Government Gets Health Care Backward
By Doug Patton
September 14, 2009
Unable to successfully demonize our health care providers with nightmare scenarios about unnecessary tonsillectomies and amputations, the Obama administration now is desperately attempting to regain the magic of last year's campaign by persuading us to hate our insurance companies instead of our doctors. Hence, the new name for their monstrous socialist power grab: "health insurance reform."
Let us restate the obvious. Access to quality health care is denied to no one in the United States . Even the millions of illegal aliens, who should not even be here, get treated immediately in our hospitals, sometimes even getting preferential treatment over Americans. Callous HMO bureaucrats may arbitrarily refuse to pay for certain health care procedures, thereby forcing patients to consider other methods of payment. However, that is not the same thing as being denied treatment.
HMO indifference is a far cry from the heartlessness of a government bureaucrat who has the power to pronounce a death sentence by decreeing that the patient either must wait an unreasonable length of time for treatment or cannot have the treatment at all.
Obamacare supporters mocked Sarah Palin when she wrote about government "death panels," but that is exactly what they have in Great Britain . In a letter to The Daily Telegraph, a group of health care experts who care for the terminally ill claim that some patients are being wrongly judged as "close to death." Under National Health Service guidelines introduced across the United Kingdom "to help doctors and medical staff deal with dying patients," the experts claim that patients can be denied fluid and drugs and are put on continuous sedation until they die.
Can you say "Terri Schiavo?"
These alarmed British health experts warn that this approach "can mask the signs that the patient's condition is improving." This from the oldest national health care system on the planet, having been instituted by the British government in the 1940s. And the President of the United States wants us to believe that his government-run health care will be different?
The truth is that government is completely backward in its approach to the entire issue of health care. Take health insurance, for example. Instead of allowing Americans to buy health insurance across state lines, government forces us into a closed market within our individual states. Consequently, people in Connecticut must pay for hair transplants, while Californians cannot buy a health insurance policy that does not cover drug and alcohol counseling. Why? Because the government bureaucrats known as insurance commissioners, working in conjunction with the geniuses in our state legislatures, mandate what must be covered in the health insurance policies sold in each state. If ever an override of "state's rights" was justified, this is it!
Ask yourself why you can buy automobile insurance from a lizard in Chevy Chase, Maryland (the Geico Gecko), owned by a billionaire in Omaha, Nebraska (Warren Buffett), but you can't do the same thing with your health insurance.
Another issue government gets backward is in differentiating between ordinary and catastrophic health care. Think of how the system should work. High-deductible health insurance should be available at reasonable prices in case of catastrophic illness, while day-to-day medical expenses should be the responsibility of the individual.
Instead, what government programs tend to do is to so overload the system with the care of minor illnesses that catastrophic care ends up being rationed. It is that way everywhere in the world that national health care has been tried.
Ask Canadians about their system. Those who have been treated for something minor will tell you it is the greatest system in the world because they got treatment and never paid a dime for it. Then query the Canadians who have faced the nightmare of delays for a treatable cancer that becomes lethal while they are waiting. Ask those poor folks lying in government-run hospitals in Liverpool or London whether they would rather have their sniffles or their cancer treated. These people have two choices: come to the United States for the best health care in the world — or die.
Ask your senators, your congressman and your president if they intend to use the "public option" for themselves and their families. Then ask yourself if government is really the answer.
Doug Patton describes himself as a recovering political speechwriter who agrees with himself more often than not. His weekly columns are syndicated by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. Readers are encouraged to email him at firstname.lastname@example.org/or to follow him on Twitter at @Doug_Patton.