Friday, November 21, 2008

Insurers Asking To Be Socialized

Brian Schwartz has alerted us to the following story in the November 19, 2008 Denver Post:
Insurers make pitch for health coverage mandate

The health insurance industry said Wednesday it will support a national health care overhaul that requires them to accept all customers, regardless of pre-existing medical conditions—but in return it wants lawmakers to mandate that everyone buy coverage.
Of course, these companies would stand to make money in the short term if everyone were required to buy their policies. But once the costs leap out of control, the government will start imposing rationing, clamping down on payments to insurers as well as services covered.

As Grace-Marie Turner of the Galen Institute predicts, this will then destroy private insurance and leave us with no alternative except a "single-payer" (i.e., government-run) medical system.

In his essay "Health Care is Not a Right", Dr. Leonard Peikoff uses the following analogy of the haircut to illustrate this point:
Take the simplest case: you are born with a moral right to hair care, let us say, provided by a loving government free of charge to all who want or need it. What would happen under such a moral theory?

Haircuts are free, like the air we breathe, so some people show up every day for an expensive new styling, the government pays out more and more, barbers revel in their huge new incomes, and the profession starts to grow ravenously, bald men start to come in droves for free hair implantations, a school of fancy, specialized eyebrow pluckers develops -- it's all free, the government pays. The dishonest barbers are having a field day, of course -- but so are the honest ones; they are working and spending like mad, trying to give every customer his heart's desire, which is a millionaire's worth of special hair care and services -- the government starts to scream, the budget is out of control.

Suddenly directives erupt: we must limit the number of barbers, we must limit the time spent on haircuts, we must limit the permissible type of hair styles; bureaucrats begin to split hairs about how many hairs a barber should be allowed to split.

A new computerized office of records filled with inspectors and red tape shoots up; some barbers, it seems, are still getting too rich, they must be getting more than their fair share of the national hair, so barbers have to start applying for Certificates of Need in order to buy razors, while peer review boards are established to assess every stylist's work, both the dishonest and the overly honest alike, to make sure that no one is too bad or too good or too busy or too unbusy. Etc.

In the end, there are lines of wretched customers waiting for their chance to be routinely scalped by bored, hog-tied haircutters some of whom remember dreamily the old days when somehow everything was so much better.

Do you think the situation would be improved by having hair-care cooperatives organized by the government? -- having them engage in managed competition, managed by the government, in order to buy haircut insurance from companies controlled by the government?

If this is what would happen under government-managed hair care, what else can possibly happen -- it is already starting to happen -- under the idea of health care as a right?
Whether the insurers realize it or not, they're committing slow suicide, and threatening to take the rest of us down with them.

Whether we let them is up to us...