More government will not fix broken health care system
President Barack Obama was correct in his basic assumption about health care reform. He said in his Sept. 9 speech to Congress, "Tonight, I return to speak to all of you about an issue that is central to [our] future — and that is the issue of health care." There are two main problems with health care in the United States. The first is spiraling costs, which many people and companies cannot afford, and the second issue is the lack of portability. In other words, all those who receive health insurance from employers will lose that insurance if they change jobs or lose their jobs. There are many reasons why costs have skyrocketed in health care. The first is simple. The quality of care in America has improved, and it makes sense that costs would rise, as well. But there are other causes of unaffordable insurance costs, and they are not as intrinsic as the correlation between costs and quality. One of the most important reasons for the increasing costs is that Americans are not able to purchase insurance from other states. Congress should pass legislation to remove this barrier. This would allow New Jersey citizens to buy insurance from North Dakota and someone from North Dakota to buy insurance from Hawaii. The point is that each state has very limited choices, and when there is limited supply, prices go up. Conversely, if Americans have all fifty states to choose from, costs would go down. This one small proposal would cost the federal government no money, would not expand entitlements and, most importantly, would lower the cost of health insurance.Tort reform, or medical malpractice reform, would also lower the costs of health insurance. Everyone has heard stories about frivolous lawsuits, which bring in millions of dollars. While those who successfully sue doctors and hospitals might be better off financially, the majority of Americans are left with a higher bill. Quite simply, somebody has to pay for the lawsuits. Doctors get paid by their patients, and if doctors' costs go up, then so do patients'. Congress should pass a bill that restricts unnecessary lawsuits, and that would cap fees for tort lawyers. Unfortunately, the current Washington establishment would never pass such a bill, because tort lawyers are a powerful interest group — the sort of interest group President Obama promised he would not allow to control Washington. But it is universally accepted that such a tort reform bill would decrease costs for individuals.Lastly, our portability problem is a symptom of a misguided policy that grants tax exemption to employers who purchase health insurance for their employees but gives no exemptions for individuals to purchase insurance on their own. As a result, the entire apparatus of health care is tied to employers and not to individuals. This has many unpleasant consequences. It penalizes people who want to switch careers or jobs. It makes it nearly impossible to maintain the same insurance while switching jobs. Since people are not paying for their own insurance, they are not as frugal as they otherwise might be. How many patients who have employer-based insurance ask their doctors how much a certain procedure will cost? I would guess that the number is quite small. Whenever I inform people that I am opposed to a government takeover of the insurance market, they begin to inform me about all the travesties and injustices. I agree, the system is broken and needs to be fixed. More government, though, is no fix at all. A health care industry run through government fiat will be inefficient and will raise costs, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Instead of increasing the size and scope of government, I argue for free market reforms that will lower costs and increase portability. Noah Glyn is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in economics.