Economic freedom has propelled advancement across our lives including productivity, household conveniences, communication, transportation, and entertainment. Technological innovations that 50 years ago even the wealthiest individuals could not have imagined are in a majority of low income households.
Free markets at their essence are voluntary exchanges between individuals that by definition result in both parties being better off. Each individual makes decisions in their own best interest utilizing their intimate knowledge of their own local and personal circumstances. Market established prices passively, smoothly, and without prejudice coordinate all of these activities across the globe resulting in the most efficient allocation of resources. The aggregation of these innumerable voluntary exchanges is the spontaneous, decentralized, and free economy that has driven productivity growth.
Across our economy, this productivity miracle has given us so much more for so much less. The percentage of American disposable income spent on food, clothing, automobiles, homes, household furnishings, and utilities that consumed 53% of disposable income in 1950, dropped to 44% in 1970, and is 32% today. This productivity marvel has been notably absent in the 2 economic sectors where individual choice and economic freedom have been mostly supplanted by government regulation – education and healthcare.
The preferred alternative of the intelligentsia to economic freedom is their control of the economy. The former Soviet Union perhaps most closely approached a true centrally controlled economy. It was a disaster that resulted in poverty and want for all but the ruling class. This failure should be no surprise. How could planners possibly assimilate the countless bits of information dispersed throughout the entire economy to efficiently allocate resources? With communism totally discredited, the political elite were not about to embrace individual freedom; so using bad economics and the politics of envy, they have successfully foisted some version of regulated “free” markets and welfare state on the developed nations throughout the world.
No matter how well intentioned, the policies conceived by the statists have failed to achieve their supposed goals. This certainly has been the case for the ObamaCare reform. The reasons for this failure are manifold and include: complex regulation that has increased costs and decreased competition; big government again demonstrating itself to be incompetent and wasteful of our hard earned tax dollars in implementing welfare programs; and government price controls that have predictably resulted in less availability of healthcare services.
Reasoned analysis of the unsustainable healthcare cost growth leading up to ObamaCare reveals that misguided government policy promoting 3rd party payment and employer provided insurance, along with heavy-handed government insurance regulation, have been the primary drivers of untenable expenditure. Rather than rectifying these harmful government interferences, ObamaCare piles more on. How has that worked out?
More regulation has increased costs and complexity in the insurance industry spawning a wave of consolidation. With Anthem Inc. buying Cigna, and Aetna having recently acquired Humana, the 5 largest health insurance companies (includes United Healthcare) have collapsed down to 3. The outcome of continued mergers will be a government protected and directed cartel resulting in more big business and big government serving each other at the expense of consumers and taxpayers. In other news, the former head of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), Marilyn Tavenner is now the CEO of the trade group America’s Health Insurance plans, and Andy Slavitt a former United Health Group executive is now director of CMS.
Predictably, the Affordable Care Act’s guaranteed issue and community rating (barring insurers from setting premiums on the basis of medical history) mandates has resulted in more older and sicker persons, and fewer younger and healthier signing up in the exchanges. Last year, most areas of the country saw premium increases in the 10-20% range, and some much higher. The research firm Health Pocket projects an average premium increase of 14% in 2016. Such increases will drive out more of the young and healthy, leaving behind the older and sicker, further driving up premiums.
CMS has yet to develop the systems necessary to maintain individual enrollment and payment information in the ObamaCare exchanges, and therefore cannot verify the legitimacy of the $2.8 billion in taxpayer subsidies paid out to insurance companies. In other news, the Government Accountability Office recently submitted 12 false identities, using bogus Social Security numbers, altered citizenship status, or inaccurate income statement, applying for ObamaCare premium subsidies. Eleven were approved. And at the end of 2014, all 11 were reapproved for 2015, some with additional subsidies.
Since the start of the ObamaCare reform, 12.6 million Americans are newly enrolled in Medicaid. Unfortunately, having Medicaid differs from having ready access to good healthcare. Because Medicaid’s price controls result in relatively low payment, Medicaid patients have longer wait times to see physicians and to have procedures done. Multiple studies have demonstrated that Medicaid patients’ poorer access to healthcare and treatment delays cause more expensive care and worse outcomes.
The ObamaCare centrally planned reform has increased the numbers of the insured yet the CBO estimates there will still be 30 million uninsured persons in 2020. This modest improvement comes at the expense of higher costs and less choice in healthcare for individuals, more big business and big government cronyism, and worsening of already untenable entitlement liabilities. We can do better. Give freedom a chance.
Less government regulation and control would put individuals in charge of their own healthcare. Consumer choice would stimulate innovation and value from providers effecting more efficient allocation of healthcare resources and lower healthcare costs. Decreasing healthcare spending and the economic boost from lowered spending would go a long way in increasing the numbers of the insured and the employed. For those remaining uninsured, a more focused safety net program that incorporates individual choice and personal responsibility would best serve those persons.
Let’s embrace the principles of economic freedom that spawned the productivity miracle in so many other aspects of our economy and lives to do the same in healthcare. Please join the campaign for liberty. Our future freedom and prosperity depend on it.