Posted by Charity on September 26th, 2006

This is a continuation of the previous post, in which I respond to some issues raised in the comments.

Should access to health care be a market commodity based on ability to pay or a common good that should be guaranteed for all, like fire protection, police, national defense, roads, parks, snow plows, courts, etc?

I have a few comments about this question.

First, the services that are paid for communally, through government, are done so because the individual cannot provide for it himself, or they are services that benefit the entire community as a whole uniformly. I don’t think the same can be said about healthcare. It is a service that the individual can provide for himself, if he chooses to do so. The vast majority of people have healthcare. The number of people who do not is too small, in my mind, to alone justify switching to a government-funded system.

If we look at systems that are government-run, like police departments and schools, they are also government-controlled and the employees are employees of the government. Unless you are proposing to do the same thing with healthcare, then we are really comparing apples to oranges.

There are a lot more complexities in simply using a government funding mechanism to cover the cost of a private healthcare system. For one, the government does not always pay as much as it actually costs to provide the service. One example: most dentists have to limit the number of Medicaid and Dr. Dinosaur (VT’s kiddie Medicaid) patients they accept because the government does not pay enough to cover the cost of the procedure. I do not mean that they fail to turn a profit, but they actually take a loss on Medicaid patients.

Speaking of police and schools, those are things that are provided for by the government, but it is only a base level. If one is unhappy about the level of security or the quality of the schools, one can hire a private security service or send their kids to a private school. Would we do the same for healthcare? If we did, then aren’t we back to a point where we are looking at healthcare as a market commodity, where those who can afford more have more? If we didn’t, doesn’t the government system seem to do more harm than good in the arena of liberty if it denies people the right to seek private care above what is provided by the government? That just seems so anti-American to me. And no offense to Canada, but it seems completely uncivilized to deny people the right to go outside the government system.

If the problem is that people who have more money have better access and better care, then how far should the government go to abolish that inequity? Rich people will have more and better quality of everything than people with less money.

Is healthcare the only “right” that the government should equalize? What about food? That is certainly a more immediate need than healthcare, perhaps even more important. How come rich people get more and better quality food than poor people? When do you think the last time Rich Tarrant (or Bernie Sanders for that matter) ate boxed macaroni and cheese for dinner or even worse, felt hungry because they did not have enough food? Should food be communally funded? If not, why not?

What about housing? The rich always have better access to nicer houses than poor people. I live in an apartment complex with no private yard space. Trust me, it sucks. Should the government supply houses to everyone?

At what point do we decide that a need becomes a right?

The things that I mentioned above, food and housing, are both provided by the government to poor people only. Why should healthcare be government system for everyone instead of being provided by the government only to the poor?

At this point, I think the market is a better provider of healthcare than the government. There are certainly things that can be done to make it a better system, but exchanging it for a socialist system that is shown to be full of its own problems is not the answer. Socialized medicine in other countries is also facing cost and access issues. Why not apply some of the known fixes to the problems with out current system instead of just trading it in for a new set of problems?

(Filed under: Political Thought)

8 Responses to “Government vs. Business (Part Two)”

  1. Instead of commenting on the subject of healthcare, I want to respond to two of the questions that you asked:

    “Should food be communally funded?….What about housing?”

    Charity, in every major city in this country, you can find homeless people begging for money. These homeless individuals are frequently mentally ill. They live in horrible conditions in the richest country in the world. When I think of these mentally ill homeless people, my answer to your two questions is YES!. Yes, every community should provide some type of food and shelter for those individuals who are simply unable to provide it for themselves.

    We should be ashamed that there are so many ill people who are living in the streets.

  2. Yes, but as I said in my post, we provide these things only to people who need them, not to everyone. It then follows that we needn’t provide healthcare to everyone, only those who cannot provide it for themselves.

    Mentally ill people living on the streets is a different issue entirely than poverty. People who display anti-social or violent or otherwise generally unacceptable behaviors toward others are not easy to help. It takes more than just food and housing to help these people.

    I agree that having them live in the streets is not an acceptable way to deal with them either.

  3. The vast majority of people have healthcare. The number of people who do not is too small, in my mind, to alone justify switching to a government-funded system.

    and…

    It then follows that we needn’t provide healthcare to everyone, only those who cannot provide it for themselves.

    So, do these statements indicate that you agree with Howard Dean and Rich Tarrant that we should expand Medicare and Medicaid for the over 40 million (a rather large number, I think) currently uninsured Americans?

  4. I only have a second because my son is about to do his math program on the computer, but I saw this and had to respond.

    NO, NO, NO, NO, NO! I do not agree with expanding Medicare and Medicaid!

    There have been studies of the breakdown of who is insured. I can look it up later, but basically there are those who can afford it, but choose not to; those who are poor, but already eligible for government programs; and the third, the one that would bolster your side, those who are too poor to afford it, and do not qualify for government programs. The third group is only a small portion of that alleged 40 million.

    Then there is the fact that the number of uninsured includes people who are uninsured for only a temporary time period. If I am uninsured for 9 months or a year while looking for a new job, should I be included in the number of uninsured? I don’t think so. Yeah, it would really be a bummer if something happened during that time, but if I am normally able to benefit from the current system, I might not want to be used to defend overhauling it.

    Okay, I have to go.

    I was working on a post about our security discussion, but it is not finished. I hope to have it up later.

  5. Hey, speaking of Howard Dean and healthcare, back in June 2003 I wrote a piece for my old She’s Right website that can be viewed here on OpinionEditorials.com.

  6. By the way, I know you don’t support that expansion…

    I was just being a wiseass…

    And, though I’m enjoying our dialogue, please don’t hesitate to tell me to go away if my challenges to your statements start to become annoying.

    I say this especially because you’ve mentioned that you purposely don’t go over to GMD very often to join a debate because you feel it’s a place for the left to talk amongst ourselves.

  7. I don’t mind the challenges at all.

    And just to be clear, I read GMD all of the time. I just don’t want to butt into every conversation with my POV. That is what I have this blog for. :)

  8. It’s time to equalize health care. Let me buy my health care from any state in the nation.

    I did some price comparisons today….

    For a family of four:

    Vermont $1198.58 per month ($3500 deductible, $30 co-pay, https://www.bcbsvt.com/pages/products/freedomplandirect.html)
    New Hampshire $295.00 per month ($2500 deductible, $20 co-pay, https://www.ehealthinsurance.com)

    And for those who might say that NH is $800 cheaper simply due to the greater population, then here is WY which has 150,000 fewer people than Vermont…

    Wyoming $225.91 per month ( $2500 deductible, 25% co-pay after deductible reached, https://www.ehealthinsurance.com)

    When Vermonters can’t afford to stay, it is time for the folks in Montpelier to go.