Two comments on health care on Denver Post website

The first comment is in response to this article about a “Medicaid “kids blitz. My comment is posted at the end:

Oh, how compassionate. Senator Bob Hagedorn is brave enough to “challenge the establishment” “when it comes to the health care of Colorado’s children.” A shrewd politician, Hagedorn has used the age-old “for the children” ploy to make anyone who dare oppose him look mean. Let’s expose this wolf in sheep’s clothing.Hagedorn tries to take the moral high ground by posing as an advocate for children’s health. But there is no compassion in forcing other people to pay for another’s perceived good case. That’s just intolerant and arrogant. Further, Medicaid unfairly competes with voluntary charities: taxpayers face prison for trying to divert their tax-donations to charities that have actually earned their support. This is unfair, unjust, and gives Medicaid little incentive to be and efficient and innovative charity.

By viewing government as a competitor to charities and insurance companies, it’s clear that Hagedorn is not “challenging the establishment,” that is, the government. He is simply increasing government’s market share. The National Bureau of Economic Research has established this in its Working Paper 12536, Medicaid Crowd-Out of Private Long-Term Care Insurance Demand,” available on-line. Further, as the Council for Affordable Health Insurance shows, government-mandated coverage increases insurance premiums by as much as 45%. Of course, politicians dictate what kinds of policies insurance companies can and cannot offer to “help the consumer,” and never squash Medicaid’s competitors.

Medicaid is a bully. It increases medical costs for those not enrolled, which both legitimizes legislation expanding its benefits and further crowds out its competitors – insurance companies and voluntary charities. Medicaid hurts us all. Make it compete fairly with insurance companies and private charities by making donations voluntary.

My second post is a response to Jim Spencer’s Health care to receive a quick cure.”

In paraphrasing the views of Mark Earnest, vice president of the Coalition for the Medically Underserved, Jim Spencer refers to an “imploding market-driven system.” It’s not clear whether this is Spencer’s or Earnest’s view, and I invite either of them to answer my questioning it: How can one describe health care as “market-driven” when

[1] government health insurance mandates increase premiums by up to 45% (For references, Google “Remove barriers to affordable health insurance” & http://www.cahi.org),

[2] Medicaid unfairly competes by crowding out private insurance and increasing costs for those not enrolled. (Google “Medicaid Crowd-Out of Private Long-Term Care Insurance Demand” and “NBER Working Paper No. 10930”.) Further, the USA Today reports that “many workers choose Medicaid over insurance offered by their employers because it is less expensive.” (Google “Welfare reform opens Medicaid to millions”)

[3] The tax-exempt status of employer-provided insurance reduces competition and has converted true insurance into pre-paid health care. Insulated from costs, patients over-consume and drive up prices – while costs of uninsured procedures such as cosmetic surgery and corrective eye surgery have decreases compared to the Consumer Price Index. (Google “NCPA – Brief Analysis 437, Why Are Health Costs Rising?” and “Insulation vs. Insurance”)

[4] Health-care industry mandates costs each household $1,500 per year — with dubious benefits — and is responsible for one-sixth of the daily uninsured. (Google “Health Care Regulation: A $169 Billion Hidden Tax”)

[5] Nearly 9 percent of what employers pay in annual insurance premiums subsidizes Medicaid and Medicare instead of covering employee medical expenses. (Google “Medicare, Medicaid payments drive up employee insurance costs”).

[6] Government programs are responsible for more than 40% of national health expenditures (Google “History of health care costs and health insurance”), and

[7] Amy Finkelstein of the National Bureau of Economic Research found that “Medicare was associated with a 23 percent increase in total hospital expenditures (for all ages) between 1965 and 1970, with even larger effects if her analysis is extended through 1975” (Google “Medicare and Its Impact”).

The free-market is based on individual rights and voluntary transactions, and government is supposed to protect these rights. Instead, government is engaged of a hostile takeover of the health care industry, where it both unfairly competes with insurance companies and charities while driving them out of business by mandating what they can and cannot do. Mr. Earnest and Mr. Spencer, I welcome your comments.

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