Zoo Station

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At the center of the health care debate, and the economy

Posted by Chance on August 28, 2009

Kat linked to a great article in which the CEO of Whole Foods lists some great steps toward health care reform.

But the reason why these steps won’t be embraced points to the fundamental philosophical differences at the heart of this debate.  Some people trust the individual, some people trust government (and no, they are not necessarily the same).

Government has decided, apparently for our best interest, that it must tell us exactly what insurance we must buy.  If you just want insurance for catastrophic events, too bad (although that’s really what insurance is for in the first place).  This may get worse:

…every American would be required to buy health insurance.

And not just any insurance: to qualify, a plan would have to meet certain government-defined standards. For example, under Section 122(b) of the House bill, all plans must cover hospitalization; outpatient hospital and clinic services; services by physicians and other health professionals, as well as supplies and equipment incidental to their services; prescription drugs, rehabilitation services, mental health and substance-abuse treatment; preventive services (to be determined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the United States Preventive Services Task Force); and maternity, well-baby, and well-child care, as well as dental, vision, and hearing services for children under age 21.

Imagine if this pertained to cars.  You want a Chevy Cobalt or Toyota Corolla, but instead you have to buy the BMW.  Then people complain about how expensive cars are and how the free market has failed.

Or, as Kat has noted in the above-linked post’s comment section:

…I (and several others) have likened the current state of health insurance to having your auto insurance pay to put gas in your car and have your oil changed. I think that’s an apt analogy, as is having your homeowners’ insurance pay to replace lightbulbs and have a yard crew mow your lawn.

Mackey of Whole Foods goes on to list other possible reforms, such as allowing people to have high-deductible Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), abolish laws preventing people from buying insurance across state lines, and basically other things that have worked well in probably every area of the free market.

But again, many won’t buy off on policies that involve less government control and more power to the individual; many will only support policies that give more power to the government and consequently, restricts what choices the individual has.

We see this with the stimulus/TARP bills passed by the last and current administration.  Instead of cutting taxes (even if temporarily during the recession) to allow more money to flow into the economy, people want more money to go to the federal government, and it decides how best to spend the money.

So we have the two opposing philosophies.  One centered on freedom and one centered on control.  One centered on the individual and one centered on government.  And I don’t see government solving a lot of problems.

A note:

Now, don’t get me wrong:  I must issue this caveat because any time I talk of freedom some commenters start getting nervous.  Just because I talk about freedom doesn’t mean I’m talking about anarchy.  Sometimes  people get confused.  I mention the validity of people protesting the amount of taxes and what they are spent on and all of a sudden I don’t believe in taxes at all.  The individuals must have rules so that they can’t hurt other people.  But I think there is a very visible line between the government protecting people from hurting each other vs. the government deciding what is best for everyone.

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