Train wreck ahead
By John Stossel
Published: Saturday, May 4, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Most Americans — even legislators — know very little about the details of ObamaCare. Next year, when it goes into effect, we will learn the hard way.
Many people lazily assume that the law will do roughly what it promises: give insurance to the uninsured and lower the cost of health care by limiting spending on dubious procedures.
Don't count on it.
Consider just the complexity: The act itself is more than 906 pages long, and again and again in those 906 pages are the words, “the Secretary shall promulgate regulations ...” There already are 20,000 new pages of rules. They form a stack 7 feet high and more are to come.
Our old health care system was already a bureaucratic and regulatory nightmare. It had 16,000 different codes for different ailments. Under our new, “improved” system, there will be more than 100,000.
Government likes to think regulations can account for every possibility. Injured at a chicken coop? The code for that will be Y9272. Fall at an art gallery? That means you are a Y92250. There are three different codes for walking into a lamppost — depending on how often you've walked into lampposts. This is supposed to give government a more precise way to reimburse doctors for treating people and alert us to surges in injuries that might inspire further regulation.
This will be no more successful than Soviet central planning.
Compare all that to a tiny part of American medicine that is still free-market: Lasik eye surgery.
Its quality has improved, while costs dropped 25 percent. Lasik (and cosmetic surgery) are specialties that provide a better consumer experience because they are a market. Patients pay directly, so doctors innovate constantly to please them. Lasik doctors even give patients their cellphone numbers.
The American free-market health care system began dying during World War II, when government imposed wage and price controls. Companies soon realized they could not attract better workers without raises. So, companies went around the rules — they gave “benefits,” like health insurance.
Government then distorted the market further by giving employer-based health insurance better tax treatment than coverage you buy yourself.
But employer-based insurance largely destroyed the health care free market, since employees rarely shop for the best service at the lowest price. Now ObamaCare may kill what's left of that market.
Lucky Lasik and cosmetic surgery patients! Their treatments are better in part because government doesn't consider them important enough to subsidize and regulate. If only government would neglect the rest of health care! Then we'd have better service and better care at lower cost.
And we'd have choices.
John Stossel is host of “Stossel” on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of “Give Me a Break” and of “Myth, Lies, and Downright Stupidity.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Starkey: NHL stuck in stone age
- Steelers defense’s rapid decline looks similar to that of Steel Curtain’s
- Steelers notebook: Roethlisberger comes to Haley defense again
- PNC plans to do away with tellers
- Actor Gammon finds ‘The Middle’ an endearing place
- Pittsburgh police investigating two overnight robberies
- Plumcreek fire victim identified
- Highmark health plan enrollment skyrockets from Healthcare.gov
- Penguins’ Neal apologizes, vows to be better
- Man shot by Pennsylvania state police at Pittsburgh International Airport was key witness in Massachusetts murder trial
- Pirates general manager Huntington is searching for right player, deal