Thursday, July 23, 2009

Health Care "Access" vs. Health Insurance

I discussed in an earlier post the difference between health care and health insurance and observed that the issue is not the former, but the latter. Indeed, most people are satisfied with the health care they receive and no one can be denied emergency health care.

No one is proposing a government takeover of health care, per se, but President Barak Obama and Congressional Democrats are proposing a federalization of health insurance. However, the federalization of health insurance will lead to increased government regulation of health care, to the point that it will resemble fascism more so than socialism, just like the Obama Administration's takeover of much of the automobile industry. The main concern with federal regulation of health care is that it will lead to the rationing of health care by a massive federal bureaucracy in order to reduce costs, as well federal government decision making in what foods or behavior are acceptable. In short, although the federal government will not take over health care beyond veterans' care and certain other exceptions, it will essentially control it.

Liberal supporters of the federalization of health insurance and federal government-run health care sometimes use another misleading term in addition to "health care" when referring to health insurance in order to conflate the two: "access" to health care. Saying that they want to give people "access to health care" implies that they currently lack access to health care and worse, that such people may even be denied health care. No one may be denied health care who can pay for it -- as even many of those without health insurance can do to at least some degree -- and no one may be denied emergency health care even if one cannot pay for it. In other words, no one totally lacks access to health care. Obama and the Congressional Democrats are not proposing to give people access to health care who already have it. Their intent is to subsidize health insurance as a form of welfare -- to the point of driving all private health insurance providers out of the business in order to establish a federal monopoly.

Although federalized health insurance might increase some people's access to preventative or other non-emergency health care because they would otherwise not be able to afford it, it will not increase access to health care for many people because they already have it, even many who do not have health insurance. Worse, federalized health insurance will come at the expense of other patients who will be denied access to health care -- even lifesaving treatment -- because of the need to ration health care in order to hold down costs.

There are less Draconian ways to decrease the costs of health care and give greater access to health care. Alas, one of the best ways to reduce health care costs -- tort reform, which would reduce the medical malpractice insurance premiums doctors must pay -- is strongly opposed by Obama and the Congressional Democrats.

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