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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/4879/first-witchcraft-trials-now-impending-health-insurance-fiasco-massachusetts-leads-the-way/

First, Witchcraft Trials; Now, Impending Health Insurance Fiasco: Massachusetts Leads the Way

April 5, 2006 by

Having just read today’s New York Times’ lead page-one article titled “Massachusetts Sets Health Plan for Nearly All,” I think I know what it must be like to live in some place like Caracas and participate in a popular celebration of the joyous wonders wrought by La Revolución. That’s certainly the spirit of the article.

It claims in essence to describe how the Governor and Legislature of Massachusetts have managed to make medical insurance both available and affordable for nearly all, at hardly any cost. “The bill,” The Times’ reporter breathlessly gushes,

does what health experts say no other state has been able to do: provide a mechanism for all of its citizens to obtain health insurance. It accomplishes that in a way that experts say combines methods and proposals from across the political spectrum, apportioning the cost among businesses, individuals and the government.

The Times did not print a copy of the bill, and so I have not read it. But judging from the article, I’m sure it must be one incredible mishmash of contradictions, deceptions, and distortions that are going to cost the people of Massachusetts dearly. The bill is openly touted, in effect, as being all things to all men. An alleged expert is quoted as saying, “`For a conservative Republican, this is individual responsibility. For a Democrat, this is government helping those that need help.’” So the bill simultaneously satisfies those who supposedly want to keep the government out of our wallets and those who eagerly want to let it in, those who want it to take less from us and those who want it to take more from us. (Guess which side will win, when the government is assigned a new and additional task—in this case, being sure that almost everyone has health insurance.)

If that were not enough, the article actually talks of part of the cost of the bill being apportioned to the government. That’s what allegedly helps to make the bill so affordable: the government will pay part of its cost. The article’s actual words, which bear repeating, are “apportioning the cost among businesses, individuals and the government.” This treats the government as some kind of rich fairy godmother, who is helping to take care of her people. And to be sure that this claim is not lost, the print edition of The Times brazenly states this fable in a callout set in large, bold type: “A health care plan paid for by businesses, individuals and the government.” One of the surprises apparently in store for many people in Massachusetts is going to be learning that whatever is paid for by their government is going to be paid for by them.

The article makes clear that those who have not purchased medical insurance, because they think it’s too expensive, but who are nevertheless deemed capable of “affording” it, are going to have it rammed down their throats. It will be illegal not have medical insurance.

But never mind. The bill is not always so nasty. It treads relatively lightly on businesses. “Businesses with more than 10 workers that do not provide insurance will be assessed up to $295 per employee per year.” This is probably enough to cover the cost of first-class insurance for aspirin tablets and band aids. The difference between this and any serious medical insurance will either be paid for by the taxpayers of Massachusetts or it will turn out that the whole bill is just a band aid.

There is, however, a bright spot in this bill. And that is, that if it is enacted, as is virtually certain, it will be in the state that is the locale of a major portion of the leftwing intellectual establishment. So, to that extent, it really couldn’t happen to a more deserving bunch of people. But, unfortunately, there are many, many more people in Massachusetts who do not deserve such legislation and who will suffer as the result of it.

This article is copyright © 2006, by George Reisman. Permission is hereby granted to reproduce and distribute it electronically and in print, other than as part of a book and provided that mention of the author’s web site www.capitalism.net is included. (Email notification is requested.) All other rights reserved. George Reisman is the author of Capitalism: A Treatise on Economics (Ottawa, Illinois: Jameson Books, 1996) and is Pepperdine University Professor Emeritus of Economics.

{ 14 comments }

xteve April 6, 2006 at 1:47 am

Mark my words: the inevitable failure of this plan will be cited as evidence for why we should have a national health insurance plan.

Any apparent success before its inevitable failure will be cited as evidence for why we should have a national health insurance plan.

Any possible third scenario will be cited as evidence for why we should have a national health insurance plan.

Abe April 6, 2006 at 2:16 am

Amen to those words, but isn’t your copyright notice getting a little out of hand?

On topic however, this bill is quite disastrous as it will not deprive of healthcare any of the folks you seem to want it to, but will only create faux-insurance co’s with either low premiums and no coverage, $3,000 premiums and limited coverage, a further tax on business, poor folks getting the worst care possible, and a host of felons cited for the new crime of BWI or Breathing Without Insurance.

It would be laughable if it wasn’t so sick.

And yet their brethren to the north still do without mandatory car insurance. Oh the horror.

Christopher Meisenzahl April 6, 2006 at 8:04 am

I blogged about this here, some folks left comments too:

http://tinyurl.com/ggkk4

ross williams April 6, 2006 at 8:28 am

we must remember that Mitt Romney will presidential candidate in 2008. This could be very bad if he wins, or even if he loses as his competitors will most likely be forced to come up with their own plan.

