January 14, 2010

I have trouble even talking with people about “€œhealthcare reform.”€ The problem is, whenever someone says something like “€œ46 million Americans are uninsured!”€ (usually followed by a drawn-out sigh of moral outrage), I answer back, “€œGood to hear. If only we could get more people off insurance, then prices would fall and efficiency would increase.”€

Needless to say, this usually doesn”€™t go over too well, and I often get subjected to comparisons to the History Channel’s list of Most Evil Dictators. “€œActually, my dear, Hitler was in favor of socialized medicine…”€  

I”€™ve really never understood the “€œuniversal coverage”€ concept. I lack insurance for routine maintenance of my car, apartment, and computer and yet am able afford upkeep on my meager salary. Why should my body be different? Moreover, it’s only those medical procedures that people must pay for out of pocket (like Lasik eye surgery, breast implants, and the rest) that have had stable—or even falling—prices over the past decade.

More insurance just makes everything more expensive; “€œuniversal”€ coverage would be catastrophic. 

Yet, the “€œuniversal healthcare”€ meme has been the Left’s Holy Grail for years—the big redemptive social program, whose absence bespeaks a backward and cruel America. Rock The Vote has gone as far as to warn young men everywhere that if they even think about not supporting Obamacare, they”€™ll never to get laid again—ever! 

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Any young person nodding along to this video might want to remember that the plan that just passed the Senate won”€™t actually give most of them any “€œfree healthcare”€; instead, it”€™ll force them to buy insurance, costing them thousands each year.  It’s obviously a horrible deal. But no matter. Twenty-something beta-males and Stuff-White-People-Like people will support socialized medicine of any kind if they know what’s cool for them.             

I”€™ve found it quite strange that just as the Democrats have begun negotiations over exactly kind of bill they”€™ve been fantasizing about for a long time, the liberal hardcore decided it didn”€™t support it anymore. The Nation, Howard Dean and the bloggers all came out against. And even after the bill passed in a last-minute vote on Christmas Eve, the liberals stuck to their guns.

(You see, the Senate bill lacks a “€œpublic option”€—that is, health insurance, or even actual healthcare, that the government provides directly—and for the liberals, this means that the wicked insurance companies will still be getting rich covering Americans.)

Keith Olbermann has likened such a state of affairs to appeasing the Abominable Snowman:

[O]ur underprivileged, our sick, our elderly, our middle class, can be fed into [the insurance industry], as human sacrifices to the great maw of corporate voraciousness…The American Insurance Cartel is the Death Panel, and this Senate bill does nothing to destroy it. Nor even to satiate it.

Demanding that everyone take insurance, and then hating anyone who profits in the insurance industry, is at the root of this weird liberal angst. But this is leading them to intellectual blackout. One senses that the liberals are disappointed that Obama’s not trust-busting enough, and humiliating enough insurance CEOs, and that this has blinded them to the fact that they”€™re actually getting most everything they”€™ve always wanted.  

First off, there’s really no need for Olbermann & Co. to be concerned. Not only does the Senate bill approximate what Barack Obama promised on the campaign trail, but it would, without question, eventuate in a massive socialization of medical care.

No reform plan was ever going to create a big public facility where we”€™d all go when sick, and where the doctors and nurses would be state employees. (This is what Britain has, and no one wants to reproduce the NHS.)

Besides the contemporary welfare state isn”€™t just brick-and-mortar bureaucracies. The brunt of its work is done by funneling money to “€œnon-governmental organizations”€ (think ACORN, “€œfaith-based initiatives,”€ Freddie and Fannie, and other disasters) as well as well-connected private companies (including the evil insurance cartel, which, by the way, could never have cartelized itself if the government hadn”€™t been subsidizing its products.)

So yes, if the bill’s enacted, the insurance execs will still get rich: forcing the companies to cover everyone will be more than made up for by mandating that everyone who can buy insurance. But what’s significant is that the industry execs will profit as government rent-seekers, not as barons of free-enterprise, just as the cartel itself will morph into a deathly private-enterprise/public-utility cyborg.

Insurance is about someone else taking on the liability of your getting sick or injured; to make a profit, the insurer wagers that more insurés won”€™t get hurt or injured each month than do. Obliging everyone to buy insurance and insurers to insure everyone might be accurately called a tax or a pre-payment for medical care. But insurance it ain”€™t.  



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