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One thing I've never been able to understand in the health care reform debate is why the Republican idea to allow health insurance companies to compete on a nationwide basis isn't incorporated into the health care reform bill(s). President Obama stresses competition as the primary reason for the public option, but every thinking person knows the private sector can't compete with the federal government. If we want competition in a free market, competition must be between those IN THE FREE MARKET. The government isn't part of that.
The reason we don't have a functioning free market in health care is due to the government itself. Ann Coulter's recent column explains it pretty well:
The only reason you can't keep -- or often obtain -- health insurance if you move or lose your job now is because of ... government intrusion into the free market.
You will notice that if you move or lose your job, you can obtain car and home insurance, hairdressers, baby sitters, dog walkers, computer technicians, cars, houses, food and every other product and service not heavily regulated by the government. (Although it does become a bit harder to obtain free office supplies.)
Federal tax incentives have created a world in which the vast majority of people get health insurance through their employers. Then to really screw ordinary Americans, the tax code actually punishes people who don't get their health insurance through an employer by denying individuals the tax deduction for health insurance that their employers get.
Meanwhile, state governments must approve the insurers allowed to operate in their states, while mandating a list of services -- i.e. every "medical" service with a powerful lobby -- which is why Joe and Ruth Zelinsky, both 88, of Paterson, N.J., are both covered in case either one of them ever needs a boob job.
If Democrats really wanted people to be able to purchase health insurance when they move or lose a job as easily as they purchase car insurance and home insurance (or haircuts, dog walkers, cars, food, computers), they could do it in a one-page bill lifting the government controls and allowing interstate commerce in health insurance. This is known as "allowing the free market to operate."
(Note to liberals - Just because it's Coulter saying it doesn't mean it's not true. What I quoted here is ALL true.)
The government has intruded into health care time and again, forcing costs up every step of the way. We have a tightly controlled and mandated health care market, and then the same government agents who created this environment complain about a lack of competition and high prices, when they WON'T ALLOW TRUE FREE MARKET COMPETITION.
The Republicans don't have many good ideas about health care reform, but they have a few. National free market health insurance competition is a good one. So is allowing individuals to make their health care insurance 100% tax deductible. So is tort reform. If President Obama wants the bipartisan bill that he says he does, why aren't any of these things included ?
What we are heading for now is one of two worlds, either 1) a health care reform bill with a public option that will destroy the private insurance industry, resulting in a government insurance monopoly, or 2) a health care reform bill without a public option, and with no cost controls in place for private insurers. This would be a huge giveaway to the insurance companies.
Neither of these options is acceptable, and in both cases, the government will be FORCING people to buy health insurance. Some choice.
The government should go back to the drawing board. There's no reason a real bipartisan bill cannot be produced that bends down the health care cost curve and gives us a free market as well. What the government should do is oversee the free market, not trample all over it. We should have a bill that doesn't allow insurers to eliminate pre-existing conditions, that doesn't allow insurers to drop or deny coverage, and that doesn't allow insurers to profit excessively, but as free citizens in a free country, we should have the right to get the health insurance coverage that WE want, not what the government dictates for us.