The carnage to be caused by the Republican health care bill will likely go down as a major American disaster. Even before dis-enrolling tens of millions, life expectancy has been falling in some sectors of the U.S.
These statements seem incontrovertible:
- Prevention is cheaper than cure.
- Early treatment is cheaper than later treatment.
- Doctor’s office treatment is much cheaper than emergency room treatment.
- Contagious diseases cause negative externalities—one potential reason for government involvement.
- Health care transactions have many of the characteristics that produce other market failures (see Ken Arrow)—another potential reason for government involvement.
- Conservatives such as Mitt Romney and Richard Nixon, and chameleons like Donald Trump, have advocated for something like universal health care.
America is the only developed country without universal health care. Even Hong Kong, often touted as the freest economy in the world, has universal health care operating alongside a private health system. Many health indicators are better as well, although data comparisons are sometimes misleading.
[Image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Life_expectancy_vs_healthcare_spending.jpg]
Virtually all such systems have much lower per patient costs than the hodge podge U.S. system with for-profit insurance and hospitals, because prevention, early treatment, the avoidance of emergency rooms, and other factors actually do matter.
In no way do I endorse the view that universal health care is a right. Nevertheless, it is a smart policy choice in the modern, high-income era. This ain’t Victorian England anymore.
The Republican plan to replace the Affordable Care Act will give large tax cuts to the wealthy and huge premium increases for the elderly. The proposed plan would make it more likely that healthy young people will bail out of the system, causing premiums in general to soar. There is a train wreck up the tracks, which may be the true aim of the plan.
Imagine the hugely popular Social Security Program with these new provisions: No young person need participate, or save at all, until the year of retirement. Then there’s a modest penalty to let you into the system!” How great and sustainable does that sound? (FYI, Social Security can reasonably be fixed with a few minor adjustments.)
Speaking of health care and the defunding of Planned Parenthood, an Instagram photo shows a piqued woman holding a sign: “Viagra is government funded ($41.6 m. per year). If pregnancy is God’s will, so is limp dick.”*
Good point. The men in Congress get free unlimited health care and subsidies for their Viagra. What else is important to the nation? What if a law required members of Congress to enjoy the same health care system they foist on the rest of us?
Mark White has argued eloquently on the other side of mandated health care. To find his numerous critiques, search this blog for “health care.”
*Thanks to Judy Reynolds for the link.