Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Real ‘Public Option’

The news of late has been filled with great debate about health care reform and ‘the public option.’  The would-be health care reformers have also talked about health care co-ops as an alternative.  In both of these, the government is a key player, and it plays by dictating what people can do about their health care.

This is amusingly ironic, especially since most of those pushing for one of these arrangements call themselves Democrats.  That would lead us to believe that they are advocates of democracy.  They also fancy themselves advocates of ‘the public’ in the sense of ordinary people – whatever those are.

So I have a proposal for the Democrats, if they are anything that their name and their claims imply.  Why not simply allow the public to use the most democratic option available for health care (or anything else)?  This option is the market where voluntary buyers and sellers meet for mutual benefit.

Suppose your approach to health care is health insurance.  (That might not be the best approach, but let’s grant the assumption for now.)  If there really are forty-six million un- (health) insured persons in the U. S. of A. then all those who want insurance can form a mutual insurance company – that is, one owned by the policy-holders.  That allows them to by-pass those evil insurance company executives and profits.  All the government needs to do to help this happen is to, legislatively speaking, get out of the way.  This is just one suggestion.  Maybe some people, for very good reasons, do not want health insurance.  Free people should be able to make that decision.  (If we are slaves of the state, that would be another matter.)

There simply is no need for Congress to legislate on the matter of health insurance if they believe in democracy.  People can vote with their dollars, and they always do, for what they want.  All the government needs to do is let them keep their dollars with which they vote.  Think of it this way:  when the government collects our money from us by taxes or other means, it disenfranchises us in the market place, so to speak.

And when voting on health care takes place in the market, rather than in Congress, the rights of minorities are duly respected.  If one hundred millions Americans want to form one or more co-ops, let them at it.  If another hundred million want to start mutual health insurance companies, then they can go for it.  And if a relatively small minority, say ten million, want to be customers of Blue Cross and Blue Shield, they should have the minority right to do so.  I thought Congressional Democrats believed in minority rights.  They like to tell us they do, at least.

Does the government have a role in all this?  Yes, and it involves getting itself out of the way.  Removing obstacles like ridiculously high liability on doctors might help.  Getting the FDA out of the way might help.  Getting the government out of the way in general could do nothing but help.

Let people vote with their dollars for the health care they want.  It’s democracy.  The only real alternative is government dictating what health insurance or health care we must have.  That’s dictatorship.

P.S. – If you insist on some version of the dictatorship approach, don’t be surprised or complain when people compare you to other dictators, e.g., Adolph Hitler.

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