America’s health care system ailments, such as skyrocketing costs and restrictions on the freedom to choose a doctor, are prevalently ascribed to our mixed economy’s capitalist aspects, while their alleged remedies lie in the economy’s other aspect: statist, socialist controls. In reality, such controls cause, increase and intensify these ailments.
Thanks to freedom and capitalism, America’s has the world’s best health care system, but socialist controls continue to erode this status. The current trend in health care controls are government-mandated HMOs. They forcibly reduce costly bills — which government controls caused — by limiting care to high-risk patients and by financing their expenses with the surplus money of healthier patients. Thus, insurers are pressured to drop costly and risky patients. Under HMOs, the more the “gatekeeper”, i.e., the bureaucrat, can save money by denying treatment, the more he is paid.
Doctors join HMOs because they fear this government-backed system will eliminate their business if they remain in private practice. Patients are encouraged to join HMOs by their employers, who are compelled to offer health insurance, as government allows tax relief for health care coverage only to businesses, not to individuals. Managed care dominates the market and raises premiums considerably for (self-employed) individuals because the market shrinks for them. The tax code and government intervention on behalf of HMOs forces health insurers to treat everyone as a big collective.
HMOs are playing a more prominent role in health care primarily because Medicare’s bankruptcy is becoming more apparent. Vascular surgeon Dr. David Loiterman told the Chicago Sun Times that “about 65 percent of his practice is with Medicare patients, but they make up only 12 percent of his income”. Such decreased payments to doctors who treat Medicare patients are compensated via “cost-shifting” — that is, the extra cost of treating Medicare patients are imposed on younger, privately funded patients.
“If you are under 35, the money expropriated for Medicare from your paycheck is going to pay for people who are currently over 65,” says Scott Holleran, editorial director of the educational organization Americans for Free Choice in Medicine (AFCM). “Though Medicare ‘contributions’ ostensibly go to cover part of your health care expenses over age 65, if you are young, you are not going to see a dime of that money.”
Another socialist control is the Kennedy-Kassebaum law, which Congress passed overwhelmingly in 1996. It criminalizes a health insurer’s refusal to cover patients with pre-existing conditions. He is forced to offer health insurance regardless of the patients health. Says Scott Holleran, “This is like forcing an insurer to write a homeowner’s policy on a house which has already caught fire.” Thus, insurance premiums would skyrocket and again the bureaucratic ‘gatekeeper’ would have to intensify pressure to withhold care. The inevitable end is a complete managed, rationed nationalized health care system.
“From cradle to grave, an individual has no real choice in contracting for private medical care,” says Scott Holleran. “Federal and state government steals your money to pay for Medicare, Medicaid, and state programs, and, if you are covered by your employer, your choices of health plans are decreasing. Therefore, your choice of doctors is vanishing [as] the quality of medicine [is] deteriorating.”
Indications of this deterioration are government paying hospitals not to train doctors, and medical schools whose ‘dumbed down’ curriculum and affirmative action programs discourage ability in their admissions. Those quitting their profession due to their restricted freedoms and abilities are the best among physicians, surgeons, psychotherapists, psychiatrists, respiratory therapists, nurses, hospital staff workers, laboratory technicians, pharmacists and insurance agents. If this trend continues, competent individuals in these professions will become extinct.
The best step away from this deterioration are Medical Savings Accounts. The amount your employer pays in health insurance is saved in a tax free medical account, of which you use the money therein to purchase your own health insurance and medical care, whether it is a $250 deductible policy, an HMO, a catastrophic insurance policy, or anything you want.
MSAs will greatly reduce health care costs by instituting a freer market and allowing individuals to exercise judgment and economy in regard to a medical plan and doctor. They’ll allow younger and healthier individuals to leave pre-paid programs and exempt their surplus money from being stolen to cover the government-induced costly care of others.
In 1996, Congress inaugurated these ‘experimental’ accounts; although they are currently limited to fewer than one million self-employed Americans. MSAs are the most effective solution to phasing out all destructive, statist health care plans, such as Medicare and government-mandated HMOs.