NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


June 15, 2004

The last thing patients need is for the government to inject more socialism into their health care in the name of expanding coverage. Most of America's health care is private, so many assume it operates as a free market. In truth, it is dominated by the government, resulting in high costs and stifling bureaucracy, says Michael F. Cannon (Cato Institute).

The federal government effectively socializes 86 percent of all health spending, a greater share than in 17 other industrialized countries, including Canada (though other features make these systems less free):

  • Estimates by Harvard University economist Martin Feldstein suggests that the federal government's quasi-socialization of private insurance alone will leave us nearly $200 billion worse off this year.
  • Chris Conover of Duke University estimates that health regulations will leave us $128 billion worse off.
  • Taken together, that is more than taxpayers will spend on Medicare or Medicaid in 2004.

Democratic presidential hopeful John Kerry sees only bad outcomes -- rising prices, millions of uninsured -- rather than root causes, says Cannon. He therefore recommends more socialism (under the guise of "expanding coverage") even though this would further increase costs and make a total government takeover inevitable, warns Cannon.

Though President Bush's record is far from perfect, he supports strengthening health savings accounts, which reduce the government's role in health care. Health savings accounts restore individual responsibility, curb medical inflation and will make health care and insurance more affordable for millions, explains Cannon.

Source: Michael F. Cannon, "Free market is the answer," USA Today, June 15, 2004.

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