Facts show market-based health care less efficientMy Republican friend has made the classic conservative argument on health care. In short, he argues we should continue to provide health care under a “market” model and move away from (what he labels) a “socialist” model. In case you’ve been under a rock lately — efforts to provide health care to more Americans is evil socialism; “Obamacare” for short.
By: By Dan Hannula, Superior Telegram
My Republican friend has made the classic conservative argument on health care. In short, he argues we should continue to provide health care under a “market” model and move away from (what he labels) a “socialist” model. In case you’ve been under a rock lately — efforts to provide health care to more Americans is evil socialism; “Obamacare” for short.
My Republican friend cites for support his opinion that Americans have the best health care in the world. Moreover, he argues, our attempts to move away from a market-based system has given us runaway inefficiency and fraud in Medicare, Medicaid and myriad state programs such a SCHIP.
Is health care better provided through the market? Why would that be true? Quite simply, the argument goes, the profit motive optimizes care and minimizes costs. End of story.
Well, before I confess the sins of my Democratic views, let me just raise a few thoughts on health care. Yes, some Americans have the best medical care in the world. But, not all of us share in that. More than 50 million Americans have no health care at all.
Is Medicare inefficient and fraud prone? Should we adopt Congressman’s Ryan’s plan to repeal Medicare along with Obama’s health plan? Well, as John Adams once said: “Facts are stubborn things.”
Yes, Medicare spending is going up. It rose 400 percent in the last 40 years. But private health insurance rose 700 percent in that same period, according to Nobel prize-winning economist Paul Krugman.
We spend twice as much as other advanced nations — $8,160 per capita — and still perform worse on life expectancy, infant mortality and immunization rates. Moreover, those nations provide universal coverage.
We leave 50 million uninsured and millions inadequately insured.
Moreover, insurance bureaucracies eat up more health care dollars than Medicare. The Congressional Budget Office found that for-profit insurers had an 11 percent overhead, compared to 2 percent for Medicare. Some estimates put private insurance overhead as high as 30 percent. When you see the next TV commercial for Claritin, remember that American drug companies spend more on marketing than research. So much for the theory a market-based health system performs better.
Oh yes, and what about fraud? Do you suppose those crooked doctors who try to cheat Medicare, don’t try to cheat Blue Cross? Come on. Get real. It’s that Blue Cross can pass on the cost of cheaters to those of us who pay premiums and Medicare can’t.
Perhaps my Republican friend is partly correct. Maybe more free market activity in the area of health care would be a good thing. For example, we could repeal laws that forbid the selling of kidneys. That would open up a needed supply of healthy organs and also give poor folks some needed cash to pay health insurance premiums — a market-based win/win formula. Then we can start privatizing our public school system — Governor Walker is making a good start there. Sometimes the market doesn’t solve all problems. Sometimes we compete and sometimes we act like a community.
Dan Hannula is a member of the Douglas County Democratic Party.