Posts Tagged ‘Health-Care’

Looking for Leadership in All the Wrong Places?

Monday, February 18th, 2013

Dr. Benjamin Carson

Last week, I brought you a video from the National Prayer Breakfast speech of Dr. Benjamin Carson.  His words were heartening in many respects, and many in conservative media leaped at the notion of his political potential as a candidate.  I thought at the time that it was a bit of a fad, and I was therefore surprised to see Hannity run a full hour-long show on FoxNews devoted to talking with Dr. Carson.  (You can see the full video, here in parts 1 and 2.) I am glad Hannity had him on because my own caution seemed justified by something Dr. Carson said.  As I listened to him address the question of health insurance, it struck me as odd that he sees an inherent conflict of interests between an insurance company seeking to make a profit and its customers seeking health coverage.  When I hear such things said, I often dismiss them as the vapid utterances of mindless politicians, but since Dr. Carson has been receiving so much press, including on this site, it’s time to address the matter.  What Dr. Carson the practitioner of health-care seems to think about insurance is a common misconception, and it offers one more reason why conservatives must be cautious in their choices of leaders.

Dr. Carson said on Hannity’s show that there exists an inherent conflict of interests between health insurance companies and their insured clients.  This is not true.  The actual conflict begins a good deal sooner in the process, and as I think you will see, exposes a wider misunderstanding of the problem.  Ask yourself this:  Who are the majority of purchasers of health insurance?  If you said “individuals,” you’re wrong by a mile.  The truth is that the largest purchasers of health insurance are institutions, including the Federal and states’ governments, and corporations.  The problem here is that the people who consume the service are not the people directly paying for it.  Any time you break the connection between the end user and the provider of goods and services, you effectively destroy likewise the natural market signaling that provides feedback in both directions.

As an example, imagine you are a smoker looking for health insurance.  If you were approaching insurance companies directly, they would undoubtedly quote you a price many times higher than the one they propose to a non-smoker.  Obese?  Same thing.  This would mean that as a matter of natural market forces, you would either amend your behaviors and condition, or you would bear the burden of higher prices.  Insurers would naturally consider everything about you in determining what they would charge for a policy, but perhaps more importantly, you would be free to shop for insurance among many providers.  This would act as a restraint upon overcharging, and would also cause them to offer special discounts if you lived an exceedingly healthy lifestyle.  In short, personal responsibility would have a good deal to do with how much you pay for health insurance, as it should in a free market.  At the same time, a particular company’s profitability would hinge on making consumers happy with their coverages.

What many people ignore is that if one had to pay cash for the whole bill each time one became ill, or injured, most of us would go untreated indefinitely, because few of us have the resources to pay cash for extensive or invasive health-care procedures.  Dr. Carson talks a good deal about Health Savings Accounts, but such plans are more useful for mundane purposes of a less critical nature than their utility in life-threatening circumstances.  While I support Health Savings Accounts, I believe insurance is a necessary hedge against calamities.  If we change our focus from health-care insurance for ongoing maintenance, to a paradigm in which what we insure against are catastrophic circumstances, while letting things like HSAs pick up the slack for ordinary health maintenance, in a market environment, one would see the market begin to perform in a natural fashion.  Unfortunately, this means that people would need  to shop for insurance like they do any other commodity, and seek out the best deals on their ordinary health maintenance and preventative care, and most Americans have become far too complacent about such matters, expecting it all to be automatic.

The truth of the  matter is that if Americans want health-care to improve markedly in the United States, while restraining the growth in costs, without resorting to some sort of death-panel or other government-mandated rationing mechanism, there is a mechanism, however imperfect: The free market.  Unfortunately, since the advent of Medicaid and Medicare, and even widespread employer-purchased health benefits(prompted by government wage and price controls,)  we haven’t had a free market for health-care in the United States, never mind health insurance.  The government is now the largest consumer of health-care services in the country as a direct payer, by many times over, and yet there is still an illusion held by many who receive health-care services paid for or otherwise subsidized through government payments that they are in control of their health-care.  They’re not.

