Sunday, May 24, 2009

Emulating Failure-Liberals and Their Love Affair with Universal Healthcare

By: Laura Adelmann

The call for universal healthcare has grown louder over the past few years. We constantly hear from the President and the Democratic majority that we can’t fix the economy until we fix healthcare. Now come the commercials preaching the same message. Is healthcare broken? Is the only solution to march down the path to socialized medicine?

Obama and the Democrats are rubbing their hands together and hatching their plans to “fix” healthcare. The ultimate goal being universal coverage, we can guess what some of those plans may be by looking at Obama’s campaign promises. Imagine a Medicare-like government program for those who don’t qualify for the newly expanded SCHIP program, but who are dissatisfied with their current insurance or who have none available. Medicare is currently a growing nightmare, with increasing costs and recent estimates showing its bankruptcy looming closer than expected. How would a new government program control costs where Medicare has failed? Rationing. Medicare has already seen the light and started down this path, refusing to cover new technology for less invasive colonoscopies currently being covered by many private insurers. This is just the start of the restrictions that people will have to face on their new universal coverage. Prescriptions drugs with be assessed for cost and efficacy. Procedures will be weighed by your age, potential for survival, etc. The United States currently has the highest cancer survival rate in the world. We may be sacrificing that too in the name of universal coverage. Michael Moore may think he’s willing to wait for access to doctors in the name of “fairness,” but is he willing to wait 19 months for bypass surgery? Knee replacement? A tumor biopsy?

Conservatives have been accused of finding fault with the Democrats’ plans, but offering no solutions themselves. This is not true. The love affair with European-style socialism has blinded people to smaller, more practical solutions that have been offered. First, tax breaks are key to making insurance affordable and portable. McCain offered the idea of replacing the tax benefit of employer-provided coverage with a tax credit for individuals and families. Removing the employer/insurance link that limits the portability of insurance is important and often misunderstood.

Another good idea that has been put forth is removing regulations that limit individual insurance policies sales. For example, living in Ohio, I can’t shop around for a cheaper policy designed in Oregon or Utah. If your state regulates insurance policies heavily and these barriers are removed, you can expand your choices and be responsible for your own coverage choice.

Obviously, innovation would help lower costs. I believe liberals and conservatives can both agree on that. Improved technology prevents duplicative testing and procedures and also reduces errors.

Finally, part of the reason that insurance is so costly is that it is so abused. Why do we run to insurance to cover day to day costs from routine doctor’s visits to antibiotics? Why is health insurance so different from car insurance or homeowner’s insurance. Paying for routine visits and having insurance for crisis or prolonged illness would put less strain on the system. Encouraging healthy people to opt for higher deductible insurance policies would reduce the drain on insurers and help curb rising premiums.

Universal coverage is a beautiful idea, but is America really ready for what it truly brings: rationing, wait lists, limited selection of doctors and little control over your own healthcare decisions? And we haven’t even mentioned how Obama plans to pay for it. Conservatives need to start screaming from the rooftops that universal coverage isn’t free and it won’t just harm our wallets, it will harm those we love the most.

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