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Archive for July 23rd, 2009

Ann Coulter is a lawyer by training and a provacateur by profession, but her Townhall column on health care shows she has a very good grasp of economics. She does an excellent job of identifying how politicians have created the “third-party payer” problem that has so seriously undermined market forces:

All the problems with the American health care system come from government intervention, so naturally the Democrats’ idea for fixing it is more government intervention. This is like trying to sober up by having another drink. …We already have near-universal health coverage in the form of Medicare, Medicaid, veterans’ hospitals, emergency rooms and tax-deductible employer-provided health care — all government creations. So now, everyone expects doctors to be free. People who pay $200 for a haircut are indignant if it costs more than a $20 co-pay to see a doctor. The government also “helped” us by mandating that insurance companies cover all sorts of medical services, both ordinary — which you ought to pay for yourself — and exotic, such as shrinks, in vitro fertilization and child-development assessments — which no normal person would voluntarily pay to insure against. This would be like requiring all car insurance to cover the cost of gasoline, oil and tire changes — as well as professional car detailing, …As a result, a young, healthy person has a choice of buying artificially expensive health insurance that, by law, covers a smorgasbord of medical services of no interest to him … or going uninsured. People who aren’t planning on giving birth to a slew of children with restless leg syndrome in the near future forgo insurance — and then politicians tell us we have a national emergency because some people don’t have health insurance. The whole idea of insurance is to insure against catastrophes: You buy insurance in case your house burns down — not so you can force other people in your plan to pay for your maid. You buy car insurance in case you’re in a major accident, not so everyone in the plan shares the cost of gas. …Even two decades after the collapse of liberals’ beloved Soviet Union, they can’t grasp that it’s easier and cheaper to obtain any service provided by capitalism than any service provided under socialism. You don’t have to conjure up fantastic visions of how health care would be delivered in this country if we bought it ourselves. Just go to a grocery store or get a manicure. Or think back to when you bought your last muffler, personal trainer, computer and every other product and service available in inexpensive abundance in this capitalist paradise. Third-party payer schemes are always a disaster — less service for twice the price! If you want good service at a good price, be sure to be the one holding the credit card. Under “universal health care,” no one but government bureaucrats will be allowed to hold the credit card. Isn’t food important? Why not “universal food coverage”? If politicians and employers had guaranteed us “free” food 50 years ago, today Democrats would be wailing about the “food crisis” in America, and you’d be on the phone with your food care provider arguing about whether or not a Reuben sandwich with fries was covered under your plan. Instead of making health care more like the DMV, how about we make it more like grocery stores?

Too bad Republicans can’t be this articulate. But I guess that would require them to stop making the problem worse, as they did with their profligate Medicare expansion earlier this decade.

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