Government-run medicine threatens private coverage for tens of millions
Created on May 26, 2009
What's Wrong with a Public Health Care
By Rich Tucker
Using the powers of the Sherman Antitrust Act, the federal
government is always eager to break up any monopoly. Unless, of
course, the monopolist is the government itself.
Washington makes it illegal for private companies to handle most
letters, for example, because otherwise private companies such as
Fed Ex and UPS would overwhelm the Postal Service with their lower
prices and superior service.
Remember that as the discussion over health care heats up.
Some lawmakers say they want to provide health insurance to more
people by creating a public plan to "compete" with private
insurance. If that happens, Congress
and the administration would be able to set rules that favor their
public plan, as Nina Owcharenko, a top health-care expert at
The Heritage Foundation, writes.
Independent analyses show that employers would jettison private
insurance coverage for as many as 119 million Americans, moving
them into the cheaper (for employers, at least) public plan.
Quality would suffer, too.
Consider current government health plans: Medicare has huge gaps
in coverage and Medicaid's quality is notoriously bad. The record
is clear. Public programs offer substandard care compared to
private health insurance, especially in cancer cases and cardiac
With a public plan, the federal government would create the
rules for the "game" in which it plans to compete. But the
government would not just be a neutral umpire in the game. It also
would own one of the competing teams, and could be expected to
favor that team.
Instead of expanding Washington's control of health care, Congress
should allow states to develop solutions that will transfer direct
control of health care dollars and personal decisions back to
individuals and families.
Rich Tucker is senior writer in the
Communications Department of The Heritage Foundation.