Medicare for all may feel good but it won't make us well


Carol Terryberry

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate from California, has embraced “Medicare for all,” an initiative that would expand taxpayer-funded health insurance to the entire U.S. population. There are at least three major problems with this proposal:

First, Harris believes it would reduce paperwork and waiting times. Oh, really? Anyone who has interfaced with the Department of Motor Vehicles, the VA, or post office may have a different opinion.

Second, she seems unaware that private insurance companies (which she would eliminate) presently sustain the entire health care system through cost shifting. In other words, since private insurance pays significantly more than federal programs such as Medicaid, they are keeping the doors open at your local doctor’s office and hospital. This cost shifting, along with Obamacare’s increased regulations and decreased choice, is why, according to DHS.gov, your insurance rates have doubled since 2013.

Finally, Harris is confusing coverage with access. Low reimbursement rates mean fewer doctors will accept government insurance. According to the Heritage Foundation, Medicaid users have an average denial rate of 40 percent. So remember this when North Carolina votes to expand Medicaid.

There are only two ways to allocate a limited resource such as oil, food, or a doctor’s time: rationing by time, and rationing by price.

Rationing by time means gas lines, bread lines, and waiting lists. In this situation, ironically, only the connected who can pay cash or purchase additional coverage can be seen in a reasonable amount of time (think Britain or Canada).

Rationing by price, in which consumers shop in the free market (think Amazon), expands choice and thus competition, driving down costs. This approach, combined with decreased regulations and allowing states to devise their own plans, presents the only solution to rising costs and increased government spending.

Beware: Feel-good promises are cheap, but reality-based, honest math does not care about your feelings.

Carol Terryberry

Elizabeth City