Thursday, October 05, 2006


Comment from Neal Boortz

We have reports that health insurance costs are on the rise ... again. Since 2000 health insurance rates for families have gone up by over 60%. Now .. here's what you don't hear in the news. Just why is health insurance getting so expensive? There are a few good reasons:

First .. mandates. Year after year state governments across the nation add mandates to health insurance coverage. This means that the health insurance companies are mandated to provide certain coverage to the insured, no matter what the consumer wants.

A prime example here would be maternity benefits. Have you ever tried to buy a health insurance policy that doesn't include maternity benefits? In many states you can't do it. State law forbids it.

These aren't health insurance policies. They're medical payment plans. The purpose of insurance is to cover you for an unexpected expense. Unexpected. For those of you who went to government schools, that means an expense that you didn't plan on and didn't know was coming.

When you make the decision to have a baby you know that decision carries certain financial consequences. You know that you're going to have to pay for pre-natal care plus the cost of delivering the baby. Now its been quite some time since I've been involved in all this ... but let's say that the initial medical costs are about $10,000. Why, pray tell, should this be paid by insurance? Now sure, if you go to the hospital to deliver a baby, and something goes wrong, there may be some additional and unexpected expenses. Did you hear that word? Unexpected! Well there's a valid reason for a payment from your health insurance company!

Why the mandate for maternity coverage? One word. Politics. Politicians earn points with voters by giving them what is essentially a free pass on having a baby. Remember me? I'm the one who forced your health insurance company to pay for your last baby! Aren't you glad you didn't have to pay for that out of your own pocket! You sure had a lot of things to spend that money on other than paying the full costs of childbirth, didn't you! Now you be sure to remember me at the polls on election day, you hear?

Then we have this argument. If you can't afford the costs of childbirth, than you damned sure can't afford to raise a child. There are various estimates out there for the cost of raising a child to the age of 18, but I don't remember seeing a figure less than about $200,000. If you can' cough up 5% of that figure to have the child, what real chance do you have of covering the rest?

Are the other mandates? You bet! How about a mandate for drug and alcohol rehab. Many states have enacted just such a mandate. Do you use drugs? Are you a drunk? No? Then what do you need with this coverage? Answer: You don't need this coverage. Tough. You're getting it anyway, and you're going to have to pay for it, courtesy of your friendly local politician. Ditto for other mandates such as psychological treatment and counseling.

As long as we treat what we call health insurance as a medical payment plan, it is going to continue to get more and more expensive. Start treating it like insurance again .. something to cover unexpected medical costs ... and watch the prices start to come down.

Now let's talk about extraordinary medical advances. Medical science can do some rather spectacular things, These spectacular medical procedures are spectacularly expensive. Just how far are we going to go in making sure that every American is somehow entitled to every single wonder drug and procedure that comes down the pike? If someone comes up with a new surgical device that can treat ulcers, but only at an extraordinarily expensive cost ... say $75,000 for each treatment ... does this mean that every single insured person in this country is entitled to the $75,000 ulcer treatment rather than less expensive conventional treatments? Many would argue that that the insured is entitled to the whole ball of wax ... every single advancement available to them. Well, if that's the way we want it, we're going to soon find that health insurance is the single most expensive thing that Americans will ever have to buy.

One more thing. Let's not forget the corrosive aspects of power here. Politicians thrive on power. It seems that every day of their lives is a constant quest to acquire more and more power. One of the quickest and surest ways to acquire power is to work to absolve ordinary citizens of responsibility over various aspects of their lives. Let's face it, there is little fun in spending the time and money necessary to develop and maintain a comprehensive plan for your own health care and the health care of your family. When a politicians comes along and offers to take this burdensome task off your shoulders, few people would say "no thank you."

For those who do actually want to accept this responsibility for themselves, politicians will try to make it all but impossible. Tax breaks are available for businesses who provide health insurance for their employees. Many of those same tax breaks are not available for the individual who tries to acquire that coverage for himself. Now why would that be? Could it possibly be that the political class wants to discourage individuals from accepting responsibility for their own lives? Could it be that politicians want us to all operate under the assumption that our health care is always someone else's responsibility, but never ours? People who abandon responsibility for the important aspects of their own lives must pass that responsibility on to someone or something else. What better way to condition people to be government dependent.



For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL hospitals and health insurance schemes should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the very poor and minimal regulation. Both Australia and Sweden have large private sector health systems with government reimbursement for privately-provided services so can a purely private system with some level of government reimbursement or insurance for the poor be so hard to do?

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