*gasp* Doctors Oppose Government Healt Care?

The American Medical Association is publicly coming out against the governments “public health care option.” The public health care option would be a government created, government controlled health insurance company that would “compete” with the 1,300 health care insurance companies to provide health care for those in America without it.

A few problems with that (I’ll first summarize what Karl Rove said in today’s Wall Street Journal):

  1. It’s unnecessary – 1300 companies is enough. 100 of those companies competed (one of which wasn’t the government) & shaved 41% off the Congressional Budget Offices projected cost for the Medicare drug benefit. Fair & Free competition serves everyone.
  2. It will undercut private insurance and cost you and I more. Rove states, “Medicare pays hospitals 71% and doctors 81% of what private insurers pay.” Governments pass on the difference to private companies, with each family left to “pay about $1,800 more a year for someone else’s health care as a result.” Many doctors limit the number of medicare patients they take because they can only be forced to do so much charity.
  3. A Government Option will cripple the private industry – The government already operates at nearly 20 to 30 percent lower than private companies can which would force most Americans onto the government option as businesses look to save costs and remove the headaches. Eventually, there will be no other option.
  4. The Government Option is WAY expensive – A major reason Medicare & medicaid (a prototype of the government health care system) are in such trouble is because they cost significantly more than originally expected. Any guesses why? There is no competition to force them to keep the price down. The same will happen to health insurance, but it has to be paid for somewhere. That remainder will come due every April 15th.
  5. Government will decide what care you get – “If you think insurance companies are bad, imagine what happens when government is the insurance carrier, with little or no competition and no concern you’ll change to another company.”

Rove’s points are a great synopsis of the problems with public health care. It’s also a big reason why 250,000 doctors are speaking out against a government run health care option. They know the implications, they know what will happen to health care.

Much of this is predicated on what I believe is a false pretense. The rhetoric is that these millions of Americans are walking around without health care, and I would challenge that assumption.

First, many of those millions of “uninsured” are employable people who are inbetween jobs. Those people had insurance 6 months ago, and they’ll have insurance 6 months from now. They are an interim demographic that is an easy way to pad the numbers. The 9.4% unemployment number is a revolving figure. Many of them were recently, and soon will be on the private insurance rolls again.

Second, there are approximately 22 million illegial immigrants in the United States right now, some portion of which are no doubt counted among the uninsured.

Third, among those uninsured are an increasing percentage who CHOOSE not to be insured. That’s not a problem that will be fixed by a government run option. The National Center for Policy Analysis cites the following:

  • From 1993 to 2000 the number of uninsured people in households with annual incomes above $75,000 increased by 63 percent and the number in households with annual incomes from $50,000 to $75,000 increased by 48.2 percent.
  • the number of uninsured people in households with incomes under $25,000 fell by 25 percent.
  • Almost one-third of the uninsured now live in households with annual incomes above $50,000

Finally, being turned down for medical care is a mythical event. Any person can walk into any emergency room in this country and they will be treated by the same doctor as any you or I would be treated by.

So the question is, what do we do about it? Well, it begins by returning to a Free Market Solution to the health care issue, one that gives doctors the right to deal with patients, and patients the right to control a portion of their own health care.

Health care is a sticky situation, a mess that we made over a long period of time and we won’t be able to unmake for a long period of time. What it requires is an eye toward the long term benefit of the majority of Americans, which can only be built on tried & true principles. Nowhere in the world has a socialized medical system provided the level of care that the American system has. It is broken, and in need of repair, but it is not worth throwing to the dogs, er, government.

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