A Frightening Prospect
By Robert Romano
“The goal of health care reform is not to protect the private health insurance industry. And I am so confident in the superiority of the public health care option that I think [the industry] has every reason to be frightened. I know that many of you here today are single payer advocates, and so am I. So am I!”—Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), at a speech on April 18, 2009 at a rally for health care “reform” in Chicago.
In these rare instances, it is important to take note and consider what the nation's elected officials are actually up to. What their intentions really are. Because, when you do, what you hear may at once be as chilling as it is revealing.
At a recent health care “reform” rally, Representative Jan Schakowsky directly advocated for single payer, total government health care. But she did not stop there. She went as far as to say what will eventually happen to private insurance that most Americans use.
She related a recent anecdote, “[N]ext to me was a guy from the insurance company who… argued against the public health insurance option, saying it would not let private insurance companies compete. That a public option will put the private insurance industry out of business and lead to single payer. My single payer friends, he was right! The man was right.”
This is frightening, both when you consider the facts and the intent of Ms. Schakowsky's statement.
First the facts. As of 2006, the Census Bureau estimates that some 201.7 million, or 71.5 percent of Americans with health insurance, get their insurance privately. Only 28.5 percent of those with insurance, or 80.3 million, get it from the government.
Now, consider what Ms. Schakowksy would do: force the nearly 202 million Americans with their own insurance to scrap their plans and turn them in for a new, single payer, socialized medicine government health plan. Lump in the 47 million the Census estimates do not have health insurance, plus the 80.3 million already on the government dole, and then you wind up with 329 million individual health plans—all provided and paid for by government. The same government that can't make the trains run on time, delivers mail at a deficit, and has bankrupted Social Security.
And the cost to taxpayers? If one goes by the $4,700 average premium for single coverage that the National Coalition on Health Care estimates, then the total cost annually would be $1.546 trillion. Or, more safely, one could go by the 2007 figure of $2.4 trillion in total health care spending to start to comprehend what single payer would actually mean to already-overburdened taxpayers in terms of a price tag.
In essence, Ms. Schakowsky believes that the government will handle 17 percent of the GDP better than the American people themselves when it comes to health care decisions. And, again, this is the same government that has balanced its budget only six times since 1950—and increased the national debt $1.7 billion a day since 2007.
And that is frightening. But it's only the start of this nightmare. That's right, $2.4 trillion is just the beginning. The price tag, NCHC projects, will rise to $3.1 trillion by 2012, and $4.3 trillion by 2016.
To be fair, Ms. Schakowsky would undoubtedly look at the same set of facts and declare the need for single payer, government-provided health care. Only then, she would argue, could costs be controlled. As if government ever really controlled a price in its life.
Price controls, of course, do not work. And, they certainly would not keep hospitals open. The reason health costs continue to increase is because of all the bad debt medical institutions eat every year, leaving those who do pay to also pay for those who do not. When a hospital goes into the red on account of unpaid medical bills, it has to raise costs.
And if the government were paying all of the bills—out of taxpayers' pockets, of course—the situation would only get worse. Instead of the pool of payers paying for the non-payers, next it will be the diminishing pool of taxpayers forced to pay for the non-taxpayers in the system. It would be the same problem faced today, except instead of some 202 million people paying their own way, it would be 329 million covered under the government's plan—none of whom could afford to pay the bills foisted upon them by an over-extended, out-of-control government Leviathan.
So, when single payer becomes reality, advocates say that the unpaid bills will be eliminated, and prices will stabilize. But in reality, demand will increase because use will increase, which means prices will have to increase in tandem beyond present levels. And no one will be left to pay the ruinous prices.
As a consequence, the quality of care will decrease. The costs will continue to rise. In the meantime, the nation will be bankrupted. And people will die. There's really no other way to put it.
Thank you, Ms. Schakowsky.
Robert Romano is the Senior Editor of ALG News Bureau.