President Obama spoke in Chicago Monday morning at the Annual Conference of the American Medical Association about his plan for health care in America. The first part of Obama’s speech was a fairly accurate litany of current problems: more than $2 trillion a year (which is roughly $7,000 per person) is spent by Americans on health care; moreover, expenditures are rising rapidly; yet the quality of care is not what it should be.
What Obama evaded is that the American healthcare system is already essentially a socialized system.
Of the $2 trillion in spending that Obama cites, about $900 billion is spent by the federal government on ‘Health and Human Services’ (if state spending on federally-sponsored Medicaid is included) alone. And this expenditure is only partial reimbursement for the full cost of government-mandated services, so that the non-reimbursed costs must be built into the price of services charged to those in the private sector. The half of the healthcare industry outside of government’s Health and Human Services is highly socialized in the form of fascist controls: near-total control over what insurance companies must cover in their policies, control over drug companies via the Food and Drug Administration, state licensing of doctors (restricting what services non-doctors—including doctors’ assistants—can perform), malpractice court rulings that fault doctors for not being omniscient, and unfavorable tax treatment for individuals (in contrast to groups of employees) who pay for their own health insurance.
Obama bemoaned the fact that doctors have become “paper-pushers.” But that paper pushing is the filling out of government-required forms. Obama called for “medical IT” to computerize the form-filling. But why is there not medical IT already? Private, non-socialized industries already have IT.
Obama bemoaned the fact that insurance premiums have doubled over the past decade. When I was living in New York City in the early 1990s, my insurance premium increased six-fold in two years. The cause was the state government’s instituting of “community rating,” which forced insurance companies to charge premiums based solely on where I lived, regardless of my personal health. Insurance companies were no longer allowed to give me a physical exam.
Obama extolled the benefits of preventive medicine, calling for lower premiums for people who take better care of themselves and “score well” on health tests. But this practice is just what is expressly forbidden by current, community-rating laws. In California, where I now live, insurance companies are not even allowed to offer lower premiums for those who “score well” on an AIDS test:
California law prohibits an HIV test from being required or used by health insurance companies as a condition of obtaining health insurance coverage.
Later in his speech, Obama said this:
We need to end the practice of denying coverage on the basis of preexisting conditions. (Applause.)
Obama has expressed this idea before, and I have shown its absurdity before. But I will add here that this idea is the exact opposite of rewarding people who “score well” on health tests. Moreover, insurance companies are already forced to insure for some pre-existing conditions—such as AIDS—and to provide treatment for unhealthful practices such as substance abuse, thereby driving up insurance premiums for those who do not engage in unhealthful practices. So much for encouraging prevention.
Throughout his speech, Obama bemoaned dire conditions under the current system, evading the fact that these dire conditions have been caused by socialized medicine. His solution is more socialism: more violations of individual rights of life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and property—all in the name of sacrifice of the individual to the collective:
We are not a nation that accepts nearly 46 million uninsured men, women and children. (Applause.) We are not a nation that lets hardworking families go without coverage, or turns its back on those in need. We’re a nation that cares for its citizens. We look out for one another.
In other words: “To each according to his need.”
Yet Obama denies his socialism:
We know the moment is right for health care reform. We know this is a historic opportunity we’ve never seen before and may not see again. But we also know that there are those who will try and scuttle this opportunity no matter what — who will use the same scare tactics and fear-mongering that’s worked in the past; who will give warnings about socialized medicine and government takeovers, long lines and rationed care, decisions made by bureaucrats and not doctors. We have heard this all before. And because these fear tactics have worked, things have kept getting worse.
What is Obama’s argument that he is not advocating socialism? He has none. Instead, he appeals to ridicule, calling his opponents “fear-mongers” and saying the word “socialize” in a mocking tone, and never addressing his opponents’ arguments.
The closest that Obama comes to an actual argument that his plan is not socialism is his claim that his plan is different from a single-payer system—though his only criticism of a single-payer system is the following:
I’ll be honest; there are countries where a single-payer system works pretty well. But I believe — and I’ve taken some flak from members of my own party for this belief — that it’s important for our reform efforts to build on our traditions here in the United States.
In other words, socialized medicine is a good system, but such a system is too much of a change for traditionally capitalist America. In other words, Obama admits that he is a socialist, but he does not believe that Americans would accept socialism.
What then is Obama’s alternative to single-payer socialism? Here is Obama’s description:
So we need to do a few things to provide affordable health insurance to every single American. The first thing we need to do is to protect what’s working in our health care system. So just in case you didn’t catch it the first time, let me repeat: If you like your health care system and your doctor, the only thing reform will mean to you is your health care will cost less. If anyone says otherwise, they are either trying to mislead you or don’t have their facts straight.
Now, if you don’t like your health care coverage or you don’t have any insurance at all, you’ll have a chance, under what we’ve proposed, to take part in what we’re calling a Health Insurance Exchange. This exchange will allow you to one-stop shop for a health care plan, compare benefits and prices, and choose a plan that’s best for you and your family — the same way, by the way, that federal employees can do, from a postal worker to a member of Congress. (Applause.) You will have your choice of a number of plans that offer a few different packages, but every plan would offer an affordable, basic package.
Again, this is for people who aren’t happy with their current plan. If you like what you’re getting, keep it. Nobody is forcing you to shift. But if you’re not, this gives you some new options. And I believe one of these options needs to be a public option that will give people a broader range of choices — (applause) — and inject competition into the health care market so that force — so that we can force waste out of the system and keep the insurance companies honest. (Applause.)
To many people, who do not understand political freedom, Obama’s proposal sounds appealing. After all, Obama is offering more choice, more options, more competition, right?
Perhaps the evil of Obama’s plan is more apparent in this analogy:
So we need to do a few things to provide a desirable wife to every American man. Now, if you don’t like your wife or you don’t have any wife at all, you’ll have a chance, under what we’ve proposed, to take part in what we’re calling a Wife Exchange. You will have your choice of a number of different women, provided by the government.
Again, this is for men who aren’t happy with their current wife. If you like what you’re getting, keep it. Nobody is forcing you to shift. But if you’re not, this gives you some new options. And I believe one of these options needs to be a public option that will give men a broader range of choices.
Oh, and by the way, your current wife will also be made available for other men to choose, as part of their ‘public option’. After all, the government does not create new women out of thin air, any more than it creates new doctors. But don’t worry, we’ll pay her (with your tax money). And if other men choose her, you’ll still be able to share her.
Does that analogy make the meaning of Obama’s plan clearer?
Obama has a tyrant’s notion of ‘choice’. In a free society, individuals engage with each other when such engagement is by mutual consent. A man and woman marry when both the man and the woman choose each other. A purchase is made when the purchaser and the seller agree to the terms of the sale. An employee works for an employer when they both choose such an arrangement and agree to terms.
Obama, on the other hand, wants to give people the option to be served by doctors, in part paid for by taxpayers and in part not paid for at all, even when those doctors and those taxpayers choose not to do so of their own free will. Obama would abolish the principle of trade by mutual consent, and replace it with one party’s choice to coerce the other.
“If you’re not happy with your current cotton-pickers, whom you have to pay, we’ll provide you with the choice of free cotton-pickers.”
This notion is a tyrant’s notion of ‘choice’. This mentality is the mentality of America’s President.