Thursday, July 12, 2007

National Healthcare Insurance = Socialized Medicine

Following is a letter to the editor I submitted to my local newspaper in response to a letter advocating for John Conyers' HR 676, "The United States National Healthcare Insurance Act":

In a letter to the editor published recently, Mr. James Montgomery expressed a desire to hear from someone who does not support Socialist Healthcare in America. I'm pleased to grant his wish.

Let's be clear about terminology, here. Mr. Montgomery has written to support HR 676, a bill titled "The United States National Healthcare Insurance Act". This bill isn't just about insurance, however. The minute the government becomes the only payer of healthcare bills in America, the healthcare system has been nationalized. The U.S. government would set the prices, decide what procedures and treatments can and can't be performed, and control access to all healthcare. Enacting a single payer system is exactly equivalent to enacting Socialized Medicine in America.

Mr. Montgomery's letter purported to impart some "frightening facts" in support of his contention that government bureaucracy should control and ration the delivery of healthcare services in the United States. Let's address them each in turn:

1) "At least 18,000 Americans die each year from lack of healthcare coverage." - I challenge the supporters of Socialized Medicine to name just one person who has died because they were unable to receive medical treatment as a result of not having healthcare coverage. Just ONE. As we are all well aware, it is illegal for any hospital emergency room to refuse treatment to a patient because they are unable to pay. This is a bogus, unsupported statistic that is patently false.

2) "80 percent of Americans who lack healthcare coverage are families with one or more jobs." - Leaving aside the confusion in this statement regarding whether we're discussing individual Americans or American families, one has to ask: 'What point are you trying to make?'. I would expect its reasonable to assume that at least 80% of any randomly selected sample of American families has "one or more jobs".

3) "More than 50% of bankruptcies occur due to medical bills..." - Again, I ask, 'What point are you trying to make?'. Perhaps Mr. Montgomery would prefer that half of all bankruptcies occur due to identify theft? Maybe bankruptcies due to expenses from frivolous lawsuits are better, in Mr. Montgomery's eyes? The best healthcare in the world can sometimes be expensive, particularly in cases of catastrophic illness or injury. If anything, Socialized Medicine will lead to many, many more bankruptcies, as our taxes go through the roof to pay for the inevitable bureaucratic inefficiency and steep decline in availability and quality of healthcare services.

4) "Of all the nations, the U.S. spends the most on healthcare..." - This is an easy one. You get what you pay for. The United States has the best healthcare system in the world. People from around the world come here to receive top-notch care. Nationalized healthcare insurance would LOWER the quality of healthcare in America substantially, and INCREASE the costs. Ask yourself when you ever observed a government program and said to yourself: 'What a well-run, efficient, cost-effective program!'. I suspect you never have, nor have I.

5) "...the U.S. has the highest rate of people who believe their healthcare system should be reformed." - There's nothing about this statistic (assuming for the sake of argument that its true) that supports Mr. Mongomery's position. This only shows that people want a change; not what type of change they want. Count me as as one of those who strongly believe that the healthcare system should be reformed. We need to de-couple health insurance from employment, and re-introduce market efficiencies into the system by giving the individual to ability to shop for their healthcare services. Healthcare Savings Accounts are a fantastic example of how Americans can re-take control of their medical services.

6) "The spiraling costs of healthcare are negatively impacting American businesses..." - Yet another argument in favor of de-coupling healthcare coverage from employment, and putting the control back in the hands of individual Americans. This isn't in any way an argument for Socialized Healthcare. In fact, its an argument against, as the inevitable spike in taxes will have a much more negative effect on businesses than the healthcare expenses they're currently experiencing.

So there you go, Mr. Montgomery. I DON'T support HR 676 because I don't trust politicians to make my medical decisions. I DON'T support HR 676 because I've never met a government program that was efficient and well-run. I DON'T support HR 676 because I've never seen the government reduce costs for anything. I DON'T support HR 676 because it would destroy patient incentives to find the best possible prices and treatments. I DON'T support HR 676 because it would destroy physician incentives to provide competitive services and prices, and would destroy pharmaceutical companies' incentive to develop new drugs and treatments. I DON'T support HR 676 because it would result in stealing from your wallet to pay MY healthcare costs. I DON'T support HR 676 because it would inevitably lead to the deterioration of healthcare services in the United States.