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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Limited Government

Part of the philosophy underlying the debate about health care relates to the size of government. Is a larger government better, or is a smaller government better?

Those who founded the country at the time of the Revolution and gave us our Constitution believed that human beings were fallen and likely to misuse power. They devised a government that was limited in scope. Further, every branch of government had checks on the amount of power that the other branches had. Also, the states and the people of the country retain power and rights that the federal government cannot breach (or at least shouldn't).

So, if health care is taken over by the government, isn't that too much power in the hands of the federal government? What about privacy? What if only a government health care option is offered? Again, although not as damaging as if the government took over health care, I would argue that it is still too much power in the hands of the federal government. First, with the power of the government, it is all too likely that the government health care would eventually drive out the private sector. Second, my concerns about privacy and government power remain. Do we want the people in charge of taxes and the courts also in charge of health care?

The reader might object that the insurance companies have a tremendous amount of power. What about the power of the current health care insurance providers? I agree that they have a tremendous amount of power. But there are several important differences.
  1. One can leave a private insurance carrier, although it is not easy and is in fact impractical for most people. (I think that this is the first change that should be made in the current system. Insurance should be decoupled from employment.)
  2. Insurance companies can't put you in jail or confiscate your bank accounts or homes. The government can and does.
  3. You have some recourse against insurance companies, very little against the government.
Other reforms that would be good to see:
  1. More competition, not less. Let people choose their own insurance for what they need.
  2. Encourage people to pay for smaller items out of their own pocket, and purchase their own insurance for large amounts.

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