New Zealand is looking better everyday, just find me a job and i’ll move.

William April 6, 2006 at 8:49 am

The real problem is Faust!!!!

The only revolutionary part of this bill is the coercion part where individuals are forced to have health insurance. The other parts of this bill are not revolutionary at all. The experiments of this in Tennesse, Tenn Care and Vermont, ARRAAHHGGG Dean Care ARRAAHHGGG, are fine examples of similar disasters. But despite the hope, really more of a prayer, that the forcing insurance on the citizens will help them avoid Faust, they are still stuck with him.

This bills failure will not depend on the force component but on the ridiculously low estimates of costs. Once in motion these plans will not satisfy the consumers as the providers jack up the prices. So Mass will be left with the old Faustian decision facing all socialist schemes: They must choose between the twin devils of Reducing and/or Rationing: That is the government must come up with more money for providers to have the providers supply the same level of service at higher prices and/or come up with a mechanical method to ration the supply of health care or a combination of both. Neither devil can be totally satisfied so the system is doomed to collapse.

The funny part is that the state skipped this kind of mess previously because of the inaccuracy of cost estimation under Health Care Mike Dukakis.

Andy Stedman April 6, 2006 at 8:56 am

Check out the bottom of this article:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060405/ap_on_re_us/massachusetts_health

“One goal of the bill is to protect $385 million pledged by the federal government over each of the next two years if the state can show it is on a path to reducing its number of uninsured.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has threatened to withhold the money if the state does not have a plan up and running by July 1.”

Brad Dexter April 6, 2006 at 9:17 am

Shouldn’t there be a rabbit hole in this somewhere?

Can someone explain to such folk that when everyone is in the pool, and nearly everyone is going to have medical issues at some point (some people do drift off in their sleep without prior expensive procedures), it ceases to be insurance? It’s “from each according to his ability, to each according to their need” which is the surest way to serfdom.

No matter how you slice it, no matter what spin you put on it, it’s coercion, which will only need to be amped up, and when it reaches a certain point, the productive cease being productive. This plan will have the parasites kill the host.

Nat April 6, 2006 at 9:31 am

“Businesses with more than 10 workers that do not provide insurance will be assessed up to $295 per employee per year.”

Was the Times correct here? If I ran a business in MA, the first thing I would do is cease medical coverage for my employees. I’d rather pay $295 per year than pay more than that every month.

Roy W. Wright April 6, 2006 at 10:06 am

I can’t tell you how ashamed I am that someone like Mitt Romney shares my religious beliefs. Or claims to; I’m not sure how he could possibly reconcile them with this.

Reactionary April 6, 2006 at 11:05 am

Roy, I was astonished to find out that Romney was Mormon in heavily-Catholic Massachusets.

In any event, from what I’ve heard of the place, Romney is giving the people what they want.

Nat, spot on. Insurance premiums for employees are more like $295/mo, not $295/yr. The system would go bankrupt within the year.

Yancey Ward April 6, 2006 at 2:43 pm

Since my parent live in Tennessee, I had occasion to follow the TennCare fiasco. When it was first proposed, many warned the state that the program would bankrupt it. It took 10 years for it to do so, but the critics were correct; and, as xsteve wrote in the very first comment, the initial successes (as the state did not immediately go bankrupt) were used a call for a nationalized version of TennCare, and it’s subsequent failure has been blamed on the fact that we don’t have a nationalized version of TennCare.

Reformed Republican April 6, 2006 at 2:52 pm

“the initial successes (as the state did not immediately go bankrupt) were used a call for a nationalized version of TennCare, and it’s subsequent failure has been blamed on the fact that we don’t have a nationalized version of TennCare.”

And when a nationalized health care plan fails, will it be blamed on a lack of a global plan?

Ryan Fuller April 6, 2006 at 9:22 pm

“I can’t tell you how ashamed I am that someone like Mitt Romney shares my religious beliefs. Or claims to; I’m not sure how he could possibly reconcile them with this.”

Ah, but Mr. Romney is definitely acting in accordance with scripture on at least one count. D&C 121:39 – “We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.”

I’m not very proud of him either. Compelling people to do the “right thing” sounds a little familiar, does it not? I wonder if he recognizes the irony.

R.P. McCosker April 11, 2006 at 3:15 am

Many months — maybe a year or two — ago I recall seeing a celebratory cover story about Mitt Romney on an issue of *National Review* displayed at a newstand. I didn’t read the text, but it looked like the editors were tickled to have one of their own as governor of that notoriously left-of-center state.

I wonder if *National Review*’s editors, having long abandoned any pretense to “stand athwart history,” take continued pride in Romney now that, with his active cooperation, Massachusetts has become the first American state to enact full-blown compulsory health insurance.

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