HORIST: Single Payer, healthcare for idiots
As if Obamacare was not bad enough – never living up to any of its bogus promises – the far left-leaning Democrats are proposing to fix the situation with an even worse idea. It goes by many names – #UniversalHealthcare, #SinglePayerHealthcare, #MedicareForAll or the simplified #M4A.
Affixing nice names to bad products is as old as Clark Stanley selling his snake oil liniment as an earlier version of false medical promises – for which he was prosecuted and fined $20. Unfortunately, we do not prosecute politicians for making false claims and promises. Now, that would be something worth considering.
As they say, the devil is in the details, and in this case, they arise from the lowest depths of Hell. First, we need to look at the bait. Imagine a world in which you would have outstanding medical services. There would be no limit to the medical services you could require. It would include the often exempted dental, hearing and optometry – not to mention no more paying for those erectile dysfunction pills and procedures and even a bit of plastic surgery to make you look as young as you are not. Okay, so I did mention them.
You would have coverage from cradle to grave – which would be a very long time these days and longer in the future. Of course, that assumes you really had that superb medical care promised in the advertisement.
There would be no co-pay. No deductibles. Everything would be paid by our rich and generous Uncle Sam. In their scheme, he is that single payer they talk about. They fail to point out, however, that Uncle Sam is not rich at all. He gets his money from us. One way or the other, we the people – you and me individually – are paying for whatever Uncle Sam spends.
And what, pray tell, will we have to fork over to our Uncle to pay for all those “free” medical benefits? The most recent Harvard study on the proposal emanating from the socialist left says it would cost us $32.6 trillion over the next ten years. Not even the most radical left-wingers – like Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasia-Cortez, New York’s Democrat gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon and Florida’s gubernatorial Democrat candidate Andrew Gillum – believe that such a program could be accomplished without massive tax increases.
The general concept goes something like this. You put a 7.5 percent tax increase on employers. That gets you $3.9 trillion. Then there is a four percent tax increase on you and me. That nets another $3.5 trillion. Finally, you impose a major tax on the “high earners” – those one-percenters that Sanders hates so much. That adds another $1.8 trillion dollars. That comes to $10.2 trillion over the next ten years.
In case you had trouble with arithmetic, you can see that the anticipated revenue falls $22.4 trillion dollars short. That is a very conservative estimate since it assumes that all the income and cost projections are accurate. Unfortunately, that is as certain as a morning sunrise to be wrong. In virtually every case of government economic projections, the income falls below estimates and the costs exceed them – and not by small errors.
To cover even the lowball $32.6 trillion dollars would require doubling the taxes currently collected in all the aforementioned categories. Yep! Your tax bill doubles.
(If you want to pause here and get out last year’s W-2 form to see how much your tax will go up, I can wait.)
What becomes clear is that it is impossible – not unlikely or improbable – but impossible to pay for the fancy-dancy healthcare they promise. If you are hearing echoes of the Obamacare lead-up, you’re catching on.
It is not just the matter of raising the money. What is the impact on the economy by such Draconian taxes? First, there is the tax on employers – every business from the trillion-dollar Apple Corporation to that homeworker with a part-time assistant. You do not need to be an economics major to know that means the loss of jobs and fewer new employment opportunities. It would shrivel our roaring economy like dumping water on the Wicked Witch of the West.
It also plays into a favorite fraud of the left – taxing businesses. As I have often written, businesses DO NOT pay taxes. They pass them on to the consumer in the form of price increases. Though hidden, it is essentially a regressive tax that hits hardest on the poor. Under the progressives’ plan, you and I will be paying for the healthcare every time we buy a shirt or hire a lawyer. And yet, we fall for that malarkey more often than Charlie Brown believes Lucy will let him kick the football.
In increasing our individual tax liability, we will again be paying for the healthcare at the loss of other purchases – which again shrinks the economy.
Then there is the tax on the rich. That is an easy one to propose because the left assumes that, like them, we are either envious of rich people or we just hate them. They see us as the peasants with the pitchforks attacking the castle.
