Thursday, October 29, 2009

Obamacare: Not for the iPhone Era

Daniel Henninger of the Wall Street Journal approaches the gargantuan bureaucracy that Obamacare would bring from a fresh perspective:

"In a world defined by nearly 100,000 iPhone apps, a world of seemingly limitless, self-defined choice, the Democrats are pushing the biggest, fattest, one-size-fits all legislation since 1965. And they brag this will complete the dream Franklin D. Roosevelt had in 1939.

"The culture still believes the U.S. has a hipster for president. But the Obama health-care bill, and maybe this whole administration, is starting to look totally out of sync with the new zeitgeist, the spirit of the age.

"Everything about the health-care exercise is looking very old hat, starting with the old guys working on it. Max Baucus, Patrick Leahy, Pete Stark — all were elected to Congress in the 1970s, and live on as the immortals in Washington's Forever Land. But it's more than the fact that Congress looks old. The health-care bill is big, complex, incomprehensible and coercive — all the things people hate nowadays."

"Our outdated political software can't recognize trial and error."

He concludes:

"So long as the Democratic Party is the party of the Old Hat People, dependent on public-sector unions with Orwellian names like the Service Employees International Union, it will remain yoked to a pre-iPhone political model that will increasingly strike average everyday American voters as weird and alien to their world."

It may seem unrelated, but a few days ago I read an article about people who have ditched their TV sets but not their favorite TV shows. One person is quoted as saying "I can watch anything I want, any time I want." When my college-age daughter has a favorite show airing when she's at class, she no longer records it on her VCR -- she just says "Oh, I'll watch it online later."

We're in an era where doctors can read x-rays on iPhones, where someone can be following a major league baseball game or checking the times for the local movie theater on their phone while they're at their child's soccer game or standing in line at the grocery store. (And at the grocery store, if we're in a hurry we have the choice of using the self-service scanner.) We don't need to go to the bank when it's open, we go to a 24-hour ATM or log in and transfer money online when we have the time to do it. In our society we're increasingly able to handle daily tasks on our own terms, not as directed by others.

In contrast, Obamacare not only imposes a huge bureaucracy on every American, with its inevitable rationing and restriction of choices, but it taxes medical devices -- in other words, taxing the very innovations that work to make our lives better and bring increased freedom and choice to our lives. Just think, for example, about how knee and hip replacements have improved the quality of life for senior citizens. Yet Congress wants to heavily tax these kinds of innovations, punishing both those who create them and those who wish to use them.

I think Henninger makes a fascinating point here, and I hope his conclusion is correct.

Friday Update: Here's a list of the taxes found in the bill thus far.

As stated above, medical devices and procedures will be taxed. Among the items we will pay taxes on under Obamacare: Mammograms, dentures, wheelchairs, and soft contact lenses.

I continue to wonder: how does taxing medical devices and procedures, thus raising the prices, make medical care "more affordable"? Yes, that's a rhetorical question.

Update: The current plan outlaws the sale of private health insurance plans to individuals beginning in 2013. As having insurance will be mandated, this means individuals will be forced to enter the government insurance program. So much for more options and competition...


Blogger Matt said...

You're not quite correct on the Health Care bill. It actually increases choice and holds insurance companies accountable. Yes we have a great health care in America but ultimately only for people who can afford it. This bill will go a long way toward making healthcare affordable for many who need it. And it will not involve rationing. Or, actually, less rationing that insurance companies have right now. As you know many Americans cannot get health insurance because of pre-existing conditions. Can you imagine we call ourselves a modern society and people can't get healthcare because they have an ulcer, or had acne or their child can't because they are too heavy or too thin? All sadly true. And if anyone has ever had cancer forget it - the insurance companies won't touch you.
Note too this plan will not be like the Canadian system. It will be more like Australia where people can still go to private doctors and get super care. But for regular folks who just want care they can get it and get it at a better cost.

Medicare came along and helped Seniors in the 1960's. A lot of Republicans opposed that bill vociferously. Today Republicans support Medicare because they see how it helps seniors. This new bill will work toward helping every one else. That's a good thing.

BTW you have a good blog. I found it on I love Hollywood movies of the 30's and 40's. Glad you do to.

9:50 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Matt,

Thanks for your note, I'm glad you wandered over here from Classic Flix and hope you will enjoy visiting again. I post lots about classic films, an interest we share. :)

I strongly disagree with your perspective on health care, for many reasons -- I won't go on at great length here but if interested, searching this topic on my blog will lead to posts explaining why this program will lead to rationing, less choice, and greater costs.

Just one simple example, employers will find it makes more financial sense to cancel their employees' insurance, pay any fines, and put the employees in the government insurance program...the employees suddenly don't have the choices they previously had through their employer-provided insurance. Various studies say millions of people are likely to lose their current health insurance.

I am all for helping those in our society who truly have no other options for healthcare -- on that we agree -- but I don't believe that in order to accomplish that we need to overhaul 1/6 of our economy, raise taxes sky-high (including on medical innovators and medical equipment), and affect every single American. It would be cheaper if the government simply bought those who need it health insurance, without everything else included in a 2000-page bill! :)

I also think this is an area where, if we cut taxes and made it more fiscally appealing, we could look toward trying to grow private sector philanthropy to help those who have serious healthcare needs. Unfortunately, though, that option would take power and conrol away from Washington politicians, which isn't what they want.

Well, anyway, those are some of my thoughts. Hope you will enjoy visiting again.

Best wishes,

10:03 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Newer›  ‹Older