The current crop of House Republicans is promoting a healthcare scheme to replace Obamacare. But is it any better, when it comes to individual liberty, than what we’re forced into now?
By Ron Paul
The House of Representatives is expected to vote on a Republican bill soon that supposedly repeals Obamacare. However, the bill retains Obamacare’s most destructive features.
That is not to say this legislation is entirely without merit. For example, the bill expands the amount individuals can contribute to a health savings account (HSA). HSAs allow individuals to save money tax-free to pay for routine medical expenses. By restoring individuals’ control over healthcare dollars, HSAs remove the distortions introduced in the healthcare market by government policies encouraging over-reliance on third-party payers.hat
The legislation also contains other positive tax changes, such as a provision allowing individuals to use healthcare tax credits to purchase a “catastrophic-only” insurance policy. Ideally, health insurance should only cover major or catastrophic health events. No one expects their auto insurance to cover routine oil changes, so why should they expect health insurance to cover routine checkups?
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Unfortunately, the bill’s positive aspects are more than outweighed by its failure to repeal Obamacare’s regulations and price controls. Like all price controls, Obamacare distorts the signals that a freely functioning marketplace sends to consumers and producers, thus guaranteeing chaos in the marketplace. The result of this chaos is higher prices, reduced supply, and lowered quality.
Two particularly insidious Obamacare regulations are guaranteed issue and community ratings. As the name suggests, guaranteed issue forces health insurance companies to issue a health insurance policy to anyone who applies for coverage. Community ratings forces health insurance companies to charge an obese couch potato and a physically fit jogger similar premiums. This forces the jogger to subsidize the couch potato’s unhealthy lifestyle.
Obamacare’s individual mandate was put in place to ensure that guaranteed issue and community ratings would not drive health insurance companies out of business. Rather than repealing guaranteed issue and community ratings, the House Republicans’ plan forces those who go longer than two months without health insurance to pay a penalty to health insurance companies when they purchase new policies.
It is hard to feel sympathy for the insurance companies since they supported Obamacare. These companies were eager to accept government regulations in exchange for a mandate that individuals buy their product. But we should feel sympathy for Americans who are struggling to afford, or even obtain, healthcare because of Obamacare and who will obtain little or no relief from Obamacare 2.0.
The underlying problem with the Republican proposal is philosophical. The plan put forth by the alleged pro-free market Republicans implicitly accepts the premise that healthcare is a right that must be provided by government. But rights are inalienable aspects of our humanity, not gifts from government.
If government can give us rights, then it can also limit or even take away those rights. Giving government power to enforce a fictitious right to healthcare justifies government theft and coercion. Thievery and violence do not suddenly become moral when carried out by governments.
Treating healthcare as a right leads to government intervention, which, as we have seen, inevitably leads to higher prices and lower quality. This is why, with the exception of those specialties, like plastic surgery, that are still treated as goods, not rights, healthcare is one of the few areas where innovation leads to increased costs.
America’s healthcare system will only be fixed when a critical mass of people rejects the philosophical and economic fallacies justifying government-run healthcare. Those of us who know the truth must continue to work to spread the ideas of, and grow the movement for, liberty.
Ron Paul, a former U.S. representative from Texas and medical doctor, continues to write his column “Texas Straight Talk” for the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.
As long as the uninsured get service without paying for it, we will get the bill. It will come in the form of higher fees and insurance premiums. After 40+ years of working and paying a good sum in taxes which paid for the care of others, I retired early. Yes I get a subsidy because my income is only 1/3 of what I made when working. I own a modest home. Many people on public assistance have a larger if not better home than me. Is it right for me to lose my home because of huge medical bills, caused mostly by others not even paying anything towards their care? I may get by until I can get on medicare. But it will be costly for me. Most will simply go insolvent and join the long line of non payers. How about the lobbying done in behalf of the medical profession. pharmaceutical industry and health insurance industry. All designed to feather their own nest at my and others like me, expense? When will they get shut off too! I do know one thing the more people who fall off the financial merry-go-round because of this., the more strength the left will gain. The ball is in the Republican court. Be careful not to foul and lose the game. Or in plain English, get control of the whole problem, or else. I President Trump can deliver us reasonable priced health care, help him out. Fighting him on this is tantamount to pouring gasoline on a fire to try to put it out. BTW, I hear the Republicans want illegal immigrants to be able to get tax credits for this health care, that is not a good start. Only American citizens should get tax credits to help pay for health care. In 1921, my maternal grandfather was sent back to Europe because he had cataracts and the government said he would be unable to care for himself. Where are my “reparations” because of this. How do you think I feel when I see foreigners getting everything paid for today, knowing what they did to my grandfather?