Foreword From the President of The Heritage Foundation

Foreword From the President of The Heritage Foundation

High-quality medical care is more than just having good insurance coverage. It is also about having the right medical professional who can accurately diagnose your issue, it is about getting timely access to the medical treatment or procedure you need, and it’s about having a trusted relationship with your physician where you have confidence in the help and advice she is giving you. 

Unfortunately, too many politicians want to insert government even further into these very personal aspects of our health care. They might dress up more government intrusion with nice-sounding terms like “free health care,” “public option,” “Medicare for All,” or “moderate” alternatives. But do not be fooled. When the federal government gets more say in your health care decision-making than you do, you end up paying the price—both financially and with your health care options.

Even the so-called public-option plans—where the government becomes an insurer that competes with private insurance companies—are a path to “single payer” government-controlled care. Because the government can use its regulatory power to set its prices below those of its private-market competitors, private insurers would disappear and the government plan would become the only available coverage. 

This book details the truly devastating impact that single-payer proposals would have on Americans. As seen in so many other countries, government-run health care would mean long wait times to see doctors and for surgeries. It would also mean reduced access to advanced life-saving technologies and pharmaceuticals. Furthermore, the leading single-payer proposals in Congress would require massive tax increases that would result in most Americans paying more for health care than they do today.

That is right. Ultimately, under these “free” or “virtually free” single-payer proposals, nearly two-thirds of American households would end up paying more. Yet, few politicians who support such proposals will ever admit that.

When the government controls the health care system, patients do not have a choice of coverage. When government officials are in charge, they dictate which care you get, how you get it, under which circumstances you get it, and—depending on the length of the waiting lists—when you get it. 

If you think your insurance company is stingy when it comes to covering certain claims or is terrible at providing customer service, wait until the government is the only “insurer” in the country and there is no competitor to drive prices down or drive quality up.

In a system that is already smothered in excessive rules, regulations, and paperwork, these bills would add new layers of government bureaucracy.

Today, the United States is the world’s leader in medical innovations and in the development of breakthrough medicines. When it comes to combating cancer and heart disease—the world’s leading killers—the United States outperforms every other advanced country on the planet. It is not surprising that the United States is a destination for citizens who live in countries with government-run health care systems, such as Britain and Canada.

There is no denying that there are some serious systemic problems in American health care. While almost every citizen has access to either public or private insurance, outdated laws and excessive regulation still frustrate their ability to choose plans that best meet their needs. The quality of care is uneven, especially in Medicaid and other public programs. Moreover, health care costs are still too high.

Most of these problems are the result of excessive government interference in health care in the first place. They certainly will not be solved by resorting to more government control. Instead, every one of these problems can be resolved with sound, targeted health care policies that expand the personal freedom of patients and the professional independence of doctors while reducing excessive regulation and outdated government interventions.

In the final analysis, the national debate on health care is a debate over power and control. The Left’s agenda cedes control over health care dollars and the delivery of medical benefits to government officials. Experience from other nations and extensive analyses of current proposals show that this kind of system leads to just the opposite of what is being promised: Costs go up and health care access and quality go down.

The way to better health care starts with getting government out of the way and shifting the power and decision-making authority from politicians and bureaucrats back to patients and their doctors. Ultimately, that will lead to lower costs, greater innovations, and better health care outcomes for everyone.

Kay C. James, President
The Heritage Foundation
September 2020

No Choice, No Exit: The Left’s Plans for Your Health Care