Just Say “NO” to Socialized Medicine

I understand that the federal government wishes to “fix” health care, just like it has “fixed” education, poverty and the economy, just to name a few. I hope instead that Congress and the administration will realize that more of the same is just nuts.

National Health Care Expenditures (NHE) for 2007 totaled $2.2 trillion, 16.23% of GDP, triple the 5.23% of GDP in 1960 and is growing at an average annual rate of 8.7%, more than double the average inflation rate of 4.2%. This represents $7,421 per person as compared to $148 in 1960. Prior to the late 1940's, health care costs were flat and insignificant at less than 4% of personal consumption expenditures. Since then it has quadrupled to 17.71% (2008) and has been our largest (and fastest growing) expenditure since 1992 surpassing even food. Many forecast that health care will consume 20% of our GDP in the near future. It is a primary cause of financial ruin. WHY?

I submit that the blame can be laid squarely on government intrusion. Here's how I got there. (For the sake of argument, we will ignore that pesky little issue of Constitutional authority.)

Since 1960:

  • Government has spent $13.3 trillion (including $9.3 trillion in Federal funds) on health care. To say that $13.3 trillion over 47 years can distort any market is a gross understatement.
  • Government share of the NHE has practically doubled from 24.7% to 46.2%, from $37 to $3,429 per person and has grown at an average annual rate of 10.3%, 2 times the inflation rate.
  • Federal share of the NHE has tripled from 10.4% to 33.7%, from $15 to $2.498 per person and has grown at an average annual rate of 11.8%, nearly 3 times the rate of inflation.

Obviously, $13.3 trillion in adulterated demand for health care is certainly cause enough for our dismal situation but there are other issues, policies and regulations that “pile on” including:

  • Health care is not a “right”. A “right” does not require the skill or resources of another. I think some call it “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. No one has a “right” to health care any more than they have a right to a jet-ski.
  • Insurance. For some reason no discourse on health care can begin or proceed without insurance as the primary issue. I beg to differ. Insurance has no place in health care. To include it in a discussion of socialized health care is laughable. Insurance is the transfer of risk of loss from one party to another in exchange for a premium and duty of care. The risk of loss is such that one would not inflict it upon themselves. (Insurance fraud). This is why we all purchase auto, home, renters or liability insurance (to name just a few) with little complaint. We purchase and the insurer sells those policies with both hoping they will never be needed. Tell me again, why do we purchase health insurance?
  • Employer provided health care. Why is the employer responsible for the health care of the employee?
  • Why must anyone, against thier will, provide for those who CHOOSE to abuse themselves? Why must anyone, against thier will, provide for optional procedures? With demands like “Employers Paying For Sex Transition Procedures” then, what IS health care and who decides?
  • H.S.A.'s, Flexible Spending Accounts and other tax incentives only serve to further distort health care demand and reduce tax revenues (Oh My!). If HSA's are so great then why can't everybody have one? Why must they be attached to a high-deductible “insurance” policy? Could it be that the insurer has more to gain than the consumer? (See “Insurance” above). Salting money away that MUST be spent on health care, (especially those with “use it or lose it” terms) not only distorts demand for health care, but also distorts demand for investments.

Prior to the end of World War II health care costs were flat and insignificant at less than 4% of personal expenditures. I understand that during WWII, employers provided health care as a method to side-step wage controls. Since that time, government seems to have done everything it can to further corrupt the industry. After 47 years and $13 trillion, what have we gained? Are we living longer? Yes, but at what cost and quality of life? Are we healthier? If so, this great debate would not be happening. Is 47 years and $13 trillion not enough to justify a return to freedom and common sense?

Sources:

Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA)-GDP Tables

Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)-Historical CPI

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)-Historical Expenditure Data

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)-Health Expenditures Downloadable ZIP file


Angier is self-employed in agri-business and can be reached at chuckangier@gmail.com