43 million Americans are “without healthcare” according to the latest Kerry ad. I think he (since he approved the message) means that 43 million Americans pay cash, make payments or rely on other methods to purchase health care that are closer to the way we buy food, houses and cars than to the way Kerry wants us to buy healthcare.
I’m one of those 43 million without insurance. I’m not without health care. Just took my wife to the doctor in fact. Here are the biggest obstacles to my getting health care:
1. Too much money in the system. More money chasing the same amount of goods results in inflation. Every year funding for health care at the federal and state level goes up. Every year more seasoned citizens begin having more health problems and their needs are paid by the virtually unlimited entitlement purse of Medicare.
2. Fewer doctor hours. More money is actually chasing fewer goods as it becomes less productive for doctors to spend more time doctoring. There’s a triple whammy here: malpractice insurance, higher marginal tax rates at the top and higher inflation in the medical sector. The higher medical sector inflation means that ‘indexing’ doesn’t keep doctor’s tax brackets from suffering inflation creep. If the doctor is looking at giving half of the extra dollar he earns to Uncle Sam, his incentive to earn it is diminished compared to, for example, giving 25%.
3. Higher costs for equipment. I would be glad to get 1950s standard care unless I have cancer or need an organ transplant. If I have strep throat or a broken leg, my doctor doesn’t need to give me an MRI. Of course, in any industry there’s a tendency to want the newest gadget, but this is usually driven by cost cutting, not by a regulatory environment where doctors who offered no-frills medicine to the working stiff would be accused of cutting corners.
4. Higher cost in legal arena. Democrat trial lawyers and runaway juries have created a situation where doctors are facing ridiculous malpractice premiums. Frankly, we need a much simpler system. First, if the doctor doesn’t do the job, the insurance companies shouldn’t pay them and the law should protect the consumer from having to pay. They shouldn’t be able to collect if they botch the job. Second, if they botch it badly, they should lose their licenses. There’ s just no reason that a doctor slammed with a multimillion award who actually deserved it should still be in business, but the system allows it and the malpractice insurance system spreads the cost to the good doctors.
Here’s the thing. Any solution John Kerry might propose won’t hit at the core of any of these problems and is very likely to make all 4 worse. He will bring more people into government paid plans (problem 1), raise marginal tax rates (problem 2) and protect his trial lawyer friends from tort reform (problem 4). I can only assume that he will resent those few doctors who refuse to take Medicare/Medicaid and provide low cost service outside that system (solution to problem 3); whether that will lead to any action against them I don’t know, but they sure don’t fit the Kerry model of more government.
Anyway, Mr. Kerry as one of the 43 million I say, please keep your healthcare plan.
Ah, I rambled on and on. Ronnie the Raygun would have put it much more succinctly: “Government is not the solution to the problem, government is the problem.”