08 May 2011

To Finity and Beyond

Here’s the underlying problem with Medicare, universal health care, and any and all attempts at reform:

Putting aside, for the moment, the details of the Ryan plan, what many voters refuse to understand is the unpleasant choice they inevitably face. Either cost-control by the consumers or cost-control (aka rationing) by the State.  The issue is stark.
Either consumers directly or indirectly will communicate to healthcare providers the need to economize or the State will put limits on what people can get. The thing is Americans don’t want to have to do the former nor allow the latter to happen. The “advantage” of State limits is that they feed fantasies Americans may still have about State magic. Stones into bread, and all that. We can all get the best care regardless of cost. (Keep in mind I want the best care regardless of cost too!)

The underlying problem with government-run health care programs is that they fail to solve the problem of scarcity.  Politicians may promise unlimited resources and voters may believe those promises, but the simple fact of the matter is that there are not, in fact, unlimited resources available.

That resources are scarce implies that there MUST be some form of rationing.  Democrats and their lapdogs in the mainstream media mocked Republican candidates for claiming that ObamaCare would lead to so-called “death panels.”  And the Republicans are right:  Government appropriation of health care doesn’t alleviate the need for rationing.  Since health care costs are highest for the elderly, and the highest medical costs occur during the last year of one’s life, some sort of “death panel” rationing system is not entirely inconceivable.

Thus, the debate is erroneously framed as unlimited health care versus elitist limited health care.  (This is, of course, a hyperbolic simplification.  However, the general point remains.)  The debate would be more accurately framed if it were described as state-based rationing versus market-based rationing of health care.  This way, citizens would more inclined to compare the relative equitability of the competing methods of rationing, and would hopefully be more likely to make the better choice.

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