Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Test Drive the New Health Care Plan

Free! Who doesn’t like the word “free?” I’m a bargain-shopper, I clip coupons and shop the sales, so of course I always notice the word “free.”Well, I have to admit I’m starting to hate it, especially since the resurgence of the government health care debate. And let’s call it what it is: GOVERNMENT health care.

I don’t want to get into the facts, figures and statistics they’ll toss at us to try to sell it. Let’s just look at basic economic principles.

The president says if you like your current health care plan, you can keep it. If you don’t have a health care plan, or are dissatisfied with your current plan, you can opt in to the government plan. They call this the public option. Sounds good so far, right? Sounds fair?

But take the emotion out of the issue. Instead, let’s talk about something simpler, like cars, and restate that premise.

If you like your current car, you can keep driving it. If you don’t have a car, or are dissatisfied with your current car, you can opt for a government car. All of a sudden that doesn’t sound so fair, does it? Cars cost money, and the people who are driving cars they like, people who spent good money for those cars, see other people getting free cars. And what’s worse, the people paying to keep their own cars realize that they must also be paying for the free cars somehow.

What would any reasonably intelligent car owner do in this situation? If he’s looking out for himself, he’s running as fast as he can to the government car handout center.

But suddenly, there’s one less car owner paying his way. Suddenly, the car dealership has one less customer. Suddenly, other people realize this bargain too, and rush off to get their own government car. Everyone gets a “freebie.” YAY!!!!

Except the car dealer goes out of business. And then people discover that the government cars take a while to come in. Sometimes a long while. And people discover the government cars aren’t always the greatest; instead they get whatever cars happen to be on the government lot.

Now go back to health care. As more people sign on to the free health care option, and more businesses stop paying for employees’ health care, private insurance will completely disappear. That’s not promoting health care choices! And consider this: the government pays doctors a lot less for Medicaid patients than insurance companies do. Will doctors even want to continue to practice medicine if they’re only going to be paid by the government? That LIMITS your choices even further. The government has already made a mess of Medicaid and Social Security. Are these the people you’re going to trust with your health care?

The lesson here, just like your mom taught you all those years ago, is this: nothing in life is “FREE.”

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