse: socialized medicine or fascist medicine?
With the democrats retaking congress socialized medicine (er, “universal healthcare”) will once again take the center stage. While I certainly expect the far left to spew more rhetoric, I do not expect them to come anywhere close to passing a major health reform bill.
This year, I’m much more worried about the healthcare proposal coming from right-wing groups like the Heritage Foundation and Newt Gingrich’s Center for Health Transformation. The proposal is to legislatively mandate that everyone must buy health insurance and adds subsidies for families under the three times the federal poverty level ($60,000 per year for a family of four). This proposal is already law in Massachusetts, and California is considering adapting it as well.
The rub of the matter:
I think we all want a health care system that is broadly accessible. Rather than focusing on how to generate an accessible system, let’s change the focus on eliminating barriers to access. Of all the barriers to access I could name, the biggest barrier is employer provided health insurance.
After all, isn’t the root of the problem the fact that health insurance is tied to employment? This places all of the power in the hands of corporate managers, who decide whom will receive what benefits, if any at all. Health benefits are lost when people change jobs, reducing mobility, and the self-employed and chronically unemployed are often unable to obtain insurance. Health benefits are subject the budgeting whims of managers, who are increasing using cost sharing and reducing benefits to meet budgets.
The post details how WWII wage controls led to adoption of benefits as a proxy for raises, which in turn were made tax-exempt by Congress after the war. Later, this led to a price spiral in health care costs, eventually leading to the mess we have today.
To see how government started to created this problem even earlier, see
Which details how the AMA-created monopoly on occupational licensing served to destroy alternative medicine and innovation, and to close the ranks of the medical profession to women, non-whites, and the poor for decades while limiting supply of services and raising prices.
Health Care Issues: A Compendium of Posts by Kevin Carson.