If Dr. Carson’s criticism of corporate health insurance providers were true, then it must be even more thoroughly the case that no institution more than government would wish to avoid costs by denying care.  Do you need evidence? Consider Paul Krugman, longtime leftist economic propagandist and one-note statist, quoted as follows in a piece at Western Journalism:

“We’re going to need more revenue…it will require some sort of middle class taxes as well…And we’re also going to…have to make decisions about health care, not pay for health care that has no demonstrated medical benefits…death panels and sales taxes is how we do this.”  -Paul Krugman

What Krugman is saying is entirely true, but only if government becomes the source and payer for health-care, because otherwise, the free market would regulate prices in the same manner it does for virtually everything else.  Some will object, insisting that “health-care is different,” just as they have insisted that every other human need is different, from food to housing to education to Internet service to cellular phones.  All of these claims are equally wrong, and equally immoral.  These claims all begin by demanding that some basic human needs be met, and all of them end with a gun to tax-payers’ heads.  All of them.

I admire a number of positions taken by Dr. Carson, and I have no objections whatever about his participation in the public policy debate, but at some point, if he wishes to keep my attention, he will be required to offer more than platitudes and generalities about Health Savings Accounts.  He devoted several lines of rhetoric to the attack of ideologues, but I am always cautious when people attack broad sets of philosophically bound principles in vague terms. I am curious to hear more from Dr. Carson, but I hope there will be a good deal more specificity. Talk of presidential runs and other such notions are fanciful and premature at best, and while I’ve heard a number of truncated statements about various topics from Dr. Carson, what I’ve not heard is a guiding philosophy that informs his opinions. Absent that, I have no grounds upon which to base any opinion of his suitability to any office, much less his qualifications to be President of the United States, and I find it unseemly that Hannity and others would talk of Dr. Carson in presidential terms given that we know so little about his positions.  It may turn out that Dr. Carson is wonderful in all respects, but we already have a President who sailed into office through the propagation of vague, nice-sounding generalities, and I do not believe we can afford another.

Enough said about that.

Note: Mr. L also had some words to say on this subject.

Romney Admits He Will REPLACE Obama-care…

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012


We already knew that Mitt Romney would never stand up for capitalism, but on Jay Leno’s show on Tuesday night, Romney said that he would seek to repeal Obama-care and replace it.  We don’t need to replace it with a different big government plan like Romney-care, which is almost the same thing.  We need to get the government OUT of health care to the degree we can.  That’s going to be impossible with Mitt Romney who intends to extend the welfare state just the same.  It isn’t a question of repealing Obama-care only to replace it with another big-government program, but instead getting government out of all such programs.  Mitt Romney would tinker around the edges, only, as I’ve been reporting here for months, and this clip is effectively his confession.

Here’s the video, with the relevant portion at roughly half-way through:

The other problem with Romney’s claim is that he will issue waivers for Obamacare, but the truth is that no waivers are permissible under the statute, and the left will immediately take a Romney administration to court.  There will be no waivers.  This man is lying to the American people when he hangs all of this on a supposed waiver.  Sure, Obama is issuing waivers, but there’s nothing in the law that suggests this is permissible.

What The Media Talks About When You’re Not Looking

Saturday, January 21st, 2012

Dr. David Samadi - Regulating Life

Just a short while ago, I was retrieving a fresh cup of coffee, and I happened to hear something on the television that caused me to do a double-take.  FoxNews was on and America’s New Headquarters had a contributor on to talk about obesity in America, and the fact that obesity and even the classification “overweight” seem to have plateaued in the country.  The doctor, from Mt. Sinai in New York, a David Samadi, was discussing the implications of the new study showing this plateau.  The thing that caught my attention was not so much the discussion of obesity, but what this idiotic doctor was prescribing:  He wants new taxes, for instance, a “soda tax,” and he wants to reduce the number of fast-food outlets in the country. Excuse me?  Physician, heal thyself! This is the nature of the stories even allegedly “conservative” news outlets like FoxNews cover when most of us aren’t watching, and it almost always leans in the direction of socialism.

