Point-Counterpoint

Stephen Flynn

Ryan Day and I see the same problem: An unacceptable number of Americans suffer preventable deaths, which can be attributed to the millions who cannot afford health insurance. We all want more people to have access to higher quality healthcare. Where Day and I differ is the direction our country should be moving to solve this problem. He wants more government involvement in the healthcare industry while I believe that the healthcare costs can be reduced by better government policies that facilitate competition in a freer market.There are many factors driving the rising cost of healthcare — too many to explore in this article. But one of them is defensive medicine, where doctors order tests for patients that are usually unnecessary in order to mitigate a potential malpractice lawsuit. In this case, government power is being frivolously wielded against medical providers thus increasing everybody’s healthcare costs, and this is something that should be reformed.

The largest component of increased healthcare costs, 57 percent of it, is inflation according to a 2006 report by PricewaterhouseCoopers. Inflation is caused by the Federal Reserve printing money to fund government deficit spending.

Universal healthcare would cause government spending to skyrocket and increase the deficit. A bigger deficit would lead to more inflation which pushes healthcare costs up. If you increase taxes to make up for the deficit then you risk stunting economic growth.

If we want more people to have access to affordable healthcare, we need to free the healthcare market. Ask anybody who took introductory economics: a free market where prices fluctuate according to supply and demand is a more efficient way to allocate resources than the type of central government planning that a universal healthcare system would require. We need federal laws to create an even playing field between employer-provided healthcare and individually purchased plans.

Employer-based health insurance was a creation of the government as the National War Labor Board during World War II exempted fringe benefits such as healthcare from a national wage freeze. To this day, employer-based health benefits are tax deductible and employees are used to the idea of health benefits, which they demand during the job hunt.

Federal laws that mandate different standards between group and individual healthcare plans should be abolished. Employers shouldn’t have the upper hand that makes individual plans impossible to flourish. Creating a free market where patients and doctors, rather than a third party, makes the majority of economic decisions would increase competition between providers and drive down costs thus making healthcare affordable to those millions who don’t have it now.

I don’t want to completely write the laws off. Government can play a useful role in a deregulated healthcare market by promoting transparency and oversight through prosecuting misleading contracts and fraudulent advertising. Government should also help the poorest and most vulnerable members of society pay their medical bills since nobody wants to see people literally dying in the streets.

Those like Day who want universal healthcare promote their cause with the best of intentions, and with good reason. Healthcare costs are skyrocketing and people are dying at the hands of heartless insurance companies. However, the current system is screwed up because of the same kind of government intervention that Day wants to ultimately enhance.

Universal healthcare would be too expensive for the taxpayer, too burdensome for the providers, and would actually make the quality of healthcare worse rather than better in America.

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