The other day, I posted that Kevin Zeese had won the somewhat unorthodox (but worthy of experimentation) Libertarian Party nomination/endorsement for his race for U.S. Senate in Maryland. As I sort of expected, the comments turned into a debate over his campaign position on healthcare. While I disagree with Zeese’s position (we are rationally discussing our differences by e-mail), he’s a duly nominated LP candidate and should be given a chance to explain why he has chosen his particular position on the issue. Here’s what Zeese adds to the debate:
I don’t see national health care as socialized medicine. In fact, I do not favor doctors and hospitals being made government doctors and government hospitals — that would be socialized medicine. One of the advantages of a single payer system is that it will actually increase competition among doctors and other health care providers. Right now competition is stilted by private health insurance carriers who tell patients which doctor or provider they can go to. Any system based on private insurance will undermine competition.
I am open to a ‘free market’ solution but to compete with single payer it must provide: health care for all that is affordable, comprehensive and transportable for every Americans lifetime. The problem with relying on the private insurance approach — called “all-payer” — is that insurance providers will fragment the market. Healthy, young people (not children but young adults) will probably have affordable insurance, but anyone who is too young, too old or has a chronic illness will be priced out of the market. Private insurance will just be too expensive for them.
Regarding health care here are some issues to consider:
— the U.S. spends more per capita than any other country in the world yet tens of millions go without insurance,
— employers get massive corporate welfare through tax breaks when they provide health insurance,
— the health insurance and the pharmaceutical industries get massive corporate welfare,
— politicians of both parties are corrupted as they take money from these sources (as does Ben Cardin, so don’t expect him to advocate single payer),
— we spend nearly $200 billion — 25% of the cost of health care — on insurance industry bureaucracy (compared to 3% overhead of Medicare),
— 42% of the typical doctors office overhead is spent trying to collect payment from health insurance compared to Canada where a 1/2 page electronic form is used,
— employers struggle to compete with foreign competition that does not pay for health care,
— employers fear bankruptcy and are afraid to hire employees because of the uncontrollable cost of health care,
— workers are unable to change jobs or stop working for fear of losing health insurance,
— medical malpractice will be brought under control by single payer because if there is a bad medical outcome the patient will have health care, combine that with no fault insurance and the malpractice problem is basically resolved,
–patients do not have free choice of health care provider because insurance decides which doctor or provider patients can go to, this undermines competition and reduces quality.
For these reasons (and others, that I am sure I’m forgetting) single payer is supported across the board politically — progressives, liberals, conservatives, businessmen, consumers — by wide margins according to a Pew Poll — even among libertarian-leaning voters there is a large minority that supports it.
I’m open to other solutions, but don’t see any on the horizon. (The Massachusetts approach — mandating everyone get health insurance — gives more power to the corrupt health insurance industry so that is not an approach I favor.)