May 18, 2024

Single-Payer Healthcare is a Trap

We should judge our programs by their results, not their good intentions

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One of my all-time heroes, Dr. Milton Friedman, once said that we should judge our programs by their results, not their good intentions.  In an earlier 2 Paragraphs edition I discussed this in relationship to minimum wage laws, saying that it was far more productive for a society to have 100 people working for $15 per hour than 75 people working for $20 per hour.  Of course, the harsh reality is that some workers are not (yet) worth $20 per hour, so they will lose their jobs.  (Remember that we used to order our Big Macs from a cashier, but now we order them from a computer.)  And many of those who lose their jobs are young people who have recently entered the work force so they have not yet had the chance to develop a good work ethic.  Accordingly, with the passage of minimum wage laws, they will lose that opportunity showing, yet again, that Milton Friedman was right.

      So that brings us to the current movement to set up a single-payer healthcare system.  Truly sounds good and fair doesn’t it, because no one wants people in any walk of life to go without needed healthcare.  But what would be the result of putting the State in charge?  Can you think of any government program that produces good and cost-effective results?  As an example, remember how California’s Employment Development Department dealt with unemployment insurance during the pandemic?  Waste and fraud prevailed!  So how can we trust the State to manage our healthcare?  In addition, next time you run into medical doctors who get paid with insurance money, ask them what percent of their time is spent dealing with paperwork and bureaucracy.  The answer will probably be a full 35 to 40 percent!  And the bureaucracy will only get worse if the government is in charge.  As Sally Pipes put it in a column she wrote for the February 10, 2020 edition of the Wall Street Journal, “Medicare for all could mean doctors for none.  Under single-payer, drastic pay cuts for physicians would drive sharp young people into other, more lucrative fields.”  Yes, maybe the intentions of people favoring a single-payer system are good and noble, but the results would be disastrous!  Among other things, bureaucrats will decide who should receive what healthcare and, if they need to reduce expenses, will also decide how much to pay the medical providers.  A sure loser!  Instead, allow people to set up Medical Savings Accounts wherein they could choose what they would pay for their healthcare in the Free Market.  Then let the government financially contribute to those accounts for people who have limited resources.  Under this system all participants would have an incentive to act efficiently.  The patients would have an incentive to choose wisely, because all unspent money from their accounts could be rolled over to the next year, and eventually be used for their retirement.  And the doctors would have to compete for your business, so they would act efficiently as well.  Aren’t those the results that all of us want?  So let’s all work to avoid this healthcare trap of single-payer!

Thought for the Week:  Have you ever seen a hearse pulling a U-Haul truck?  (i.e. You can’t take it with you . . .)

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Here is a great idea that I have lifted from Wayne Allyn Root, who was the Libertarian candidate for Vice President in 2008: Candidates should run on a platform of ending all taxes on Social Security. Why? Focus upon this: workers have been required, often for many decades, to pay into Social Security without getting any tax deductions for their contributions. And the government has kept these contributions, often for many decades, without the contributors even receiving any interest on their money whatsoever. So why do we allow the government to tax us on the after-tax money we let them use interest-free for so long? In addition, a retired judge friend of mine made the following comment after reading a draft of this edition: “I’d add that the hardest thing I do when I figure out my 100-year-old Mom’s taxes is figuring the social security taxes with (the necessary) form. And then if I discover a small mistake elsewhere in my taxes, I must start from scratch and redo this form. It occurred to me that lots of 100-year-olds don’t have lawyer sons, nor the means to hire someone with the skill to use an app. What do they do? Horrible.”

Thus, fundamentally, this idea is about fairness – and it is totally workable. In fact, most Americans don’t even remember that Social Security was never taxed until 1984. So if it wasn’t taxed before then why should it be now? Furthermore, many of the Social Security recipients often live hand to mouth, so this action is not only about fairness, it is about assisting potentially millions of retired Americans to pay their bills in this time of high inflation. As a result, political candidates should rightfully run on the “Save the Seniors” banner! Not only would this movement be practical, it would truly be the fair and right thing to do!

Quote for the week: “Never regard study as a duty but as an enviable opportunity to learn.” Albert Einstein

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Started in 2016, the Jack News provides a pragmatic look at political discussion with some satire. An independent journalistic endeavor, we have no ties to other media outlets or services. We write our own commentary and form our own opinions. 

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