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What You Get With Free Health Care

What You Get With Free Health Care
By: Janice Shaw Crouse - 3/26/2010

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Most of the arguments supporting the health care reform bill just passed by the Democrats in Congress were myths. These myths were exposed as early as 2008 in a book by Sally C. Pipes, president and CEO of the Pacific Research Institute. Her funny little book skewers everything we’ve heard via the ObamaCare demagoguery. Others, since then, have been equally devastating to the arguments used to ram through ObamaCare.

In fact, the so-called miracles sold by today’s health care hucksters are about as real as those sold by the shysters of old.

However, most Americans see through the political spin, and they are not buying the snake oil. Vision is much clearer outside the Beltway. Further, as John Adams once said, “Facts are stubborn things.” This week, four different polls (Quinnnipiac, Bloomberg, CNN and CBS) show the same result: less than 40 percent of Americans approve of the health care bill that the President just signed. Numerous states are concerned about the way ObamaCare infringes on individual rights. In addition, there are significant constitutional questions about requiring citizens to purchase health insurance or pay a penalty. Many state attorneys general are noting that ObamaCare is the first time Americans would be forced to buy a good or service.

All of that didn’t matter to those determined to see their utopian ideology enacted into legislation. Congressional Democrats, disregarding the will of the people and dressing their action in high-sounding rhetoric, rammed through Congress their unpopular and disastrous plan for “transforming” America into a Cuban, British, Canadian or French image.

One of the prime arguments used to sell ObamaCare was that it would reverse the financial crisis and save the country a gazillion dollars – with benefits beginning in its first year. Sadly, somebody’s arm got twisted to produce Congressional Budget Office (CBO) figures – nicely timed for the House vote – to supposedly back up the Democrats’ arguments. Nobody seemed to understand that the CBO figures were just estimates. Yet, as they say, the devil is in the details. The CBO details clearly indicate that having the government’s role expanded to provide universal coverage will significantly increase costs, as well as premiums and taxes. Worse, the CBO notes that most of the current costs of the U.S. world-class health care are from providing new, cutting-edge treatments and ever-expanding medical technologies. They add, “Given the central role of medical technology in cost growth, reducing or slowing spending over the long term would probably require decreasing the pace of adopting new treatments and procedures or limiting the breadth of their application.”

How’s that for dispelling the claims that quality will remain high, rationing won’t happen, and technology will continue to expand while costs go down? The real life record of government control is a long way from matching the soaring rhetoric that has dominated the media coverage of the health care debate. Further, in those countries where massive government intervention has replaced free market enterprise, the reality is far short of the utopian promises and the policies that have been spun out so recklessly and misleadingly. Price controls, inevitably, limit innovation. If that happens to medical research and technological advancement, the results will be disastrous.

Everybody wants affordable, accessible, and high-quality health care; there are proposals on the table for changes that would make significant improvements in those aspects of U.S. health care. Those proposals would unleash free market competition, improve quality, and lower costs for health care in the same way that it has done for other national industries and businesses. A study by PricewaterhouseCoopers found that American health care is very efficient, with only six percent of the premiums going to administrative costs and fully 86 percent covering the actual costs of care.

But cost control is not the purpose of ObamaCare. ObamaCare is all about redistributing wealth and putting a vast segment of the economy under bureaucratic control – some estimates of health care spending run as high as 20 percent of the U.S. economy by 2016.

Under ObamaCare, Uncle Sam becomes Santa Claus. But sooner or later, the bills come in and all those “gifts” turn out to be pretty expensive after all.

Right now, the U.S. has the “world’s best cancer survival rates” – Sally Pipes reported that Americans “have a better survival rate for 13 of the 16 most common cancers” – a fact most appreciated by those victims and their families who benefit from the expensive drugs that result from years-long research and clinical trials. Most Americans are personally satisfied with their own private health insurance coverage and appreciate the medical advances that save lives and provide miracle cures. Others, too, depend upon American health care. Tens of thousands of foreigners come to the United States for treatments not available or rationed in their home countries.

Most Americans are also aware and appreciate the fact that government-funded programs already provide for those Americans who are truly poor. Hospitals are not allowed to refuse treatment to those without insurance. Medicare, Medicaid, and other special programs for children, veterans, and specific population groups provide care for those with special needs. Nobody claims that these government-run programs provide the quality of care that those with private insurance enjoy. In fact, the false promise of something for nothing – the utopian scheme of everybody having top-quality health care coverage and it not costing anybody any more than they are currently paying – is the biggest myth of all. Sally Pipes quoted P.J. O’Rourke, “If you think health care is expensive now, just wait until it’s free.”

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