Irreconcilable Differences

The Wall Street Journal reports that Arnold Schwarzenegger's California "Universal Health Care" initiative has died. They are not grieving over the corpse.

So much for that. The California legislature is probably the most liberal this side of Vermont, and even Democrats refused to become shock troops for this latest liberal experiment. Mr. Schwarzenegger and Democrats in the State Assembly did agree on a compromise plan in December. But on Monday, only a single member of the Senate Health Committee voted to report the bill to the full chamber — and thus it joined a graveyard full of state "universal" health-care failures.

Like collapses in Illinois, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, this one crumpled because of the costs, which are always much higher than anticipated. The truth teller was state Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, who thought to ask about the price tag of a major new entitlement amid what's already a $14.5 billion budget shortfall.

An independent analysis confirmed the plan would be far more expensive than proponents admitted. Even under the most favorable assumptions, spending would outpace revenue by $354 million after two years, and likely $3.9 billion or more. "A situation that I thought was bad," Mr. Perata noted, "in fact was worse."

This reveals that liberal health-care politics is increasingly the art of the impossible: You can't make coverage "universal" while at the same time keeping costs in check — at least without prohibitive tax increases. Lowering cost and increasing access, in other words, are separate and irreconcilable issues.

That is the fact, of course. These schemes have always turned out to be vastly more expensive than originally planned. In the end, when the taxes cannot be raised any further, the inevitable result is rationing of the health care. That is precisely what is happening in Canada and Britain – and I'm quite sure in every other socialized medicine nation. The money has to come from somewhere or the services have to be limited.

The problem is that under socialized medicine, you don't get to choose. Someone else chooses for you.

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6 Responses to Irreconcilable Differences

  1. Mwalimu Daudi says:

    A “Republican” governor was pushing this garbage. On purpose.

    Folks should keep that in mind when they say, “At least McCain will not be as bad as either Hillary or Obama.”

  2. David M says:

    The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the – Web Reconnaissance for 02/01/2008 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day…so check back often.

  3. Yuri says:

    “The problem is that under socialized medicine, you don’t get to choose. Someone else chooses for you.”

    I live in a medium-size college town. I have two choices for health insurance through my employer which as far as I can tell are identical. In either plan, I do not choose my doctors and there’s only one big hostpital in town anyway.

    Choice?!

    And even when I lived in Chicago the situation with HMO’s was pretty much the same. No Gaius, there is no choice in the current system either.

  4. feeblemind says:

    You still have a choice, Yuri. You can go out into the market and buy your health insurance instead of using the employer provided insurance. I have to buy my health insurance and there are lots of choices. The cost varies depending on how much risk you want to assume.

  5. Gaius says:

    The socialized medicine fairy will not be dropping off a new hospital and hundreds of new doctors in your town, Yuri. What you will have lost is the chance to change employers and obtain better insurance. Or buy your own as feeblemind points out. Instead you will have a one-size fits all, rationed health care system which you will not be able to escape. Run by a different set of bureaucrats (or maybe not even that – they may simply slide over to a new and even less responsive bureaucracy).

    Don’t believe it? Look at Canada. Those who can afford it flee that system for treatment in the US.

  6. Yuri says:

    I don’t think what we have now is better.

    Yes, I can buy health plan on my own. It will be factor of about 3 more expensive, and will provide me much less security. The ugly truth with on-your-own plans is that your insurance can decide to drop you if your care becomes too expensive. There’s been quite a few articles in the press about things like this, some of them in Illinois where you Gaius seem to reside.

    Try finding out before buying a plan what is covered and what is not. It is absolutely impossible. I have Type I (autoimmune) diabetes, and trust me, I spent quite a bit of time trying to decide what is the best option for me. I have a PhD in nuclear physics and IQ of 160, and after reading hundreds of pages and being on hold for dozens of hours I could not get inofrmation about, just to give an example, what insulin pumps are covered – and if they are covered at all. The idea is simple – spend most of the money making gimmicky pamphlets and create hundreds of unnecessary choices with the only goal of confusing the customers. There were reports that companies actually spend quite a bit of money researching the best ways to confuse the customers. The most recent example (although not in the health-care) was AT&T, just a year or so ago.

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