The American healthcare system is broken. Something is certainly wrong when a simple appendectomy, in one day, out the next, with no difficulties or complications, costs nearly $22,000.
It is not President Obama's fault. We can't blame Bush II, Clinton, Bush I, Reagan, Carter, or any other president before him. It is neither the fault of the present Congressmen and state legislators nor any of their predecessors. They are all simply politicians, and politicians always do whatever they can get away with and still get reelected. The present dysfunctional system is the fault of every person who believes that government can interfere with markets with impunity with no ill effects on the people. Prices are unbelievably high because subsidizing the demand for goods and services and artificially restricting the supply by law and regulation naturally and inevitably leads to high prices. There is almost no area which is not incredibly distorted by the planning and control apparatus of federal and state health bureaucrats and politicians, which brings us to an interesting observation.
When markets are free to adjust without interference from meddling politicians, there is an inevitable chain of events. When a clever, new technology or procedure is created by some entrepreneurial spirit, the prices are high. Only the wealthy can afford them. As time goes by, the kinks are worked out and competitors try to get a piece of the profitable action. The increasing supply ultimately drives down the cost to the point where it becomes affordable for the ordinary consumer. The evidence for this happening in every sector of free markets is overwhelming. There is, in fact, evidence for it in one of the few sectors of the healthcare markets which remain reasonably free.
Lasik eye surgery hit the mainstream a decade and a half ago, and it now enjoys the highest patient satisfaction ratings of any surgery. Some early adopters paid something on the order of $5,000 per eye. It is now a fraction of that, with some advertised prices of $695, in spite of a 45 percent general price inflation over the time period. For most people, the near-miraculous recovery of clear vision is now a matter of a few paychecks, a price for which many people would find it well worth pinching their pennies.
The other side, with astronomical inflation in prices, is where most participants in medical markets are subsidized or are insulated by health plans from the direct costs of procedures, where everyone has a right to everything, including all the latest Cadillac equipment and procedures, where market suppliers and the products and services they offer are restricted by policy makers with an agenda, and where insurance is forced to cover uninsurable risks. High price is no coincidence.
There is another, more-important facet which demands recognition. Government management of healthcare is central planning of a significant percentage of the economy. The implication of government mandates, rules, and laws is that they must be enforced. Ultimately, the only way they can do that is by the use, or the threat of the use, of the barrel of a gun. Non-cooperation cannot be tolerated and must be punished in order for the regime to be implemented. Central planning of any type is incompatible with freedom and has no place in a free society.
The present health plan was sold to the American people with lies and distortion. The economic reality is that everyone cannot have everything for free. Someone has to pay for it, but there is not enough wealth and productivity in society to maintain infinite demand. Rationing of healthcare is inevitable, though it may be called a less offensive, politically-correct name. The hypocrites in Washington recognize the inherent contradictions in the plan and have found a way to exempt themselves and many of their supporters from the draconian measures it contains. You, however, are not exempt.
Obamacare is based on the same pattern used by such notables as Hitler, Stalin, and Mao. Nationalized healthcare is a necessary ingredient for a modern totalitarian state. It is also notable that those same historical shining stars also thought it necessary to have strict gun control. What a coincidence. No sense having a police state when the peasants can shoot back. Whether in the US or the USSR, state control of markets, especially the healthcare markets, is antagonistic to individual liberty. It is past time to repeal national healthcare and the welfare state before it buries us, as it has done and is presently doing to nations all over the world.
Dan McLaughlin is a columnist for The Post Journal. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.