Health care bill leads nowhere
The Daily Targum's March 23 editorial, "Health reform comes at right time," celebrated the Senate health care bill that just passed the House of Representatives by a 219-212 vote. The editorial stated, "At its core, the health care reform aims to sort out a problem that has been present in the U.S. for decades." Indeed, no one argues against the concept of health care reform — in fact, the vast majority of Americans support general health care reform, while the minority opposes this bill. It is necessary to look at what health care's major problems are, what causes them and whether this bill will solve any of these problems.
There are two main problems in American health care insurance markets: cost and portability. Both are caused by employer-based and government plans, like Medicare and Medicaid. The majority of Americans receive their health care through their work. Other than co-payment costs, these Americans are not paying for their own medical procedures, doctor's visits or pharmaceutical drugs — this is called a third party payer system. When private employers or the government provide health care, people have no reason to be cost-conscience because someone else is paying for their major medical expenses. It is only when you pay for your own goods or services that you begin to care about how much something costs. Therefore, to solve the problem of increasing insurance costs, America has to move away from the third party payer system. Think about it this way: can you think of any other industry where technology continues to increase so dramatically, yet prices continue to rise? Computers used to be far less advanced than they are now, but their current prices are lower than they have ever been. Since people pay for their own computers with their own money, they have every reason to spend their money wisely. This is in stark contrast to health care, where technology has increased along with prices. To lower prices, we must move away from third party payments for health care.
Moving away from the third party payment system would also increase portability, solving the second main problem with health care. There is a major tax incentive for people to receive employer-based insurance plans. Individuals pay taxes on the money they use to purchase health care, while the government does not compel employers to pay such a tax. How did such a scenario come to happen in the first place? During former President Franklin Roosevelt's administration, the government imposed ceilings on the amount of wages a business could pay their employees. This was highly unpopular, because no one wanted to work for less than they are worth. Businesses began offering health care along with income as an extra incentive for workers. The government had not ordered restrictions on health care policies, so this became very popular and eventually the government structured tax laws around this form of third party insurance payments. Before this time, however, people purchased their own health care insurance, like any other service. People could switch jobs or careers and still have the same insurance.
Unfortunately, the bill that was just passed by the House solves no problems. But rather creates more. It furthers America's dependence on the third party payer system. Even worse, it forces millions of Americans to rely on the federal government to provide health care, and according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, millions will lose their insurance and go onto the federal payroll. This bill puts America on a path toward a European welfare state, with higher taxes, higher deficits, high unemployment and depressed economic growth, and it assumes that federal bureaucrats know what is best for millions of Americans. Democrats have crafted a bill with so much deception and sleight of hand that they created the illusion that it will cut the deficit, but even the CBO admits that their projections are unlikely to come to fruition. This legislative process has left Americans even more cynical than they were before — hard as that may be to believe.
Liberals are fond of saying that health care is a human right, like free speech or freedom of conscience — if this is the case, then isn't there something perverse in allowing the government to control that right? Isn't it wrong to let the government ration that right? This bill raises many unanswered questions.
Noah Glyn is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in economics and history.