Friday, August 31, 2007

Orange County Register Editorial on Universal Health Care

The following is a reprint of an August 31, 2007, editorial form the Orange County Register:

Friday, August 31, 2007
Today's editorial: Insuring everyone with others' money
Letting the government order coverage for everyone will only raise prices.
An Orange County Register Editorial

Californians shouldn't be fooled into thinking government can make health insurance more affordable or more available by mandating it or taxing it.

People intuitively know how absurd it would be for government to force them to buy food for everyone. The demand for food would soar if everyone knew whatever they wanted to eat would be paid for by someone else. No one can afford to feed that appetite. Why, then, do people have a difficult time seeing the absurdity of government forcing people to pay for everyone's health care?

Democrats in the state Legislature and Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger want to force near-universal health care insurance onto Californians before the Legislature adjourns in mid-September. They would mandate it and force people to pay for it. Why would anyone think the effect would be any different than it would be for food?

Health care costs are rising, already pricing many people out of the market for insurance. Rising costs are partly due to expensive technological advances, and research and development. But the underlying cause is demand.

Think of demand as an expression of appetite, a desire that seeks to attain or possess. When people can get more at someone else's expense, their appetite increases. But when people must pay out of their own pocket, they curb their appetites and evaluate what they're paying for. They weigh what is to be gained against the cost. The government system is an invitation to overspend, or, worse, to have government decide what's necessary, rather than a patient, doctor or insurer.

Unfortunately, politicians are in the appetite-feeding business. They see people without health care insurance and offer to buy it for them – with someone else's money. The Democrat plan, Assembly Bill 8, would impose a 7.5 percent payroll tax on all employers. Gov. Schwarzenegger's plan would impose 2 percent tax on doctors and 4 percent taxes on hospitals and employers of 10 or more. Both plans merely shift costs to someone else. It's a prescription for wanting even more. While neither proposal precludes people from paying for procedures privately if they want them, they impose new costs, regardless of whether they are wanted.

In a way, insurance companies operate similarly, but on a voluntary basis. Everyone pays a premium, and from the proceeds people receive coverage for specified treatments. Ideally, people would keep costs low by buying only coverage they need. Young people less likely to be ill might buy less insurance. Others may opt for high deductibles to pay correspondingly lower premiums, insuring against catastrophes and paying smaller expenses out of pocket.

Government doesn't operate that way. To satisfy every appetite, government requires coverage that people may not need or want, rather than letting individuals make personal decisions. Insurance companies have pulled out of some states because of unprofitable, costly mandated coverage required by governments.

It's bad enough when government mandates the types and amounts of coverage that must be sold and purchased, driving up prices. It's worse when government forces employers to provide insurance or to pay into a fund for the government to provide it, as the current schemes in Sacramento would.

Rising health care costs are a problem. But never will everyone be able to afford every medical treatment or procedure. So, appetites must be curbed. Individuals can do that if they are allowed to exercise discipline in a private market. It will never happen if pandering politicians make arbitrary decisions to feed every appetite.

Government can make health care more affordable and accessible by getting out of the insurance business and by reducing mandates on those in the business. Unfortunately, the trend in Sacramento is going in the opposite direction.

John Pack
Low Cost Health Insurance

Monday, August 27, 2007

California Health Care Survey

A survey directed to California business owners can be found on the website of Orange County Assemblywoman Mimi Walters at California Health Care Survey

Please take the time to complete the survey, as all business owners will be affected by the health plans currently under consideration in the state of California.

John Pack
Low Cost Health Insurance

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Let's Watch Wisconsin Suffer

Following is a recent column by syndicated columnist and host of ABC News "20/20" John Stossel.

Friday, August 10, 2007
John Stossel: Let's watch Wisconsin suffer
State's new universal health insurance can educate rest of us with its failure
Syndicated Columnist and Host of ABC News "20/20"

"On, Wisconsin ... run the ball clear down the field!"

It's time to amend the Wisconsin football fight song so we can cheer on the Badger State's politicians as they move toward health-care socialism.

