Sunday, January 24, 2010

Pardon the pun: debate is healthy and vital in health care issue

Every now and then, a note or blog sparks a discussion that warrants its own entry. Case in point, Ohio gubernatorial candidate Ken Matesz brought up some important and valid counterpoints to my previous political blog.

Nearly a week since Republican Scott Brown won the special election in Massachusetts for the U.S. Senate seat previously held by the late Ted Kennedy, health care reform arguments have been all over the map. The Libertarian Party is the only group that has not left its position on the topic blowing with the wind.

A stance of limited government interference is the best path, ultimately. Now it is a matter of getting our point across effectively and having a plan for heavily restrained reforms for what currently exists.

To my previous blog, Matesz said this:

Don't have time to read your whole post, but I read far enough to see that you said that it is a good idea to eliminate the possibility of insurance companies rejecting customers due to preexisting conditions. I'm sorry, my friend, but there is no hope for a viable insurance industry if every insurance company has to accept every customer regardless of their health.
Would you be able to survive as an insurer against floods if you were required to insure every house that is built on a floodplain?
Then, from the client's point of view, why should I bother to buy insurance until I have a condition? In other words, if insurance companies become required to accept customers with preexisting conditions, then I can stop paying for insurance right now, and just wait until I get sick.
Then, once I know what illness I have, I can go apply for insurance coverage and know that I will get it because Congress passed a law requiring the insurance company to cover me. What insurance company can survive with no customers until the customers are all sick?
Insurance is insurance precisely because it is a hedge against the risk of getting sick. It is no longer insurance when the company must take on all sick people. At that point, it is just welfare.

My reply is as follows:

What it boils down to is when people pay their premiums, they should be able to expect to receive the services for which they’ve paid. This is why we have consumer protection laws.

Also, I believe insurance companies should retain the right to require disclosure of one’s medical history before accepting someone as a customer and even decline them if they pose too great of a risk. But, that needs to take place *before they sign up and payments are being made.*

Additionally, when an insurer determines a customer has knowingly withheld important information about their personal health history they also retain the right to cancel the policy due to that individual’s breach of contract.

I understand your point that if legislation is poorly written regarding insuring those with preexisting conditions we’ll create an unfunded welfare mandate. What we need to bear in mind is the majority of these conditions require preventative and health-maintenance care to prevent more serious conditions from progressing.

All too often it is when a person’s health goes south because they cannot get access to care before that happens that they turn to the emergency room for their health care. This has been a major factor in driving up the overall costs of health care nationwide.

Granted, one thing that would help in this entire debate is if people would cease to be mentally and intellectually lazy and start reading the fine print on their policies (in essence, the Libertarian stance on individual responsibility).

We are fortunate that the majority of Americans do not want a government takeover of health care. But the argument that all medical conditions render people uninsurable who do not already have health insurance runs the risk of swinging public sentiment in a direction that will embolden and play into the hands of the progressive movement.

All in all, there is a great deal of deregulation that needs to take place with health care which will help alleviate the cost burden on the public.

I agree with reforming the manner in which states have established minimum coverage requirements for insurers. The inability for people to take their health policy with them when they move from one state to another is a direct infringement upon the Constitution’s interstate commerce clause (Article 1, Section 8, paragraph 3).

Another idea I wholeheartedly endorse is being proposed by Senate candidate Rand Paul of Kentucky. His idea is to extend significant tax breaks and relief to physicians who practice medicine at community clinics as a way to help alleviate the expenses of preventative and maintenance care.

Finally, the best way to enable Americans to afford health care insurance is to drastically slash federal and state government spending, thus allowing taxpayers to keep more of their earnings and as a result better afford not just insurance but also any other costs that come with returning to or maintaining good health.

That last point is why I’m a Libertarian.


  1. Mr. Matesz replied again, and his response is as thorough of a Libertarian argument as one could look for in America. It is well worth reading:


    When desktop computers first became widely available for the public, they had about 64 kilobytes of memory and might cost thousands of dollars. Now I can go buy a new desktop with many gigabytes of memory for a few hundred dollars.

    The cost of buying a computer has come down while the technology itslef has vastly improved. The logical consumer should be asking, "If capitalism works so well to bring down the cost of a computer, why is it that capitalism isn't making sure health-care prices fall while the quality improves?" Is this not the crux of the problem?... See More

    Paradoxically, lasik eye surgery has drastcally come down in price over the years - another victory for capitalism within the health-care field. Why is that?

    The reason is that lasik eye surgery is not covered by insurance. People shop around to find the best technology for the lowest cost, just like they do for a computer.

    The health insurance industry is a problem not because of the dilemma of preexistiing conditions. Health care costs continue to climb precisely because, in many cases, health insurance companies are being forced, by government mandates, to cover conditions that should be handled just like lasik eye surgery.

    Health insurance was affordable and health care costs used to decline when health care insurance was used as it was origninally designed - as a hedge against a catastrophic, expensive medical event. I don't need insurance to pay for me to get my teeth cleaned or to get a routine medical exam, yet that is what millions of Americans do now.

    Why? This is because of the tax structure of the United States. Employees, burdened by too much tax on income and otherwise, seek some of their "compensation" in the form of broad-coverage health insurance. If the company insurance plan covers checkups, teeth cleanings, eye glasses, and a whole host of optional services, the employee has found a way to circumvent the high cost of living and the destructive tax system. He gets consumer goods without paying income taxes on the money used to supply those consumer goods.

    What needs to happen is to repeal various legislations already in place requiring insurance companies to cover certain conditions and for Congress to fulfill their Article I, Section 8 power to regulate (make regular) interstate commerce in this regard. Increased competition for catastrophic coverage only will bring down costs incredibly.

    Health care costs are not going up BECAUSE uninsured people go to emergency rooms when things finally get bad. You are defining a symptom as the cause. People don't buy health insurance for catastophic coverage because it is too expensive first. They result is the eventual visit to the emergency room.

    As is typical, it is government regulation, control, and taxation that makes the isurance problem worse. When government gets out of the way of the industry, prices will decline and service will improve. On top of all this, there is no constitutional authority for Congress to dabble in this other than to regulate interstate commerce (not forbid it.)

  2. California is the most extreme example I've heard of when it comes to out-of-control minimum coverage laws. Sacramento has gotten so out of touch, they even have legislated hair plugs (HAIR PLUGS) are to be included in their minimum coverage requirements.

    And people can't understand A) why health care and health insurance have gotten so out-of-... See Morecontrol expensive and B) why people are fleeing the Golden State in droves.

    This understanding is not adequately shared by the two major parties -- very simply.