By Dave Jarvis
Today, in the race for the Republican nomination for Congress in CD1, my competition argues that universal healthcare is essentially socialism. I would ask them to consider that with every American currently having access to either the emergency room, charitable care, or for Medicare, healthcare costs in American are already socialized and will be for the remainder of our history since we can't and shouldn't bear to see Americans dying in the street for lack of medical care. They also argue for the free market as the proper approach to skyrocketing healthcare costs. My question to them is...free market? What free market? Sure, there is a very obvious free market for health insurance but not for healthcare products themselves. And there is a free market for less expensive healthcare goods and services; that market is called the supermarket. And maybe for even more expensive products that can be purchased through medical wholesalers there may be something we could consider a free market. However the expensive goods that might actually have a price tag on them with available statistics regarding its value may be well outside the price range of the ordinary American except if they are using health insurance, and in that case the health insurance company would have their own price tag that is in no way negotiable with the consumer.
Free markets have transparent prices. Health products and services in the United States do not. Free markets have transparent means of qualifying the value of a product or service relational to price. Healthcare in this country does not. Free markets involve all the drama of a point to point purchase where the consumer evaluates value and price and stands to benefit financially from choosing the lesser price, and benefit personally from greater value. In our current healthcare system the only financial beneficiary is the health insurance company and the health professionals, and value is left to chance and the professional integrity of the medical community.
We are in the dark ages of healthcare funding. We have lords and vassals and the vassals have no choice but to pay the lords and take whatever comes. What we need in healthcare is the industry equivalent of the home mortgage where financial decisions can be made by the consumer while the bulk payment is carried by a much larger institution. Without the consumer controlling their own destiny, without them making free and unfettered decisions, our healthcare costs whether privatized or nationalized will bankrupt our nation.
Change will not happen on its own. The lords like the system this way. They enjoy great wealth because of it, and they hold an incredible amount of political power being in control of the lives and well being of three hundred million Americans. The only intelligent answer is to nationalize healthcare utilizing the huge amount of political will to do so from the left. And then we build it the way every conservative knows it should be, with a real market and transparent prices, with market statistics regarding value readily available, and with consumers holding the keys to their own kingdom. One sentence should make the whole argument...three hundred million Americans all striving to choose the best quality, best priced healthcare products.
The only plan we have that allows consumers full access to markets, encourages them to choose the best prices and economize, and yet is still a single payer system is our national food stamp program. And I think it should be the new model for healthcare funding. In such a system, necessary healthcare funds would go into an ebt card where once the product is consumed the consumer would have access to any remaining funds. It makes sense on a micro level where decisions are made free of any bureaucracy and has the immediate effect of making healthcare professionals compete for business with lower prices and more attention to value. And it makes sense on the macro level as an economic mechanism much in the same vein as social security, working like a shock absorber with consumers choosing value in good times thus pumping excess money through the system, and with consumers choosing lower prices in difficult times allowing the entire economy to save. With such a plan in place, Social Security's place as the only economic buffer in difficult times would be replaced by a much more efficient economic shock absorber.
Now, if the Right were to continue fighting against the concept of universal coverage they may lose their place in the essential debate as to how a national system might look. And the way a universal system will work is vastly more important than the idea of universal coverage itself and even than the idea of the plan being government funded. So, the Right doesn't have to provide the gas. The Right doesn't have to drive. But, the Right most certainly should be in the car, preferably in the passenger seat with with the road map in hand, gently guiding his strong willed friend on the left in the right direction.