The Wall Street Journal editorial page editors are upset that Wisconsin's state Senate passed "Healthy Wisconsin," which will give health insurance to every person in the state. Of course, the Journal editors are right in saying that the plan is "openly hostile to market incentives that contain costs" and that the "Cheesehead nation could expect to attract health care free-riders while losing productive workers who leave for less-taxing climes."

In addition, as the Journal put it, "Wow, is 'free' health care expensive. The plan would cost an estimated $15.2 billion, or $3 billion more than the state currently collects in all income, sales and corporate income taxes."

And, of course, down the road it will cost much more than that. Even the $15 billion is based on the usual Pollyannaish assumptions such as millions in savings "from putting more emphasis on primary care."

As usual, most of the new taxes will be imposed on employers. Progressives believe money taken from employers doesn't cost anything. Rich corporations will simply waste less on lavish perks and excess profits. But taxes on business are often paid by workers, stockholders and consumers. Businesses that can't pass the taxes on to someone else will close or move out of state.

But progressives are oblivious to this fact. They see Wisconsin becoming a fairyland of health happiness supervised by the 16-person "authority" that will oversee the plan. Socialism will work this time because the "right" people will be in charge.

Does it never occur to the progressives that the legislature's intrusion into private contracts is one reason health care and health insurance are expensive now? The average annual health insurance premium for a family in Wisconsin is $4,462 partly because Wisconsin imposes 29 mandates on health insurers: Every policy must cover chiropractors, dentists, genetic testing, etc. Think chiropractors are quacks? Too bad. You still must pay them to treat people in your state.

Want to buy insurance from another state, like nearby Michigan, where an average policy costs less? Too bad. It's against the law to buy across state lines. Your state's Big Brother knows best.

The Journal writes about a "last line of defense against" Healthy Wisconsin, but I say, let Wisconsin try it! Their suffering will be for the greater good.

As I interview people for an upcoming health care TV special, I'm struck by how many hate the current semi-free-market system America has now. I say "semi" because it's not a free market when about half the health care bill is funded by government. But it's still better than socialism. It allows for innovation like the creation of better drugs, joint replacements, artificial hearts, LASIK eye surgery, and who-knows-what-else that may reduce pain and extend my life.

Socialism will kill that, but people seem to like socialism, at least when it's sold as free stuff from politicians. Wisconsin's Capital Times reports that "two-thirds of Wisconsin residents support the Democratic plan – even when presented with opponents' arguments that it would be a 'job killer' that could lead to higher taxes."

That's why America needs "Healthy Wisconsin." The fall of the Soviet Union deprived us of the biggest example of how socialism works. We need laboratories of failure to demonstrate what socialism is like. All we have now is Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea, the U.S. Post Office and state motor-vehicle departments.

It's not enough. Wisconsin can show the other 49 states what "universal" coverage is like.

I feel bad for the people in Wisconsin. They already suffer from little job creation, and the Packers haven't been winning, but it's better to experiment with one state than all of America.

John Pack
Low Cost Health Insurance

Friday, August 3, 2007

Coalition for Responsible Healthcare Reform

With over 6.6 million Californians without health insurance, covering the uninsured is a top priority for our state. The Coalition for Responsible Healthcare Reform supports efforts to reform the healthcare system in a way that does not damage, jeopardize or increase costs for California consumers and families who already have coverage.

It is the coalition's position that as healthcare consumers, Californians simply can’t allow ill-considered reforms to damage the healthcare system. They support comprehensive reform that ensures healthcare:

Is affordable
Is accessible to all Californians
Provides choice and flexibility to consumers

For more information about the coalition and their position on healthcare reform, please visit Coalition for Responsible Healthcare Reform

John Pack
Low Cost Health Insurance

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Rudy Giuliani Unveils Health Plan

Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani recently unveiled a consumer oriented solution to the nation's health care woes that relies on providing individuals tax credits to purchase private insurance. Please go here for a summary of Giuliani's plan:

Rudy Giuliani's Health Plan

John Pack
Low Cost Health Insurance