Richard Nishman: Keep government’s heavy hand out of health care |

Richard Nishman: Keep government’s heavy hand out of health care

Richard Nishman MD

Mr. Weiss raises some very valid points in relation to some glaring health insurance issues. However, he fails to recognize that a large portion of these problems are directly caused by the very government he seems to want to manage all of health care.

Various government agencies don’t allow for insurance competition. Only certain companies can sell very specific insurance products in limited places. This results in very limited competition. The end result are the problems Mr. Weiss refers to, pre-existing condition denials, dropped coverage, caps on coverage. Of course you will pay more if you are sick, just like you pay more for car insurance if you have a history of accidents. You are a greater risk to the insurance company, and your premium will be higher.

One of the solutions is to sell very long-term policies. Similar to term life insurance. Buy a 10, 20 or even longer year policy. Pay your premiums and keep your coverage. Another option is to cap insurance company profits and losses. Trade some government-supported guarantee of no losses, for a limit on profits. Very similar to what is done with utility companies.

Currently almost 49 percent of all health care expenses are paid via Medicare, Medicaid and the VA system. The government is the largest single health care payer by far. For all intents and purposes the government sets all fees of all procedures and care. When the government low-balls providers, the cost is shifted to private insurance payers. Hence everybody with private insurance pays more because the government forces lower rates on providers and institutions (there is no bargaining with the government). So for example, if Medicare pays 66 cents on the dollar, someone will pay 1.33 on the dollar to compensate.

Mr. Weiss asserts that government run health care won’t create “death panels” and won’t give coverage to “illegals.” Well there are, for lack of a better term, “death panels” in England. That is a group of bureaucrats that decides the value of your life, and whether you should receive care. And the U.S. government does currently insure illegal aliens via emergency Medicaid. Additionally the Congress has refused to place provisions in their health care bill that would make it clear that there is no coverage for illegal aliens.

The most current health care bill only manages to cover half of the current uninsured. It does this by directly affecting those with insurance. Half of the cost of the newest plan is supposed to be provided by a $400 billion cut in Medicare. This would not happen, and would not be tolerated. A significant part of the remainder of the cost is via increased taxes. So the current plan will only address half the problem by directly affecting the 85 percent of Americans that are relatively happy with their care. I don’t view this as a good trade off.

Much better solutions are available by utilizing free market principles, and removing the heavy hand of the government.

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