Monday, June 15, 2009

And we'll go in there, Dr. Stein style ...

From today's Times: Obama Tries To Woo Doctors On Health Care. I've written very little on all the new and various proposals on health care that have been making the rounds in the news cycle in part because I've been busy, but also because I've probably beaten the health care discussion to death on this blog. I know I've made my thoughts clear: That our system sucks in numerous ways, mostly because of the effects of government policy, and that any health care reforms should be market oriented. And obviously, that's not where we seem to be headed.

Perhaps what's most galling about President Obama's words on the subject is the endless, two-fold drum beat that government can do better and we can do better individually. Solving "the health care problem" is supposedly as simple as the government dictating more efficiency (as if private industry has no interest in efficiency) and each and everyone of us just leading healthier lives.

I've reached the point where the obvious government leap into health care seems inevitable, so my thoughts now are about what would be the least disastrous. Noting the 40 million (or whatever the number is) of uninsured Americans, I wondered why we can't just have the government provide health insurance to those who don't have it. The fact that such a solution is both politically and practically unfeasible is fairly indicative of how meaningless that number is in the first place. There are plenty of relatively poor people who have health insurance and plenty of relatively high earners who do not and there's no way- repeat, no way- to insure each and every American without the government providing coverage for all or mandating coverage for all. And the obvious problem of government provided coverage without restriction is that most people would opt for government provided care and pocket the extra savings in their paychecks.

The real debate, the one that always gets lost in the fight over health care is that over the rights of individuals. Do we have the right to make decisions on health care for ourselves or will the needs of society as a whole dictate our individual choices? Some liberals may take umbridge at that statement, but mandating health insurance is dictating individual choices. Either you let individuals make choices or you don't ... and everything I hear from the Obama administration seems to hint we're going in the wrong direction.


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