Ed Driscoll

The Brave New World Of "Fannie Med"

At Real Clear Politics, John Stossel writes, “No matter how honorable the central planners’ intentions, they will fail because they cannot know the needs and wishes of 300 million different people. And if they somehow did know their needs, they wouldn’t know them tomorrow”:

Proponents of so-called reform — it’s not really reform unless it makes things better — have shamefully avoided criticism of their proposals. Often they just dismiss their opponents as greedy corporate apologists or paranoid right-wing loonies. That’s easier than answering questions like these:

1) How can the government subsidize the purchase of medical services without driving up prices? Econ 101 teaches — without controversy — that when demand goes up, if other things remain equal, price goes up. The politicians want to have their cake and eat it, too.

2) How can the government promise lower medical costs without restricting choices? Medicare already does that. Once the planners’ mandatory insurance pushes prices to new heights, they must put even tougher limits on what we may buy — or their budget will be even deeper in the red than it already is. As economist Thomas Sowell points out, government cannot really reduce costs. All it can do is disguise and shift costs (through taxation) and refuse to pay for some services (rationing).

3) How does government “create choice” by imposing uniformity on insurers? Uniformity limits choice. Under House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s bill and the Senate versions, government would dictate to all insurers what their “minimum” coverage policy must include. Truly basic high-deductible, low-cost catastrophic policies tailored to individual needs would be forbidden.

4) How does it “create choice” by making insurance companies compete against a privileged government-sponsored program? The so-called government option, let’s call it Fannie Med, would have implicit government backing and therefore little market discipline. The resulting environment of conformity and government power is not what I mean by choice and competition. Rep. Barney Frank is at least honest enough to say that the public option will bring us a government monopoly.

So socialized medicine will be the equivilent of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? What could go wrong?

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