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Health care reform needs definition

Posted: August 30, 2009 10:23 p.m.
Updated: August 31, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
When we talk about health care reform, we have to define exactly what we mean by using the term.

If by "reform" we mean removing government-imposed obstacles in order to allow a more competitive free-market private-sector environment, then I'm all for it.

For example, allowing insurance companies to compete in all markets nationwide, without heed to state borders, strikes me as a good thing.

Removing barriers to increased free-market competition is Basic Economics 101.

In the news on Aug. 26, (Associated Press, "Health care overhaul"), it seems Obama has finally realized that his plan to turn our entire health insurance industry into a government-run adjunct to Medicare and the Veterans' Administration system, the single-payer plan is falling into ruins at his feet.

He's open to the alternative of co-ops that are independently operated, purportedly abandoning his dedication to the single-payer approach.

If by "co-ops" we're talking about the insurance industry equivalent of what credit unions are to the banking industry, I have no problem with this idea. As a matter of fact, this plan already exists.

For example, Sears doesn't use outside vendors to provide health insurance to its employees. It self-insures, which is essentially a co-op operated for the benefit of Sears employees. Many large companies do exactly this.

On the other hand, if were talking about co-ops wherein the government would still step in and use taxpayer dollars to pay the premiums of poor people, especially if participation is mandated, then this is simply the single-payer program in stealth mode.

There are three repugnant aspects of the single-payer plan: government funding, loss of the individual's autonomy on issues of his
 own health care, and any mandate that people participate at all if they choose to not do so. Any program that moves forward must avoid all of these aspects.

If the current national debate moves from single-payer and public option - meaning supplied by the government at taxpayer expense - to co-op, it's going to become extremely important to keep a very wary eye on just exactly what that means.

If co-ops are nothing more than government-operated and funded programs, then this is nothing more than another cynical manipulation of language, just as taxes have become fees and contributions.

Some important facts to be aware of: According to the most recent Gallup poll on the topic in November 2007, 83 percent of Americans rated the health care they receive as excellent or good, and 70 percent rated their health care coverage (insurance) as excellent or good.

This is reinforced by other polls, including one by Fox News which also reveal another very fascinating bit of information: Only 8.4 million of the uninsured are dissatisfied with their health care in any way.

Wait a second! I thought there were 40 million or so people who were being left out in the cold. What happened?

I guess our system is already set up to take care of the uninsured through emergency rooms, charitable organizations and other existing options.

There is no crisis. This whole issue has been manufactured out of thin air by nanny-staters to impose ever more control over everybody by Big Government.

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