The Journal is certainly correct in pointing out the runaway costs that are inevitable under any scheme that disconnects the buyer (the patient) from the seller (the health care provider).
But the real cost of socialized medicine is the loss of our freedom under what would be a veritable health care dictatorship, especially for the doctors and other health care providers who would have to work under direct state control. Since it is the payer of goods and services who ultimately sets the terms and conditions of any sale, the state, having outlawed the free market (i.e., the voluntary, uncoerced trade between free individuals), would in effect acquire dictatorial powers over the lives and careers of doctors, medical scientists, investors in new medical technologies, manufacturers of medical products, and the entire health care industry.
The individual, in turn, would be compelled to turn his money over to the state, in exchange for turning his freedom of judgement over to the state, a lose-lose proposition (despite those who seek something-for-nothing or to evade personal responsibility).
America should move in the opposite direction and end the third-party-payer system altogether. One way this could be accomplished, under our current tax regime, is to simply shift all tax benefits to the individual, who would be responsible for funding his tax-free account out of his own earnings, starting with the funds used by his employer to purchase his health insurance, which are part of his compensation. Each individual (or his employer) would be free to add additional money to his account, and to roll over from year to year any excess funds and build a nest egg for his future needs, such as retirement. A true free market in health insurance would be restored by eliminating all government coverage mandates and barriers to interstate insurance trade, with each individual tailoring his insurance policy based on his own choices, needs, and available policies as the insurance companies compete directly for his business. Of course, he would be free to pool some or all of his funds into group plans as well, if it suits his best interests.
This brief outline certainly does not address all of the relevant issues involved in restructuring our health care financing system (such as the role the government should play, the length and terms of the transition period, etc.), and I intend to write more on the subject in the future. But the principle of my proposal should be clear- that each person's right to chart his own course on health care, free from the coercive interference of others (i.e., the state), is paramount.
Government interference in the health care market has been growing for decades and has failed. A larger glass of the same poison won't do. As President Ronald Reagan once said, "Government is not the solution to the problem, government is the problem". It's time for government to get out of the way. It's time for individual health care freedom.
(For another perspective on this editorial, click here).