Politicians cannot guarantee health care, but by trying they can create an unaccountable and toxic insurance monopoly.

Beware of Colorado House Bill 1273, which will be heard by the House Business Affairs and Labor Committee on March 18.

The Rocky Mountain News described the Colorado Guaranteed Health Care Act as a "Canadian-style, single-payer" bill. A recent survey finds that nearly one in four state House members advocate single-payer health care.

Their support of such politically controlled medicine is appalling.

Consider Canadian medicine. The Canadian Medical Association reports that in one year, 71 patients died while awaiting heart surgery and more than 100 others became "medically unfit for surgery."

"Access to a waiting list is not access to health care," wrote Canadian Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin in a decision that decriminalized non-government insurance.

Single-payer exacerbates problems with current insurance. Politicians coddle insurance companies by enforcing a tax code that favors employer-sponsored insurance.

Insurers know that for you to buy a competitor's product you must either change jobs or pay the full premium plus a tax penalty.

Single-payer is worse. If you don't like it, changing jobs won't help. You must leave the state.

Even if the single-payer bill does not pass, proposing it could make an equally bad policy seem more reasonable such as mandatory insurance, which is the law in Massachusetts. It has gained traction in Colorado through the 208 Commission and Senate Bill 08-217.

Mandatory insurance has been a disaster. Massachusetts authorities will "probably cut payments to doctors and hospitals" and "reduce choices for patients," reports the Boston Globe. The wait to see primary care doctors "has grown to as long as 100 days."

As for insurance, government mandates "drive up costs, making coverage unaffordable." Residents content with policies that authorities declare illegal "could face a hefty tax penalty."

Government-controlled health care rests on the belief that health care is a right. It is not. Rights are freedoms of action, not entitlements to what others produce.

Instead of more government controls, Colorado should adopt free-market reforms.

For example, Colorado House Bill 1256 would lift a ban that prohibits individuals from buying more affordable insurance sold in other states.

Because of state-level mandates, a non-group family plan costs $5,400 in Colorado, but only $3,000 in Wisconsin, reports America's Health Insurance Plans.

Government controls drive up premium costs, subjecting many to Medicaid.

Medicaid offers lousy care, fosters government dependency, increases insurance premiums and devours the state budget. If politicians must force taxpayers to fund other people's insurance, they should replace the Medicaid bureaucracy with a simple voucher -- like food stamps, but for health insurance.

Such a voucher would be an improvement, but it would still unfairly compete with charities -- as Medicaid does. Every tax dollar for Medicaid is one less dollar taxpayers could donate to charities such as Denver's Inner City Health Center, Operation Walk Denver or Rocky Mountain Youth Clinics.

Donors should receive a tax credit taken directly from the state Medicaid fund. This would encourage Medicaid administrators to prove that their program is truly effective -- just as charities must to earn donations.

Don't believe politicians' claims of "guaranteed" or "universal" health care. Politicians don't "guarantee" your ability to buy milk at the grocery store, but you should worry about finding the milk if politicians interfere with free markets.

Likewise, politically "guaranteed" health care would threaten our ability to get good care.

The Legislature should remove crippling political controls of medicine, not expand them.

Brian T. Schwartz blogs at the Independence Institute's PatientPowerNow.org.

Archived comments

Which insurance company paid you to write this, Mr. Schwartz?

The misrepresentations and outright lies in the discussion above are so numerous that it would be tiresome to address them all, but I will rebut a few.

First, the premise of single payer is just what it says, "single payer", nothing more.The goal is not government control of the health care system, but elimination of the waste introduced into the system by corporate bureaucracy designed to deliver as little health care as possible while retaining as much of our money as profits.With a single payer system there will be no need for advertising, marketing, product development, underwriting, etc.The payer will be unitary but the delivery system will remain the diversified system of private providers that we currently utilize.

You are right about changing jobs.If we had a single payer system, you wouldn't get different health care coverage.And you wouldn't lose your coverage either.You would retain the same comprehensive coverage you had while working at your previous job.

The scare tactics about the Canadian medical system are laughable.There are indeed some waits, at least for elective procedures, but for 47 million Americans without insurance the wait times are FOREVER!

To really learn about single payer, check out the web site of Physicians For a National Health Program, http://www.pnhp.org.

doctoraaron

3/8/2009 11:55:45 PM

Just because you don't have insurance doesn't mean you don't have health care.Have you ever noticed the hundreds of clinics throughout Denver?The 47 million figure has been discredited repeatedly.Over half of those are folks who can afford it but make a personal choice not to buy health insurance.The inflated number also includes those changing policies.

mspalding

3/10/2009 10:26:26 AM

The government is involved in the provision of over half of our health care through medicaid and other dismal programs.And now folks want them to control 100%???

Currently government mandates force me to buy maternity coverage and alcoholism coverage for my 50 year old teetotaling wife.Colorado has 45 mandates that every insurance policy must cover.How much cheaper would health insurance be without mandates?How many more folks could afford it?

mspalding

3/10/2009 10:30:13 AM

Thank you for pointing out the dangers of "universal health care" -- something which in a more honest age would have been called "socialized medicine".The repeated failures of such systems in other countries and other US states should serve as a warning for us here in Colorado.

For more information on the dangers universal health care, please see the following article from the Winter 2007-2008 issue of The Objective Standard:

"Moral Health Care vs. 'Universal Health Care'"

http://www.theobjectivestandard.com/issues/2007-winter/moral-vs-universal-health-care.asp

or http://tinyurl.com/25zffu

Paul Hsieh, MD

Co-founder, Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine (FIRM)

http://www.WeStandFIRM.org

PaulHsiehMD

3/10/2009 11:07:51 PM