Although American scientists, doctors, and businessmen have produced the most advanced medical technology in the world, American health care is in a state of crisis. Technologically, we are surrounded by medical marvels: New “clot buster” drugs enable patients to survive heart attacks that once would have been fatal; new forms of “keyhole surgery” enable patients with appendicitis to be treated and discharged within twenty-four hours, whereas previously they would have spent a week in the hospital; advances in cancer treatment enabled bicyclist Lance Armstrong to beat a testicular cancer, which, had he lived fifty years ago, would have killed him; and so on.

From an economic perspective, however, such medical treatments are increasingly out of reach to many Americans. Health care costs, as reported by the New York Times, are rising twice as fast as inflation.1 And health insurance, as reported by USA Today, “is becoming increasingly unaffordable for many employers and working people.”2 A decreasing percentage of employers are offering health insurance benefits to their workers, and many of those who are offering benefits are requiring their employees to pay a greater percentage of the costs.3 The U.S. Census Bureau reported in 2007 that nearly forty-seven million Americans had no health insurance, a sharp increase of ten million people from a mere fifteen years earlier.4 In short, there is a major disconnect between existing life-saving medical technology and the ability of Americans to afford it.

This discord is affecting doctors as well. The American Medical Association warns physicians that, due to the lack of affordable health insurance, “more patients will delay treatment and . . . doctors will likely see more uncompensated care.”5 Hence, each year doctors are working harder and harder but making less and less money, resulting in a “critical level” of stress and burnout. According to a recent survey of doctors, “30 to 40 percent of practicing physicians would not choose to enter the medical profession if they were deciding on a career again, and an even higher percentage would not encourage their children to pursue a medical career.”6

Total spending on health care in the United States amounts to nearly 17 percent of the entire economy, and this is expected to rise to 20 percent by 2015, “with annual spending consistently growing faster than the overall economy.”7 Because of skyrocketing health care costs, the U.S. federal Medicare trust fund is expected to go bankrupt in 2019, less than twelve years from now, potentially leaving millions of elderly Americans without health insurance coverage.8 American health care is in dire straits and will continue to worsen—unless Americans demand fundamental political change to reverse the trend. Unfortunately, the kinds of changes currently being proposed by politicians will only exacerbate the problem.

Politicians from across the political spectrum, including Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican candidate Mitt Romney, have argued that the government should guarantee “universal coverage” to all Americans, making health care a “right.”9 And politicians are not alone; numerous businessmen, union leaders, and insurance executives are united in saying that this will solve our problems.10

It will not. . . .

Endnotes

1 Milt Freudenheim, “Health Care Costs Rise Twice as Much as Inflation,” New York Times, September 27, 2006.

2 Julia Appleby, “Health insurance premiums vault past inflation,” USA Today, September 11, 2007.

3 “Fewer employers offer health benefits,” Reuters News, May 1, 2007.

4 John Donnelly, “47 million Americans are uninsured,” Boston Globe, August 29, 2007.

5 Dave Hansen, “Uninsured count jumps to 47 million,” AMA American Medical News, September 17, 2007.

6 “Physician Burnout And Stress Now Reaching Critical Levels,” Medical News Today, April 18, 2007.

7 Julia Appleby, “Health spending rises at blistering pace,” USA Today, February 21, 2006.

8 “Trustees warn about rising Medicare costs,” Reuters News, April 23, 2007.

9 “ Clinton offers universal health care plan,” Associated Press, September 17, 2007. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20819827/. Michelle Luo, “Romney to Pitch a State-by-State Health Insurance Plan,” New York Times, August 24, 2007.

10 Christopher Lee, “Universal Health Coverage Attracts New Support,” Washington Post, January 22, 2007.

11 Melissa Thomasson, “Health Insurance in the United States,” edited by Robert Whaples (EH.Net Encyclopedia), April 18, 2003. http://eh.net/encyclopedia/article/thomasson.insurance.health.us.

12 Mark V. Pauly, “Competition in Health Insurance Markets,” Law and Contemporary Problems, Antitrust and Health Care, vol. 51, no. 2, Spring 1988, pp. 237–271. Thomasson, “Health Insurance in the United States,” figure 2.

13 Terree P. Wasley, “Health Care in the Twentieth Century: A History of Government Interference and Protection,” Business Economics , April 1993. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1094/is_n2_v28/ai_13834930.