Let me say from the outset that like many Americans, I could stand to eat Five Guys burgers somewhat less frequently, but let me also suggest that it is none of this doctor’s business what I eat or drink, where I eat it or drink it, and most of all whether I am taxed for so doing.  Samadi’s view seems to be that he can issue prescriptions for three-hundred-million people, never having examined more than a few hands-full of them.  More, since he has no such authority or power or the ability to control, he exhorts government to do so on behalf of his preferred prescription for people the vast majority of whom he has never met, never mind examined or treated.  What sort of collectivized thinking permits this arrogant [expletive deleted] to sit there in a television studio and proclaim to all that he has the answers for your life, but that he needs government’s power to coerce and to tax in order to implement them?

There is something wicked about the minds of those who view their fellow men as cattle, to be poked and prodded and driven in a direction that they may not themselves wish to go.  It is born of a mindset that does not respect first and foremost the lives and rights of individual people. These people are those who I term “regulators,” who wish to regulate all persons in a given society of which they are members to conform to their view of what is right for all people.  Mayor Bloomberg’s various bans on salt or saturated fats in cooking oils are just two examples, but it is the mindset of a tyrant that is troubling in all of this.  I don’t need Mayor Bloomberg, Michelle Obama, or Dr. Samadi telling me what to eat, when to eat it, or whether I ought to have access to it at all.  It’s simply not their concern.  Or is it?

Now we arrive at the meat of this issue, because there is much more than burgers at stake here.  What is under examination is not whether they have the authority to control us, but how they derive such authority in the first place.  The answer is simple: They rely upon the faulty claims of the notion of “the public health.”  You may have noticed that they always portray this as a “public health crisis,” and as an “epidemic,” but this is a lie, and their authority in the matter only arises because of health-care, and the fact that government is the biggest player in that segment of the market.  They have routinely positioned the matter in such a way that they can make the claim that by virtue of governmental expenditures in this field, it therefore becomes an issue of public imperative.  Worse, by allowing their colossal medical expenditures and controls to grow out of all bounds, you have permitted them to enter this field, and thereby exert control over your breakfast, lunch, dinner, and evening snack besides.  More damaging still is the fact that the government is now the largest food provider on the planet. Again, I remind you: We have permitted this.

Here’s a basic rule of nature, and of civilization that the statists know and are now turning in their favor: If you are the provider of a thing, you can decide when to provide it, how to provide, how much of it to provide, and under what conditions you’ll provide it.  For instance, if I invite you to my home for a meal, since I am providing it, it is my natural right to determine all the particulars.  If you provide me a service without compensation, it is clear that I have no ethical or moral claim with respect to the manner in which you provide it. Only paying customers have any say-so in the matter.  The old adage “beggars can’t be choosers” should immediately leap into one’s mind.  That simple old adage merely paid homage to that which is self-evident, and yet it is this same concept that has been bent and twisted into the service of the state’s aggressive aggregation of power.  The strategy has been to blur the lines. Let’s see if we can reconstruct the approach.

First, we create simultaneously programs to:

  • Provide food to the poor
  • Provide health-care to the poor
  • Provide “health insurance” to the elderly

Do you see how this has mutated?  The idle poor are fed, but they are fed rations excessive for a person at hard labor, and we wonder why there is obesity? We then provide these same people health-care, and we wonder why there is a “public health crisis?”  Add to this that we simultaneous have a system of health “insurance” for our elderly that further obscures the difference between paying and non-paying, and at the other end of the spectrum, we now have federal food programs in schools, as the manner by which federal funds are dispersed and control exercised.

By exercising control over the disbursement of these commodities and services, the government is essentially putting itself in the position of the provider, and therefore has become the “chooser,” with all the beneficiaries effectively having been rendered “beggars.”  Those of us who are paying for this are the real providers, and yet we are now told it is a matter of “human rights” that we do this provisioning. Obamacare is simply the latest in this chain, but it’s hardly the only “improvement” to the system that has been foisted upon us in recent years, with the Bush Medicare Prescription Drugs program added to the mix.

