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Longboat Key Wednesday, Jun. 17, 2009 13 years ago

Our View


Think of shoes.

When you walk into a ladies shoe section at a department store, the options, selections, styles, colors and price ranges are a modern marvel of free-market capitalism.

There’s every style and price for every taste. If you’re not wealthy, you can buy useful, stylish shoes to fit your budget at an outlet store. If you’re wealthy, you can buy $1,500 Christian Louboutin shoes at Neiman Marcus.

No one, of course, is forced to buy any kind of shoes. Nor are the manufacturers forced to make any particular type of shoes. Nor are there any government-provided USDA Shoe Stamps to subsidize your shoe purchases or Earned Income Shoe Credits to subsidize the shoes on your feet.

Except for the silly tariffs that we throw on imports, there is little or no government intervention in the shoe market.

And guess what? It works marvelously. It’s extraordinarily efficient. Consumers have choice. There rarely, if ever, are shortages. There are no bailouts of shoemakers. And on and on.

Now contrast that with medical care in America.

Government is involved in every step of every piece of the medical industry. The operator of a group of assisted-living homes in Manatee County told us recently his company fills shelf after shelf each year with government-required paperwork to meet the myriad of regulations piled on his business at the state, federal and local levels. Paperwork, mind you, that he says no one ever checks, but it’s paperwork that adds to the cost of his services.

In health insurance, insurers are forced by law to provide long lists of medical services (for such things as wigs and eyeglasses), pushing up the costs of these services on consumers who don’t need or want them.

If you’re a physician, the government dictates how much it will pay you for your services when you treat card-carrying Medicare recipients — and the payment is often below cost, which the physician then shifts to those who are privately insured.

It’s a bizarre system that continues to grow more expensive because of — irrefutably because of — government intervention.

And now Barack Obama wants to “reform” America’s health-care system by doing what all politicians do. He wants to throw more taxpayer money — more than $1 trillion — on an alleged problem and increase government intervention at levels far beyond the extraordinary intervention that already exists.

When you continue to read about the Obama attempt to nationalize health care, think about the shoes on your feet and how they provide you great comfort at an affordable price. Then think about why that is. That’s the way it should be in health care.


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