UNIVERSAL COVERAGE: CURTAILING LIBERTY TO TREAT SYMPTOMS

The last time I was pulled over by a policeman for a traffic violation, the first piece of documentation he asked for was my insurance card. That’s right. Before showing any interest in my driver’s license, car registration, or even a valid ID, he wanted to verify that I was in compliance with my state’s law mandating auto insurance for every driver. I remember thinking, “This is not a cop. This is an enforcer for Allstate.”

Now, we have a variety of “reformers? pushing for similar legislation mandating health insurance coverage. The pretext for this movement is the health care “crisis.? The NYT pitches it as follows:

Requiring people who can afford health insurance to buy it — the same way that car owners must buy auto insurance — appeals to those who believe that mandatory coverage is fairer than asking everyone else, directly or indirectly, to pick up the health care costs of those who choose not to buy it.

Only the NYT could see such a dramatic imposition on individual freedom as somehow “fairer? than allowing consumers full autonomy in a free market.  Even worse, the “Gray Lady? and its “progressive? accomplices are apparently unable to comprehend that such a brazen curtailment of free choice wouldn’t even cure the underlying disease afflicting American health care.

As I have pointed out before, the plight of the fabled uninsured is a symptom. Structuring a cure around that problem would be like treating skin cancer by covering the malignant moles with cosmetics.  It would create the momentary illusion that a cure had been found, while actually allowing the malady to metastasize.

The actual malady plaguing our medical delivery system is, of course, too much government involvement in the health care market. This intervention has created a mares nest of perverse incentives that causes providers, patients, and third-party payers to make choices they would never make in a market undistorted by the heavy hand of government.

Because the disease is too much government, it obviously follows that the cure is less government. Thus, a heavy-handed imperial mandate requiring everyone to buy health insurance would not only constitute an egregious imposition on individual lliberty, it would exacerbate the disease.

Comments 2

  1. James Lansberry wrote:

    I totally agree. There are some small groups out there trying to show that the government interference in the health care market is the reason for high costs (Medicaid reimburses health care providers a small fraction of what they charge self pay patients) and more government involvement will only make *something* worse. The contention is that administration costs will go down (unlikely) if the government takes over.

    What you’re talking about here, though, is the “conservative” answer to socialized medicine–mandated insurance coverage. Massachusetts passed a law last year requiring just that, and California’s Governator wants to follow suit. Similar legislation has been introduced in several states this year but has thus far thankfully died. There are a few states where the legislatures are still active and may yet pass a similar law.

    Massachusetts is in trouble because they don’t have the money to pay for the subsidies.

    This “conservative” alternative (this ought to concern anyone considering voting for Romney) is being touted as a “private market” alternative. How, we should be asking, is mandating something “private market?”

    Thanks for this blog–I hope it will convince many others. I am no fan of the current messed up health care system–but until the public is willing to wake up and see (the government isn’t going to admit it) that government invention is the root cause of the messed up part it won’t get any better.

    Posted 30 Jun 2007 at 9:50 am
  2. Catron wrote:

    You are indeed correct that Romneycare doesn’t make proper use of the market. I wish Massachusetts had not gone for the whole mandate thing, but it was probably inevitable. As for the “Governator,” he has gone completely off the rails.

    Posted 30 Jun 2007 at 4:41 pm

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