Critical Condition

That Sums Up the President’s Speech

Matt Welch, Reason’s editor-in-chief, writes this paragraph that sums up remarkably well my feelings about Obama’s speech last night:

I don’t think it’s going to move many people off their posts. My quick take is that President Obama evinces zero understanding of the concept of economic incentives. He can add serious new requirements on insurance companies, force healthy young people to insure themselves, and force companies to pay for the health insurance of their employees, all while claiming, apparently without irony, and definitely without accuracy, that his “guiding principle is, and always has been, that consumers do better when there is choice and competition.” He also thinks that he can once again get away with claiming that “I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits – either now or in the future. Period.” We’ve heard that one before, ya know. . . .

Yes, we have heard it before. For instance, didn’t the president promised $2 trillion in budget cuts? I am still waiting. Did the president promise that the stimulus bill was needed to avoid 9 percent unemployment? yet we are down $789 billion and up to 9.7 percent? Didn’t the president say in the past that his health-care reform, and all the preventive measures it contains, would save money? And yet CBO says it would raise the cost. And the President did admit that it would cost $900 billion.

Do you really want to save money, Mr. President? Reason’s Peter Suderman has a suggestion:

Indeed, if Obama really wanted to incentivize prevention and save money, he might take a much closer look at consumer-driven health-care plans, which strong evidence suggests bring down costs and result in greater use of preventive care services than traditional insurance plans. Meanwhile, he argued that a public plan would save money by avoiding some of the “overhead” of private insurance. But Medicare doesn’t really avoid overhead costs; it hides them. And what administrative activity it does cut out results in massive waste, fraud, and abuse.

And for a good overview of the free-market option to health-care reform, check out this very well done website by the Cato Institute, here. And Micheal Tanner offers his view here.

As for me, I worry. The president’s delivery was very good. Could that be enough to change people’s mind? I hope not. Where I come from, people pay the daily cost (in unemployment and lower standard of living) of a government health-care that hides its costs and pretends to be generous and efficient. Yet, I want to live in America. Not in France.