With the government now being the largest payer in the health-care market, you can expect that it will naturally displace market imperatives in the delivery of health-care goods and services, and it will necessarily prioritize that delivery(death panels, for instance,) while reaching into unrelated markets to regulate those things that it will make the case as having some influence over the costs to government.

This then leads to the grotesque spectacle of Dr. Samadi appearing on FoxNews telling us what we can eat, where we can procure it, and what taxes we ought to pay along the way, as the whole miserable assembly comes lurching into plain sight.  You can be told what you can eat because you will [eventually] rely upon government to pay for your health-care.  The market can be told what it may provide, and how, because the government has an interest in reducing its costs.  The tax-payer can be told to shut up about it, since it’s virtually established as some sort of irreducible premise that every person ought to be somehow entitled to that which does not pour from the heavens, but must be obtained by human effort.  As you can therefore see, it is inevitable that government has now used this to become a dictator in every important facet of our lives, and all because somewhere along the march from our founding to present, we permitted them to make our needs the means to its ends.

When you consider that this is the sort of thing that is discussed on allegedly conservative media when most of the country isn’t watching, it ought to alert you to the underlying premises of the discussions in media many more of us witness.  What we should note is that in most every media outlet, there is a sort of inherent reverence for the state, and for the under-girding foundational constructs of collectivism, and we ought to be very careful not to ignore that these media outlets are fundamentally in favor of it, almost all of them, and widely across the board. It’s easy to dismiss this sort of news story as simple time-fillers on a weekend with no ongoing crisis-bound event on which to report, but I think we should be careful to see that is also a sign of what lies behind the blaring headlines, and it is key to understanding why the country continues to be dragged ceaselessly leftward.

Obamacare Already a Disaster

Saturday, November 12th, 2011

He Promised This Won't Hurt a Bit - He Lied

More than 4.5 million Americans have lost their employer-sponsored health-care insurance in just a little more than a year-and-one-half since Obamacare was enacted, reports Gallup.  This demonstrates the folly of Obamacare, and it makes plain why conservatives had been so concerned about the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.”  This result was a virtual inevitability, and for those who think this is over, you’d better brace yourselves: By the time Obamacare fully takes effect, there will be roughly ten million more Americans who will file to receive it than had been projected, if the current trend continues.  Worse, if Boehner’s sell-out on a Balanced Budget Amendment happens, we’re going to see it used to fund all of this.  There really is no alternative: We must reverse this law by full repeal, or the price paid will be dear in tax-payers’ dollars and Americans’ lives.

Worse still, as Jeffrey H. Anderson, writing for The Weekly Standard points out, since the CBO projected that the number of people would go up by 6 million, they’ve already missed the mark by more than 10.5 million people.  The Congressional Budget Office, then controlled by Democrats Pelosi and Reid, created rosy forecasts in order to sell the bill to Congressional members and to the public, but the truth is that at the current rate of loss, we may be looking at projections that missed the mark by as much 15-20 million people.  This will be the ultimate budget-buster, but it will also create the situation about which conservatives have consistently warned, starting with Sarah Palin who denounced the “Death Panels” provided in the law(and for which she was mocked, but about which she was nevertheless correct.)  We are going to see a dramatically reduced quality of care, and we are going to see a sort of rationing that will be borne on the backs of the elderly and the infirm.  In short, under Obamacare, people will die much sooner on average than would have been the case had we merely left things alone.

This is the situation Barack Obama and his merry band of Marxists have intentionally created:  A poorer America, a shorter life expectancy, and more people than ever dependent upon government for every necessity of their lives.  Add to this the increasing social unrest we’ve been experiencing, and what you have is a recipe for the death of America, and the premature deaths of millions of Americans.

As Anderson reminds us, Obama promised repeatedly: “If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan.”  He lied:  You can’t, and you won’t.  Get ready.  With previously conservative judges like Laurence Silberman losing their minds on this case, it’s clear that only a repeal will save us from this mess.  That will only happen if we flip the Senate and get a real conservative President in 2012.  We’re literally in a fight for our lives, and the American people ought to know it.