The first point to be made is that those in higher tax brackets already pay a higher percentage of the income than we less affluent folks. Like you and me, their income would be taxed at a high rate.
More importantly, the left wants to increase taxes on investment income – most notably on capital gains. They would prefer that such income be taxed at the normal and higher personal rate. That may bring in more money at the front end, but what happens on the backside?
There would be a much lower incentive to invest in new business, which means economic growth and more jobs. More jobs mean more taxable income at the existing rates. If you kill off jobs, however, government revenues (tax dollars) go lower, you and I have less money to spend and the economy goes into recession.
But, what about the quality of the healthcare?
History tells us that when government pays for and manages ANYTHING, two things will occur. Expenses will go through the proverbial roof. Any time you have a third-party payer, the control of costs goes out the window. We see it in Medicare and Medicaid. We see it in student loans. We see it in military contracting. Once our rich Uncle Sam is perceived to be the payer – and he does control that enormous pile of money he takes from us.
Consequently, everything gets a LOT more expensive as hospitals and doctors increase prices, college tuitions soar and we all know about those $90 hammers purchased by the Pentagon. Amazingly, as the costs skyrocket, the quality of services subsidized by Uncle Sam goes down.
Then there is waste and fraud. Government does an abysmal job at eliminating waste and fraud compared to the private sector. That is because there is no incentive to do so. After all, it is Uncle Sam’s money – not the money of those spending it for political benefit.
We do not have to look at that theoretically. As we consider universal healthcare, we should remember those promises made by President Obama to secure the passage of his namesake legislation. Did everyone in America get coverage? No. More than 20 million Americans did not make the cut. Did premiums go down? Nope. They rose faster than before. Did you get to keep your doctor? Again, no.
We should keep in mind how the details of Obamacare were held back from we the people — and even those members of Congress who had to vote for it — when then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi infamously said that “we have to pass the bill to see what is in it.”
We should not forget the admission made by Jonathan Gruber, the MIT professor and one of the chief architects of the so-called Affordable Care Act (ACA). He later admitted that the White House had to strategically lie to get enough public and congressional support to get the bill passed. You heard that right. They outright lied about the benefits and costs of Obamacare in order to get it passed – and they are doing it again but this time with real whoppers (and I do not mean hamburgers).
While the proponents heap much praise on universal or single-payer health care in other nations, the real record is not all that encouraging. First, those other nations do not provide the extensive coverage that is being promised (lied about) by the proponents on the left to get support.
Then there is the issue of the quality of healthcare. The foreign systems seem to work okay – but at enormous expense – and only for routine or nominal health matters. But when it comes to major issues, not so good. Both the quality of the services and the timeliness are serious problems. In Canada, for example, there is an entire industry of consultants who work to get Canadians into the United States for treatment because of the long waits and inferior service. The same problem exists in England.
If you go deeper into government provided single-payer healthcare, you must look at nations like Russia and China. They provide some of the worst universal healthcare in the world for the average citizen. And, none of these nations provide the sort of universal coverage proposed by the Bernie Sanders’ socialist wing of the Democratic Party.
If you want to see what a single-payer system might look like in America, check out the Veterans’ hospitals. It is enormously expensive, and people die waiting for service. If we treat our honored veterans in this manner, how much worse will the rest of the folks be treated by government-run healthcare? And if you think Medicare provides great coverage, ask yourself why people need supplemental private sector insurance plans to compensate for the inadequacies of Medicare.
While no system is perfect, the American private sector healthcare system has created the best in the world. It has not only provided the best services but leads the world in the new life-saving technologies. It was arguably even better and less costly before the federal government started to seek control over one-sixth of the economy.
In many ways, universal healthcare is not about medical services, but about a philosophy that believes that an elite few should control the lives and decision-making of the less capable masses for their own power and profit. Have you ever seen a socialist or communist nation where the elite were not rich and privileged, and the masses were not poor and disadvantaged? Me neither.
Larry Horist is a conservative activist with an extensive background in economics, public policy and politics. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman, as well as the White House. He has testified as an expert witness before legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress, and lectured at major colleges and universities. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He can be reached at email@example.com.