14 David Gratzer, The Cure: How Capitalism Can Save American Health Care ( New York: Dutton, 2006), p. 25. Also see, 433CCCH, Federal Tax Service, paragraph 6587.

15 Linda Gorman, The History of Health Care Costs and Health Insurance (originally published by the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, Inc., and republished with permission at http://www.WeStandFirm.org), October 2006, p. 8.

16 L. Mishel, J. Beernstein, and H. Boushey, The State of Working America, 2006–07, table 3.12.

17 U.S. Census Bureau, Health Insurance Coverage 2006. http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/hlthins/hlthin06/hlth06asc.html.

18 Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Senate, How the Tax Exclusion Shaped Today’s Private Health Insurance Market, December 17, 2003.

19 Kaiser Family Foundation, Health Security Watch–October 2007 Tracking Poll. http://www.kff.org/healthpollreport/CurrentEdition/security/index.cfm.

20 Gratzer, The Cure, p. 27.

21 Gorman, History of Health Care Costs, p. 10; David Dranove, The Economic Evolution of American Health Care (Princeton: Princeton Paperbacks, 2000), pp. 48–52.

22 Peter J. Cunningham, Andrea Staiti, and Paul B. Ginsberg, “Physician Acceptance of New Medicare Patients Stabilizes in 2004-05,” Tracking Report no. 12, Center For Studying Health System Change, January 2006. http://www.hschange.org/CONTENT/811/#ib2.

23 Peter J. Cunningham and Jessica H. May, “Medicaid Patients Increasingly Concentrated Among Physicians,” Tracking Report no. 16, Center for Studying Health System Change, August 2006. http://www.hschange.org/CONTENT/866/?topic=topic02#ib1.

24 U.S. Census Bureau, Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2006. www.census.gov/prod/2007pubs/p60-233.pdf.

25 V. C. Bunce, J. P. Wieske, and V. Prikaszsky, Health Insurance Mandates in the States 2007 (Council for Affordable Health), pp. 4–7.

26 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA).

27 Mike Villines, California Assemblyman, Health Care Check-Up, July 2007. http://republican.assembly.ca.gov/enews/eletter.aspx?Id=328; and Devon M. Herrick, “Insuring the Uninsured: Five Steps to Improve the Massachusetts Plan,” Brief Analysis, National Center for Policy Analysis, no. 5858, April 19, 2007. http://www.ncpa.org/pub/ba/ba585/.

28 Colorado Commission on Mandated Health Benefits, 2006 Annual Report. Ryann Acton, “Stemming the tide of health-care costs isn’t a lost cause,” CNY Business Journal (1996+). Oct 27, 2006. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3718/is_200610/ai_n17197764

29 Gail A. Jensen and Michael A. Morrisey, Mandated Benefit Laws and Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance, Health Insurance Association of America, January 1999, p. 14.

30 Hillary Clinton, September 21, 2007, http://www.hillaryclinton.com/feature/health careplan/americanhealthchoicesplan.pdf; Chris Dodd, August 31, 2007, http://www.chrisdodd.com/node/1924; and John Edwards, September 19, 2007, http://johnedwards.com/issues/health-care/20070917-universal-health-care.

31 Bill Dedman, “Facts on the Massachusetts Health Reform Law,” MSNBC, August 15, 2007. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20266957/.

32 U.S. Census Bureau, Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage.

33 Centers for Disease Control, Press Release, May 26, 2005. For a copy of the full report visit www.cdc.gov/nchs.

34 David Brown, “Crisis Seen in Nation’s ER Care,” Washington Post, June 15, 2006, p. A01.

35 University of California, San Francisco Study, April 30, 2002. http://pub.ucsf.edu/today/news.php?news_id=200204293, and in the American Journal of Public Health.

36 42 USC 1395, et al.

37 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey: 2003 Emergency Department Summary,” Advance Data From Vital and Health Statistics, no. 358, May 26, 2005; and American College of Emergency Physicians, HR.882/S.1003Access to Emergency Medical Services Act of 2007 Press Release.

38 http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2002/11/22/eveningnews/main530550.shtml.

39 Christopher J. Conover, “Health Care Regulation: A $169 Billon Hidden Tax,” Policy Analysis, no. 527 (Cato Institute), October 4, 2004.

