Big Government, the Insurer

When was the last time you can recall a major program planned, created and implemented by a government agency coming in on time and on budget?  As a friend of mine who used to work in the mental health/addiction sector of the health-care industry never lets me forget, governments are, with few exceptions, notoriously poor managers. Some examples he cites are the “War on Poverty”, the military’s purchase of $1500 hammers, and the more recent “Cash for Clunkers” program debacle. If you need more convincing, read this opinion piece on what the Canadians think of their own government-run system.

President Obama has spoken many times on his vision for medical reform. A prominent piece of this program envisioned is a government-run competitor to the private carriers, termed another option for the health-care consumer, a “friend” rather than a threat to the health-care consumer. I understand the need, perhaps compulsion, for Big Government to acquire a greater control over this aspect of our lives beyond its existing stake through Medicare and the burgeoning body of statutes; it’s the nature of the beast. It’s also clear that astute politicians (and Obama is certainly one of the most astute) recognize the risk and impossibility, at this point in time, of trying to overhaul the current system with a single, government controlled payer in one fell swoop (something on which Obama has contradicted himself in various recent speeches). The logical alternative is to dip a toe in the water with a competing, government-run, insurer. It hasn’t been made clear yet just how this new spawn of B.G. will be constrained so as not to have an unfair advantage and control the marketplace.

Lest you think I believe the current state of affairs is satisfactory and I’m using the government as boogeyman to “stir the pot,” let me set the record straight: there is a place in the solutions department for government which I’ll come back to that at a later time. Some of you, I’m sure, believe that the government is just trying to fill a niche; provide for millions of Americans who can’t get insurance on their own. I caution you to look at the nature and history of government—good intentions are usually swamped by the unintended consequences of unbridled growth.

Change is obligatory and will be coming in some form whether we like it or not.  I want to like it. And I don’t believe B.G. Insurance Co. is the agent of change that will bring it to us.


NEXT: The doctors


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