Pay attention, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards, and everyone else who thinks that government-mandated and government-run universal health insurance is a panacea:
It’s being field-tested in Massachusetts right now — and it’s not pretty.
First up, anyone who can’t afford insurance on their own will be covered by a plan heavily subsidized by the state. While that sound all nice and warm and fuzzy, remember that the government has no money of its own. The only money it has is what it takes from its people. In other words, the state will pay for these people’s health insurance with money it takes from them and other citizens.
Secondly, some doctors are deciding to opt out of the whole idea and move out of state. Leading the charge is New Hampshire’s own Giacomo, who will soon be hanging his shingle on the right side of the New Hampshire/Massachusetts state line. The state does have the power to dictate how much they will pay doctors, but the doctors have the power to say that they won’t accept any state-paid patients — or to just get the hell out of the state entirely.
I’m not sure how this will play out on a national scale, though, but the possibility of a lot of primary care physicians might decide to become specialists (where they are far less subject to pricing controls) or get out of practicing medicine altogether and go into a related field, like pure research, is certainly one that must be considered. The government can demand that doctors accept price controls, but it cannot command them to practice — we kind of outlawed that sort of thing back during the Civil War.
Thirdly, there’s the whole “you VILL have health insurance, or ELSE” mentality. Right now, of you choose to “flout the law” (to use the Boston Globe’s own words) and not buy insurance, they will fine you $912 a year. This is more than four times the first year’s penalty of $219.
P. J. O’Rourke summed it up in “Parliament Of Whores:” the government has, essentially, a very big stick when it comes to getting people to comply. If you don’t obey, they will fine you or arrest you. If they fine you and you don’t pay, they arrest you, so there’s not much difference. And if you try to escape, they’ll kill you.
Right now, “in the common good” and “for your own good,” the state says that not only can you get affordable insurance, you MUST get it. If you don’t want it, or just don’t feel like proving it to the state, they’ll fine you. And they’ll keep fining you. If you don’t pay the fine, they’ll arrest you and toss you in jail.
Where you won’t need health insurance, because you’ll be the property of the state, and the state will be responsible for your health care.
The only difference is that the situation will be a hell of a lot more honest.