40 Neils Veldhuis and Milagros Palacios, “A Significantly Earlier Tax Freedom Day is Possible,” Fraser Forum, Fraser Institute, July 2007.

41 Brett J. Skinner and Mark Rovere, “ California Dreaming: The Fantasy of a Canadian-Style Health Insurance Monopoly in the United States,” Fraser Institute Digital Publications, Fraser Institute, May 2007, pp. 1–4.

42 Gratzer, The Cure, pp. 174–178.

43 Nathalie Saint-Jacques et al., “Wait times for breast cancer care,” British Journal of Cancer, vol. 96, no. 1, January 2007, pp. 162–168.

44 John C. Goodman, “Healthcare in a Free Society: Rebutting the Myths of National Health Insurance,” Policy Analysis no. 532 (Cato Institute), January 27, 2005, p. 3.

45 Clifford Krauss, “ Windsor Journal; Doctors Eying the U.S.: Canada Is Sick About It,” New York Times, October 27, 2003.

46 Ibid.

47 Robert Philips et al., “The Canadian Contribution to the U.S. Physician Workforce,” Canadian Medical Association Journal, vol. 176, no. 8, April 10, 2007, pp. 1083–1087.

48 Rosser’s thoughts as reported by James Arvantes in “Canadian Physician Exodus Benefits United States, Hurts Canada,” American Association of Family Practice News Now, May 2, 2007.

49 Skinner and Rovere, “ California Dreaming,” p. 1.

50 David Hogberg, “ Sweden’s Single-Payer Health System Provides a Warning to Other Nations,” National Policy Analysis #555, May 2007.

51 Denis Campbell, “Doctors admit: NHS treatments must be rationed,” The Observer, May 6, 2007.

52 John C. Goodman and Devon M. Herrick, “Twenty Myths about Single Payer Health Insurance: International Evidence on the Effects of National Health Insurance in Countries Around the World,” ( National Center for Policy Analysis), 2002, pp. 9–84. http://www.debate-central.org/topics/2002/book2.pdf.

53 David Hogberg, “‘Health care,’, more or less,” Washington Times, June 10, 2007.

54 Bill Lewis, “TennCare’s Troubling History,” Nashville Business Journal, December 24, 1999.

55 Bill Snyder, “Many Doctors Ready to Quit TennCare,” The Tennessean, September 14, 2000.

56 Bill Lewis and Duren Cheek, “TennCare Threatening to Devour State Budget,” The Tennessean, December 12, 2003.

57 Joel C. Cantor et al., “Aiming Higher: Results from a State Scorecard on Health System Performance,” Commonwealth Fund Commission on a High Performance Health System, June 2007.

58 Helen Altonn, “Doctor Shortage Belies Top Ranking,” Honolulu Star-Bulletin, June 17, 2007.

59 Pam Belluck, “ Massachusetts Universal Care Plan Faces Hurdles,” New York Times, July 1, 2007.

60 Bill Dedman, “Devil is in the Details of Massachusetts Health Care Law,” MSNBC, August 17, 2007. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20255585/.

61 Bill Scanlon, “Healthy Living Could Pay Off: Sin Taxes Could Fund Statewide Medical Coverage,” Rocky Mountain News, August 1, 2007.

62 Simon de Bruxelles, “ ‘Go to work on an Egg’ ad banned,” ( London) Times, June 20, 2007.

63 Leonard Peikoff, revised by Lin Zinser, Health Care Is Not a Right ( Denver: FIRM, 2007), 2007), p. 4. http://www.WeStandFIRM.org/docs/Peikoff-01.html.

64 Arthur C. Brooks, Who Really Cares ( New York: Basic Books, 2006), pp. 2–3, 117.

65 Peikoff, Health Care Is Not a Right.

66 PhRMA, Member Company Patient Assistance Programs Survey 2003 ( Washington, DC: PhRMA, November 2003).

67 Christopher Farrell, “Health Care You Control,” Business Week, May 28, 2007.

68 John Stossel, Gena Binkley, and Patrick McMenamin, “Health Savings Accounts: Putting Patients in Control,” September 14, 2007. http://abcnews.go.com/2020/Stossel/Story?id=3602579&page=1.

69 Devon Herrick, “Why Are Health Costs Rising?” Testimony for Submission to the House Education and Labor Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions, March 15, 2007. http://cdhc.ncpa.org/commentaries/why-are-health-costs-rising.

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