Opinion: Health-care freedom is better than free health care

Democratic health-care plans — no matter how well intentioned — are all doomed to fail and bankrupt the country.


Katie Goodale

University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics as seen on Sept. 17, 2018.

Jason O'Day, Columnist

Health care comprises 18 percent of the overall American economy, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Health care is also a pillar of Iowa City’s economy with the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics employing thousands. Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield is the largest health-insurance provider in Iowa, with offices in Cedar Rapids and Des Moines. Serving Iowa and South Dakota, the organization insures more than 2 million people and is in the Blue Cross Blue Shield association that covers more than one in three Americans.

I get Wellmark, my insurance provider, through the UI’s Student Health Insurance Program. Before transferring to Iowa, I also had Blue Cross Blue Shield private insurance through my mom’s government employer.

Millions of Americans work as nurses, medical receptionists, and countless other jobs in the health-care industry. Most of the myriad positions in this field are in the private sector.

In addition to employing millions, 150 million Americans currently have private health insurance. No single person is capable of efficiently managing such a massive swath of the economy with dire implications; they would be arrogant to claim such superpowers. Completely eliminating competition in health care would make the system intrinsically less efficient than it already is.

I have no right to demand taxpayer funding for health services anymore than I have a right to free caramel Frappuccinos at Starbucks.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., claims she can nationalize health care without raising taxes on the middle class. Sen. Amy Klobuchar D-Minn., and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg have eviscerated this dubious claim in hilarious fashion — Klobuchar labeled it “a pipe dream.”

Buttigieg understands that fully nationalized health care is unpopular with many Americans, but he still wants to massively expand the federal government’s role with “Medicare for all who want it.” Americans have the right to a free and open medical marketplace, unbothered by the tentacles of big government. I have no right to demand taxpayer funding for health services anymore than I have a right to free caramel Frappuccinos at Starbucks.

Although I believe all welfare should be administered through private charity, I’m not completely opposed to minimal government safety nets. But those already exist. Iowa’s less fortunate children are covered under the state Children’s Health Insurance Program, impoverished adults are covered by Medicaid, and the elderly by Medicare. If those programs were succeeding, their membership would be declining. Instead the latter two have grown unsustainably for decades, and the Affordable Care Act massively expanded Medicaid.

Democrats, particularly those pushing Medicare for All, are trying to drag us toward a nationalized British style system, under which thousands have gone blind sitting on a government waitlist for cataract surgery, according to the Straits Times.

In a truly free market, companies and doctors would compete for customers. Instead, insurance conglomerates compete for Affordable Care Act subsidies.

I pay $65 per month for my Progressive car insurance. If the government had similar levels of involvement in my car and health insurance, perhaps my health insurance would be closer to $65 than $215.

Americans need health-insurance companies that are allowed to sell across state lines and enable them to retain their coverage from job to job. Companies should be able to compete on their own merits without subsidies so that only the most effective survive. Individuals should be encouraged to make contributions from their paycheck into voluntary health-savings accounts rather than forcibly deducting it to Medicare or Medicaid where they’ll probably never see it again.

The bottom line is that Americans deserve more health-care freedom and few politicians offer that.