• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Morning Bell: The Road to Single Payer

    Yesterday in Albuquerque, N.M., Barack Obama told 1,800 adoring fans that, “If I were designing a system from scratch, I would probably go ahead with a single-payer system.” Obama was responding to a a voter who asked why he did not currently support single-payer health care. Obama explained: “Given that a lot of people work for insurance companies, a lot of people work for HMOs. You’ve got a whole system of institutions that have been set up. … So my attitude is let’s build up the system we got … may be over time … decide that there are other ways for us to provide care more effectively.”

    The fact that Obama is ready to admit his plan is intended to be just a first step toward single-payer health care is news. However, for experts who have studied his plan closely, it is not. As Heritage’s Center for Health Policy Studies Director Robert Moffit details, by setting up government to be both the umpire and participant in the health care sector, Obama’s plan guarantees health care will eventually become a government-run industry.

    Obama likes to sell his plan as “similar to that offered through Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP).” Indeed, Heritage has long been a supporter of a national health care system modeled after the FEHBP. The FEHBP is a unique consumer-driven health program that covers federal workers and retirees and is run by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM). Under the FEHBP, competing health plans offer a variety of different benefit packages, from managed care offerings to health savings accounts plans. However, there is one huge difference between the FEHBP and Obama’s plan: under the FEHBP, the federal government does not offer an “OPM Health Plan” that competes with the private plans. Obama’s plan does create a government-run plan intended to “compete” with private plans. Therefore, the government would not only set the rules for competition, but it would also enter into the competition as a player.

    Do you trust Congress to compete fairly? If the new government plan is anything like Medicare, Congress would determine the plan’s benefit offerings with a high degree of specificity and would also set the premiums, co-payments and deductibles that enrollees would pay. In the interest of “fairness,” Congress would then have to regulate the private plans so their payment schedules were comparable, thus creating a centralized federal standardization of health benefit offerings.

    The U.S. health care industry currently leads the world in innovation and new medical treatments. But new treatments are always costly, and if the new government plan wants to remain competitive, then it must either offer these expensive treatments or limit their adoption in the private sector. Moffit concludes:

    It is easy to imagine, then, Congress imposing health care price controls on the private sector as well as the public sector. This would import the annual congressional warfare over Medicare payment for doctors and other medical professionals into what is now left of the private sector. With government controlling the benefits as well as the price of the benefits, whether or not the payer is singular or plural, the result would be a government-run system.

    The fact that Obama is now admitting his health care plan is just a first step to the nationalization of an entire sector of our economy comes as no surprise to any true conservative. As Friedrich Hayek wrote in “The Road to Serfdom“: “The more the state ‘plans’ the more difficult planning becomes for the individual.”

    Quick Hits:

    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    12 Responses to Morning Bell: The Road to Single Payer

    1. Becky Whiting says:

      Well, it is obvious to me, we all must become FEDERAL employees. That would take care of EVERYTHING!

      Be care ful what you wish for in this Healthcare Debate. The first thing that will be limited or cut out completely will be free choice.

      Carry on Comrades!

    2. James, Buffalo says:

      Shame on Obama! The flip-floping hypocracy never ends with it.

      If I asked my mother for the mashed potatoes she would give them to me.

      If I asked Obama to not raise taxes or have a single payer health care plan he would pass more government bureuacracy!

    3. Pingback: Please Never Lets This be My Obituary ·

    4. Hugh Miller, Tenness says:

      I have read many of the blogs about health care and this conservative idea that all we need is "consumer choice" and "individual plans". Have you not studied the health insurance system and the fact that what makes group plans so affordable is that as part of a group, the risks are being shared so that the cost is manageable. The reason that I can not support John McCain is that under his plan, employers would not provide coverage and we all would have to go shopping for health plans and I have already looked and to have the comprehensive plan my wife and I have would cost me "1000.00 a month or more! I have to have comprehensive insurance, my wife has MS and her drugs alone cost over $3000.00 a month not to mention all the Dr. visits. I could not afford John McCain's health plan!!!!!

    5. Pingback: Health Care News » Morning Bell: The Road to Single-Payer Health Care

    6. Edwin Buck, Albuquer says:

      Why is every body in a tizzy about healthcare? The perfect solution. Take an hour a day of salary from each employee. Deposit the money, in his name, to a savings institution. The money will be tax free. The money will buy a catastrofic insurance policy, and the rest will be on reserve, as cash, to pay the doctors as co-pay. If the employee doesn't have any hospital bills for the year, the money is in a savings institution earning interest. As the money grows, his co-pay grows. Eventually, his co-pay will be $10,000, because he will have more than that in savings. His catastrofic insurance will be cheaper as his co-pay increases. The money can only be used for medical or dental costs. At age 65, the money is returned to him to use how he sees fit. Should he die before age 65, his heirs will inherit the money as part of his estate. Problem solved

    7. Pingback: sinking ·

    8. Pingback: A Pareidoliac Quest for the Southwest ·

    9. Brent from Virginia says:

      Hugh Miller from TN,

      You need to talk to you HR department. You and your employer are ALREADY paying over $1000/month for your health insurance benefits. When your employer stops paying it "for you" in order to get the tax deduction, your salary would increase by the amount of the current employer-paid premium, and instead of having two choices for a health insurance plan, you have your pick of the entire health insurance market.

      More than once in my career my family and I have opted out of employer-provided (read: taken out of my base pay and then called a "benefit") health-care insurance and purchased our own. Even without having the employer-paid portion of the premium put back in my salary, my family with several small children came out ahead. Thankfully we were assisted by two things:

      a) We, like you, lived in TN, which does not YET have state-mandated levels of insurance coverage that drives premiums up and drives health insurance providers out of the state. It never would have worked when we lived in WA, thanks to then insurance-commissioner, and now governor Christine Gregoire.

      b) By the grace of God, we had no significant pre-existing health conditions that would have disqualified us from coverage

      God bless you and you family. Please give this plan a second thought.


    10. Pingback: User links about "accounts" on iLinkShare

    11. Jolene, Dallas says:

      I do not want socialized medicine. That is what I am afraid they are going to force on us. It is really frightening.

    12. Pingback: Morning Bell: Empty Ethics Rhetoric Exposed | The Foundry: Conservative Policy News.

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.