A Vision for America, Part VI

Problems and Solutions

I have already noted some of the genuine problems we face as a people. Our entitlement programs are on the financial rocks. Prices at the pump are increasing. Our school systems are not making the grade. Many Americans, for a variety of reasons, are not receiving proper medical care. And our federal bank account is trillions of dollars in the red. Challenges like these require serious – and creative – solutions.

Unfortunately, there is nothing new in the left’s propositions. Our current president’s fiercest supporters are carpenters who know how to use hammers but have forgotten how to use screwdrivers and jigsaws. Consider healthcare. Politicians on both sides of the political spectrum agree that our current system isn’t perfect. But the left, alas, has hit upon yet another government-centered solution to our healthcare woes: Let’s appoint a panel of Washington-based experts to come up with ways to cut costs and increase access. Yes! That’s the ticket! But when has this ever worked in the past? When have the pronouncements of a bureaucratic body ever prompted a more efficient distribution of resources? A bureaucrat in Washington is not going to know how much it really costs for Dr. Simchat to run his rheumatology practice in Kansas. The only thing such a government official can do is set artificially “fair” price ceilings — and price ceilings generally lead to shortages.

There are other ways to reduce costs. For example, it is a documented fact that mandates drive up the price of health insurance. Motivated interest groups have urged politicians to write state laws obligating insurance companies to cover a whole host of tests, procedures, and services, and many are purely elective. A number of states, for example, mandate coverage of in-vitro fertilization, an expensive procedure that results in no real medical benefit. Now, individually, each of these mandates has a minimal impact on health insurance premiums, but together, they add up. Perhaps it is time to loosen some of these regulations. As it stands, many localities are asking everyone to purchase a medical Cadillac when many would be happy with a sensible Toyota. In particular, there are many young, healthy Americans out there who have elected not to purchase health insurance for a very rational reason: they can already pay for their routine medical care out of pocket and therefore don’t consider a health plan with an expensive premium to be worth the bother. For these Americans, a catastrophic-only plan should be an option.

(To be continued…)

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