If the Supreme Court’s ObamaCare decision hasn’t made you so despondent as to write off the topic of health care altogether, then you owe yourself a stop by the American Enterprise Institute’s online magazine, The American, where Cliff Asness has managed the near-impossible: writing a comprehensive overview of the defects of the American system that is breezy, informative, and, at times, laugh-out-loud funny.
Asness has as his goal debunking four common myths about American health care:
- Health care prices have soared in the recent past
- The pre-ObamaCare system was ‘insurance’
- Stopping insurance companies from charging based on pre-existing conditions is the one good part of ObamaCare
- Healthcare costs are very high in the United States compared to socialist countries
Asness’ deconstruction of every point is thorough, illuminating, and crystal clear. In fact, it’s safe to say that — if you haven’t been introduced to these arguments before — you’ll never think about health care the same way again. Here’s one example, hailing from section two, on ‘insurance’:
Due primarily to the tax subsidy given to employer-provided healthcare (a bipartisan, so-far-untouchable disaster), catastrophic health insurance is not Americans’ norm. Rather, employers provide essentially all healthcare from basic health maintenance and symptom relief to the most expensive life-saving procedures, and they do it because the government massively subsidizes this approach.
This is odd. You don’t go to your car insurer to fill your car with gas or to your homeowner’s insurance company to change a light bulb. Why do you go to your health insurance company for everyday medical services? That is not insurance, it is tax-subsidized provision of all your healthcare needs, and it causes two of our system’s biggest problems. 1) Health coverage is not portable, as it’s employer-provided, and 2) consumers are insulated from the cost of basic healthcare because they don’t pay directly for services. Educated consumers spending their own money would be far better shoppers for healthcare. Also, I wish I wasn’t asked for a $5 co-pay after a doctor’s appointment. Ask me to pay at least $200 or nothing. Paying $5 for a prostate exam is demeaning to both parties.
The conservative/libertarian intelligentsia has plenty of deeply-schooled policy wonks and plenty of engaging writers. But very rarely to both skill sets belong to the same author. Cliff Asness is the rare exception. Read it and grow wise.