THCB thanks guest poster Dr. Eric Novack for a great series of posts this week on the big issues facing the health care system. Together with Mike Millenson and Maggie Mahar, Eric did a fantastic job of filling in for Matthew. If you’d like to hear more from Eric, go have a listen to the Eric Novack show, which airs every weekend on KKNT 960 AM in Phoenix. Stay tuned for more from Eric in the weeks to come …
This week, in Matthew’s absence, we have debunked the low overhead of Medicare and engaged in an ongoing discussion about whether a society based upon freedoms ought to be able to compel its citizens to participate in government programs. I am somewhat surprised to find few people have been tackling the ‘opt-out’ provision of my previous post. My sense is that it is tough to argue on paper (electronic, of course) that the government can force everyone to join in, with no option of getting out. Interestingly, this is at the heart of so many discussions about public education, where a growing segment of the population is demanding more choices, not fewer, for their children.
An issue we have tackled before, but is worth doing again, given the repeated references in the comments sections, relates to another of the great myths of American health care: our ‘free market’ system.
Fact: $2 trillion in total health care spending in 2006 Fact: direct government payments for Medicare and Medicaid in 2006 accounted for about $700 billion in 2006 Fact: government spending on VA health care in 2006 exceeded $31 billion Fact: Department of Defense spending on healthcare in 2005 was $37 billion, though the number now is about 8% of the total defense budget for 2007 Fact: The value of the ‘tax exclusion’ for employer sponsored benefits was nearly $190 billion in 2004 Fact: private insurers peg their reimbursement—no matter how much they would claim to the contrary—to the medicare fee schedule
And we have a ‘free-market’ healthcare system? Like the editorial I posted previously says, “the least we can ask for is an honest comparison” of the different options for reform.