Wednesday, July 15, 2009

'Profit Motive' or 'Bank for the Buck'?

In promoting his ambitious reprise of Hillary Care, President Barack Obama addressed the concerns some Americans have expressed regarding the government panel responsible for deciding what treatment would be granted under government health care.

Obama pointed out that the market system has its own "panel of experts" in the insurance officials who approve payment, and that his "experts" are better. Obama was asked why people should be willing to abandon the market's experts for government experts, exchanging the devil they know for the devil they don't know.

According to Obama, the current system utilizes health care dispensers who are governed by the "profit motive," while government health care dispensers under the government system are governed instead by how to "get the most bang for the health-care buck."

Despite all the utopian haranguing, this is, it seems, a distinction without a difference.

That is, if market health insurers are seeking a "profit motive" in attempting to serve its customers while keeping costs as low as possible, this seems remarkably similar to Obama's omniscient, beneficent panel attempting to keep government health care costs as low as possible.

The real difference in the two schemes is something Obama and universal care proponents don't wish to acknowledge: that the "profit motive" inherently includes the profiteer's realization that he must also please his customers, or those customers will find another insurer.

Getting "the most for the health-care buck" under Obama-care revolves around the government attempting to keep costs low (so that the 'savings -- read, 'profit', can be spent on bridges to nowhere). The government -- in contrast with those 'evil' profiteers -- does not need to concern itself with satisfying its customers, as our experience with the United States Postal Service should confirm.

Do we really want the same people who mangle our magazines and crush our FRAGILE boxes to determine when and how we should receive a proctological exam?

Is good health care a moral good? Sure. Is health insurance the only way to deliver good health care? No. Is government the better option? No. Government only does a few things well, and attempting to be a market player in the delivery of goods and services is not one of them.

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