Next on the Statists’ Menu: Health Care

May 14, 2009

Since Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign, proponents of socialized medicine have bombarded us with nonstop demagoguery about the 40 million-plus uninsured to create a crisis mentality sufficient to catalyze sweeping “reforms.” Their efforts didn’t stand much of a chance until the advent of the pseudocrisis-exploiting administration of President Barack Obama, which never met a “crisis” it couldn’t leverage.

The number of uninsured people is grossly misleading. Just because you are uninsured doesn’t mean you have no access to medical care. And just because you are insured under universal systems doesn’t mean you will receive care.

If you don’t think the administration is parlaying the crisis angle, then you must have missed the feigned urgency in Obama’s declarations that “reform” must be completed this year.

Obama wasn’t kidding when he promised fundamental change. With him, many big things must happen, and they must happen yesterday, for he knows he has a finite window of time available to effectuate his mischief before people finally awaken to the horrors of the Obama hurricane.

What about this 47 million uninsured figure we’ve heard so much about — thanks to the Clintons, Michael Moore and armies of George Soros disciples?

With the left, which forever complains about the religious right’s moralizing, it’s always a moral issue. Hillary Clinton said, “It’s really indefensible that we now have more than 45 million uninsured Americans, 9 million of whom are children, and the vast majority of whom are from working families.”

But did you know that, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report, more than 10 million of these “uninsured” are not American citizens? That almost 18 million, with annual incomes exceeding $50,000, can afford health insurance but choose not to buy it? That more than half of those 18 million people make more than $75,000? That about 19 million of the uninsured are between 18 and 34 years old and may not consider coverage a pressing priority? That almost half the uninsured only remain without insurance for an average of four months? Without question, these figures overlap, but it’s safe to say that the left’s alleged number of truly uninsured is enormously overstated and distorted.

There is also a significant difference between being uninsured and having no access to health care. The law mandates emergency room care, even for those unable to afford it.

None of this matters to Obama and congressional Democrats, who are ideologically hellbent on socializing medicine. Their current health care plan would mandate coverage for everyone and would include federal aid to help families earning up to $88,000 a year pay for insurance.

$88,000? Tell me this isn’t about redistributing income more than helping the poor who genuinely can’t afford insurance.

The sad reality is that the social planners, as usual, are prescribing exactly the wrong solutions. The main problem with soaring health care costs is not too much free market, but too little; it’s not too little government control, but too much. As the brilliant Thomas Sowell tells us in his book “Applied Economics,” “Only 13 percent of Americans’ medical care costs are paid for directly out of pocket,” which gives us an indication of how little market forces are at work in the system.

But Sowell’s more sobering observation is that government-provided care is inevitably an exercise in price control. Price controls don’t eliminate costs; they just make some of them less visible in the short run. “Artificially lower prices, created by government order rather than supply and demand, encourage more use of goods or services, while discouraging the production of those same goods and services. Increased consumption and reduced production mean a shortage.”

This will lead — bank on it — to quality deterioration “because the incentives to maintaining quality are lessened by price control.” When demand for health care (or anything else) exceeds supply, suppliers/providers have no incentive to accommodate customers. Government planners who engineer such “remedies” as price controls per doctor visit can brag about reducing the cost per visit, but they will cause a shortening of the time per visit, which will prolong the patient’s time under care and actually increase the total cost of care.

The scarcity will lead to waiting lists, increases in illnesses and death from the inadequacy and untimeliness of care. It will lead to rationing and decisions made by Big Brother’s heartless bureaucrats as to who gets health care at all.

These are axiomatic economic principles that guarantee the failure of socialized medicine — principles that have been validated by every nation foolish enough to try it and by the government-run programs in our increasingly socialized United States of America.

But none of this will deter the government-run health care crusaders, whose motivation is not compassion for the uninsured or the quality or costs of health care, but government control of another one-seventh of this nation’s economy.

Are we going to continue to let them destroy our nation without a fight?