Backward on Health Care

This one’s going to be very short, also.

There’s a big problem with the way the health-care debate in this country is being framed by both Republicans and Democrats. Maybe it’s the way the media reports it, but nevertheless, the main problem in health care is cost.

When anyone talks about health care, they talk first about insuring the uninsured and expanding coverage, and cost considerations come at the end of the list. They’re always the last things to be considered, and that’s what’s killing America. That isn’t going to change regardless of who runs the system if the problem isn’t reconsidered.

Unless this country moves the COST of health care to the front of the priority list, none of the other goals are achievable over the medium to long term, even assuming you believe in them. We’re approaching the problem from the wrong end, because if the costs could be controlled and if they actually shrunk for a few years instead of relentlessly expanding at a hyperinflational rate, we could afford to insure more people. Businesses could insure more people, and individuals could insure themselves more easily.

We can’t begin to address the problems of health care in America unless reducing the cost of care and the growth of that cost is made the first priority, not the last. It’s like offering universal automobile insurance with liability coverage in a state where half the people are stealing each other’s cars and smashing them up on joy rides.

We keep spending more and more money on it, just as we do with education, and a great deal of it continues to be wasted. More will be wasted — vastly more — if the cart continues to get placed before the horse. In the end, the government will spend more money rationing care to people if the costs aren’t reduced. That’s all I have to say about health care for now.