What Would Government Healthcare Look Like?

Government healthcare. Healthcare reform. National healthcare reform. “Obamacare,” Whatever you want to call it, it all boils down to the same thing: the Feds providing coverage to millions at a certain cost and supposedly to the benefit of the overall American society and workplace.

Democrats want it.

Republicans oppose it.

The whys for the for or against are not the topic of the day, however, we’re just going to take a look at what a nationalized plan would likely look like. There are several examples at the state level that we can look at as models such as what republican Mitt Romney and his democrat legislature put together in Massachusetts a few years back requiring that all individuals have healthcare. It hasn’t worked – not everyone has coverage, and the cost is, by every report, unsustainable.

But that’s the state level. How do we know the Feds will make the same mistake? They aren’t really even proposing the same type of program as Massachusetts had so it’s not really a fair comparison is it? By what measure, then, can we determine what universal coverage would look like? Well, the only reasonable standard would be to look at other things that the federal government does in providing service to the public sector.

  • The Post Office
  • Amtrak
  • The IRS
  • The Military

Now, of the four examples above, only one is absolutely stellar, and its magnificence has little or nothing to do with the government, rather the individuals that work therein.

Everyone knows about the post office. Every year lately they post billion-dollar losses and seem to get significantly slower at doing what they are supposed to do – deliver the mail. Federal law prohibits any private businesses from competing directly with the post office, but the two closest competitors, which deliver packages, have no problem turning a hefty profit and making their business work, so it’s not an industry problem.

Amtrak has been a failure since its inception in 1971 by Nixon and Congress. Threatened with liquidation or self-solvency several times in its history, Amtrak has never reached self-sufficiency, but the threat of liquidation has never been carried out either. Billions are appropriated by Congress and signed into law by Presidents on a regular basis to keep the trains running which, in fairness, are used by many (as a national system would be), but like the post office, it is an expensive proposition that benefits a relative few.

The IRS is great at collecting your money, but there isn’t a man, woman or child on the planet Earth who understands the entirety of its system. The complexity of this arm of the federal government dwarfs anything else made by human hands and there is no reason to expect that a national plan would not be as complex, since health insurance is much more complicated on its face than the much simpler proposition of “give me your money or go to jail.”

The U.S. military is beyond a doubt the greatest in the world. Not the largest, but the most technologically advanced and staffed with the finest men and women the world over. Chronically underfunded, the military’s success hinges largely upon those who work in the service, who have a great incentive to do well…an incentive that federal workers are not likely to face: do well or die.

Of course there are other examples of government (in)efficiency, but they all point to about the same conclusion: if we are to look at the federal government’s past record of managing industry and interacting with and providing services for the public, we can get a fairly clear picture of what a universal plan would likely look like in the future. Coupled with research into what other governments of the world that have national healthcare look like, it is fairly easy to conclude that coverage would be:

  • Expensive: Government does nothing cheaply…ever. And while the expense would not be a direct cost, you can expect your taxes to go up to keep the program running. Nothing is free.

  • Full of Red Tape: “Triple bypass surgery? Sure, just sign here, here, here, here, there, here, there, here, there, here, here and there, and when you’re done go up to office Q-J45 on the 14th floor and talk to Emma Washington in cubicle 4Z-74 and ask for form 58-B, that’s B as in BOY, not D as in DOG and fill it out in triplicate making sure you sign on pages 2, 5, 82 and 83 at the bottom, then take that form and bring it back down here and wait in line again to be seen. Thank you, have a nice day.”

  • Slow: Been to a DMV lately? Well that’ a state-run problem. Try multiplying that wait and hassle by 50 and you’d get a hint of what types of waits you can expect for the procedures you may want or need under a federal system.

  • Slow: Cash for Clunkers got scrapped early. Know why? Because it wasn’t working. Too much red tape. Dealers weren’t getting paid, and they stopped doing it. Cars were taking forever to be “approved” after dealers went through much form-filling to get reimbursed for their money. That was 3 billion dollars and it wasn’t a pretty picture…national healthcare looks closer to a trillion dollars.

  • Slow: Been to an airport lately? If you have you’ve seen the huge lines to get through security. That’s your federal representatives at work. Providing for your safety? Sure. Your personal coverage is no different, however…providing for your health, and safety. You have to get to the airport two hours early just to get on a 1 hour plane flight…imagine how long your child will wait to get their tonsils removed.

Again, given this government’s history, there is no logical, rational reason to believe a universal system would be anything but.