Congressional Democrats may well betray Barack Obama’s dream of direct government-run health insurance. But they do appear united, at least, in their determination to bar insurance companies from denying coverage for “pre-existing conditions.”
Telling insurance companies they must offer “coverage” to those with pre-existing conditions is wildly popular -- reporters for local newspapers and TV stations around the country who sat with small groups of senior citizens as they watched the president’s speech Wednesday reported cheers and applause when the president vowed that proviso would remain in any congressional bill.
The problem is that, whatever would be left after such a mandated change, it would no longer be “insurance coverage.”
Insurance, as the term was once understood, meant sharing the risk of outcomes which could not be predicted.
If one ship in 20, sailing to the Orient for tea and spices, was formerly lost to storm or piracy, the owners were free to each contribute 5 percent of the value of each ship and cargo to an “insurance” fund. An owner who lost his ship could thus claim 20 times what he had paid and be made whole. His fellows bore the small loss, knowing it might be they who would lose a ship next year.
Similarly, a hundred workers each paying a percentage of their paycheck for health insurance don’t know which of their number may contract a disease which requires expensive treatment. They are sharing the risk.
But what if now a person who has recently discovered he or she has that disease tries to join their pool, knowing full well he or she will use up everyone else’s pooled “premiums” for his or her treatment in the next year, even though he or she paid nothing to “share the risk” in years past? Such a latecomer is not proposing to “share the risk,” he or she is just seizing the funds everyone else put up in good faith, leaving nothing in the pot anyone else.
If government requires the pool to accept this late-comer, this is no longer “risk sharing.” It’s government-mandated income redistribution, from the healthy to the sick. No wonder the president insists everyone will be “required” to pay their “premiums” in such a scheme. Why else would anyone continue paying into such a manipulated rip-off?
Of course graduates of the socialist government youth propaganda camps who can’t explain why "A must equal A" routinely cheer at the notion that “greedy” insurance companies will be required to fund treatment of their emergent diseases at levels that bear no actuarial relation to any premiums they’ve paid in over time. What’s not to like? It’s free!
Where will the money come from? Will such a scheme bankrupt our children and grandchildren? Who cares?! It’s free!
This is a basic plank of the Eva Peron school of economics. Throw money out the window, and the people will love you. It’s free!
Then the president had the chutzpah to sneer, in his Big Health Care Speech Wednesday night:
“In 1935, when over half of our seniors could not support themselves and millions had seen their savings wiped away, there were those who argued that Social Security would lead to socialism,” and that “In 1965 ... some argued that Medicare represented a government takeover of health care.”
Leave aside, for the moment, how closely this resembles Eugene Lawson in “Atlas Shrugged,” simpering to Hank Rearden “You businessmen have kept predicting disasters for years, you’ve cried catastrophe at every progressive measure and told us that we’ll perish — but we haven’t.”
It’s actually closer to some teenager in a monster movie, branding his chums “scaredy-cats” as they bolt for the woods, never noticing the horrid creature shambling up behind him.
“Nyah, nyah, nyah, you say you’re afraid of socialism but we already have Medicare and Social Security,” chant the redistributionists. I have never quite understood how this differs substantially from a ship’s officer ridiculing your fears that the Titanic may sink, just because it’s been taking on water for hours and now lists 30 degrees. After all, “It hasn’t sunk YET!”
Don’t many doctors now see more than half their patients covered by Medicare, meaning the government tells them what treatments they can prescribe and what they’ll be paid — even regularly “adjusting” those payment rates downward, after the fact? But this represents no trend toward government control of the enterprise?
If Social Security and Medicare have not yet converted our entire economy to redistributionist socialism (such failure being the only reason enough tax revenue still flows in to allow Mr. Obama to indulge his fantasies) we should therefore not be worried now that Mr. Obama wants to push the process further — even as our economy, currency, and government debt teeter on the brink of hyperinflation and systemic collapse?