The big debate this election cycle will probably be over government run health care (or nationalized health insurance, etc). The tag lines will be about our lack of compassion for those that can't pay, about health care as a right, about how in other countries people don't have to worry about health care like they do in America. And those in America who do want to help their fellow man, who do want to help the "little guy", who do think that health care is too expensive, might very well get caught up in those lines of thought and give the government the authority to take over this sector of the economy.
Here are several reasons why I think it would be a big mistake to nationalize health care.
1) Quality and Costs: In every area that government gets involved, costs always skyrocket and quality always decreases. It is axiomatic, for one very well established reason - government doesn't have to compete. Competition is the force that drives excellence and reduces cost in our world. People work only as hard as they must in order to get by. It isn't necessarily laziness, its just natural, we want to spend time with our family, take care of the house, go to the beach and enjoy life - competition requires us to work before we can play. Our survival depends on getting up and going to work - and doing a good job while we're there. If we don't "bring it", somebody else will.
Not so in government. If they do a poor job at something, there are typically calls for increased funding, rather than the lost business that the rest of us have to face when we do our jobs poorly. Due to the fact that there is no competition trying to take the "government's" business away - the government doesn't have to do it better or at a better price, so the quality always goes down and the cost always goes up.
You might say - "I don't care if costs go up if I'm not having to pay for it." Well someone has to pay for it. Now you'll have to pay for it through taxes that will have to go up and up and up. The politicians will sell you an "illusion." They will convince you that you don't have to pay for it, then increase your taxes to cover the system that they create. And the system they create will cost more, offer you less, and you won't have any say in it! Don't fall for the "illusion."
2) Innovation Ceases - As a company tries to get ahead of its competition, it continually looks for ways to bring new products and services to the market. As a result, a steady stream of new innovations flow from the companies that provide health care technology, medicines, and services. The desire for profit drives new innovations. Profit is the magnet for human innovation. Remove the profit = remove the innovation.
One of the benefits that socialized medicine in other countries have is that they still have access to medical innovations coming out of the United States and other countries that are not socialized. If America socializes its health care system and removes the incentives to innovate that profit provides, the world will lose its source of medical innovation. They will no longer be able to depend on our system to provide breakthrough technologies - and neither will we. We will have effectively killed the goose that lays the golden eggs.
What is so sad about this fact is that it won't even be noticed. You don't miss what never existed.
Furthermore, when business men and women see that they can no longer succeed financially in the health care industry, they'll take their talents elsewhere. That means fewer qualified doctors, nurses, and others. Politicians will insist that doctors are overpaid and reduce their incomes to a "fair" wage. So the only doctors will be the remaining losers that couldn't make it in other fields. Then you'll have to deal with the bureaucratic gatekeeper to the health care system and the under qualified "doctor" who was satisfied with a "living" wage. The types who make great doctors will have moved on to fields that appreciate (and pay for) their talents.
3) The System Becomes Bureaucratic - Ever notice the difference between a car insurance company and the DMV? You need them both in order to drive your car - but one of them serves you in 15 minutes over the phone and the other one requires you to go to their office, sit for two hours until your number is called, fill out 4 or 5 forms, bring the required paperwork or they will send you away, pay taxes and fees that you can't negotiate, and deal with a sour state worker who wishes you weren't there.
I confess, most doctors offices are more like the DMV than Gieco, but that is due to excessive government interference already. Do you want more of that? Do you want getting a troublesome mole looked at to become like dealing with the IRS? Is that worth it for the "illusion" of not having to pay for it.
I can imagine a bumper sticker that says, "Health Care - brought to you by the people that brought you the IRS, FEMA, the DMV, and the INS"
4) Service Mentality Disappears - When I meet a potential client in my business, I'm genuinely glad they are there and considering using my services. Its a great opportunity for me when I speak to a new client, so I am on the ball, and using every resource at my disposal to figure out ways that I can meet their needs. I feel the same concern for my needs when I walk into other people's businesses. I know, sometimes you deal with employees who don't share their employers enthusiasm, but you can bet - if the owner was there, he would correct that, and does.
Why do we show such concern for our customers? Because they don't have to be there - they are free to walk away if you don't value them. Not so with a government agency. You might decide you don't feel like using Gieco and instead want to go with State Farm or Progressive. Every company knows this and does their best to keep you. But the DMV isn't worried about losing you. You can't go anywhere else. If you don't put up with their crap, you don't drive on "their" streets.
They don't care if you're there. Matter of fact, most of their employees wish you weren't so they could check email or something. You need them - they don't need you. Gieco needs you, so does State Farm and Progressive, so they act like it - they serve you. The DMV never will .
I want a health care system that wants to serve me. A government run system never will.
5) Choice Is Lost - As in any other government run system, the bureaucrats tell you what to do, how to do it, when to do it, and then make you pay for it. A socialized health care system will be one with lots of requirements and lots of prohibitions - no freedom of choice. They will choose a doctor for you and tell you when you can go see him/her. They will tell you what procedures you are eligible for - and if you don't like it - tough. Oh yeah, and forget about a second opinion - the first appointment took you 2 months to get, there will be neither the capacity or the interest in "allowing" you (yeah, "THEY" have to "ALLOW" you) to visit multiple doctors for additional opinions.
6) Freedom is Lost - If the government has to pay for your health, then the government has a stake in how you live. If your behavior can cost the government money, then they will have a "right" to control your behavior. You'll be glad when they tell everyone they can't smoke, and maybe you'll say, "hey, its the right thing" when they forbid certain kinds of fat, you'll be less excited about it when they tell Americans they can't eat dessert, you'll be pissed off when they require everyone to exercise a certain amount each day. I know it sounds far fetched - but 50 years ago nobody thought the government would tell them they couldn't smoke in their own homes/cars/restaurants. It is a slippery slope, and if they're paying for it, they'll tell you how to eat, work, live, etc - all in the name of saving money for the tax payer.
So please think twice about supporting a candidate who stumps for nationalized health care. You won't get it for nothing. As great as saving a few hundred dollars a month sounds, it's just an illusion and one that will destroy the system we have.