Archive for obamacare

Per Bylund on Obamacare in the ‘Wall Street Journal’

800px-Barack_Obama_reacts_to_the_passing_of_Healthcare_billPer Bylund’s column “What Sweden Can Teach Us About ObamaCare” is in today’s WSJ:

President Obama has declared the Affordable Care Act a success—a reform that is “here to stay.” The question remains, however: What should we expect to come out of it, and do we want the effects to stay? If the experiences of Sweden and other countries with universal health care are any indication, patients will soon start to see very long wait times and difficulty getting access to care.

Sweden is praised as a rare example of a socialist country that works. A closer look at its health-care system tells a different story.

The overall quality of medical services delivered by Sweden’s universal public health care consistently ranks among the world’s very best. That quality can be achieved by regulating treatments to follow specific diagnoses as well as by standardizing procedures. If ObamaCare regulations do this, the quality of American health care may not go down either.

Sweden’s problem is access to care. According to the Euro Health Consumer Index 2013, Swedish patients suffer from inordinately long wait times to get an appointment with a doctor, specialist treatment or even emergency care. Wait times are Europe’s longest, and Swedes dependent on the public-health system have to wait months or even years for certain procedures, or are denied treatment.

For example, Sweden’s National Board of Health and Welfare reports that as of 2013, the average wait time (from referral to start of treatment) for “intermediary and high risk” prostate cancer is 220 days. In the case of lung cancer, the wait between an appointment with a specialist and a treatment decision is 37 days.

This waiting is what economists call rationing—the delay or even failure to provide care due to government budgetary decisions. So the number of people seeking care far outweighs the capabilities of providers, translating into insurance in name but not in practice. This is likely to be a result of ObamaCare as well.

Rationing is an obvious effect of economic planning in place of free-market competition. Free markets allow companies and entrepreneurs to respond to demand by offering people what they want and need at a better price. Effective and affordable health care comes from decentralized innovation and risk-taking as well as freedom in pricing and product development. The Affordable Care Act does the opposite by centralizing health care, minimizing or prohibiting differentiation in pricing and offerings, and mandating consumers to purchase insurance. It effectively overrides the market and the signals it sends about supply and demand.

Continue reading at WSJ.

See also, Bylund’s Mises Daily articles on health care and Sweden’s economic system:

The Market is Taking Over Sweden’s Health Care

How Government Cutbacks Ended Sweden’s Great Depression

Bylund on Resistance Radio

I’ll be on Resistance Radio 98.9FM WGUF at around 12:15 EST discussing Obamacare and Sweden’s health care. My take on the former is that it is much like the latter used to be, but that as America is going for public health care Sweden is going for markets.

Obamacare Delay: Good Politics, Bad Economics

Ace of heartsD.W. MacKenzie writes in today’s Mises Daily:

The Obama administration has in the same week admitted that the burdens that the ACA places on small businesses are onerous. The costs of the ACA will therefore cause smaller employers to demand fewer workers.

Economically speaking, there is not a real difference between workers supplying fewer hours of labor and employers demanding fewer hours of labor. In terms of the production of real wealth fewer hours of labor used in industry translates into reduced overall production. Politically, however, there is a very real difference between workers wishing to supply more hours, and employers demanding more hours.

Richard Posner’s Conversion to Keynesianism

Gary North writes:

In September of 2009, Judge Richard Posner, one of the creators of the sub-discipline known as law and economics, announced his conversion, at age 70, to Keynesianism. He had been a Chicago School economics advocate for over 40 years.  His confession appears here.

He had long been an advocate of property rights. Recently, he voted with the majority to deny the University of Notre Dame an exemption from ObamaCare’s requirement that employers provide health insurance that provides free condoms.  A report is here.

He wrote: “If the government is entitled to require that female contraceptives be provided to women free of charge, we have trouble understanding how signing the form that declares Notre Dame’s authorized refusal to pay for contraceptives for its students or staff, and mailing the authorization document to those (insurance) companies, which under federal law are obligated to pick up the tab, could be thought to ‘trigger’ the provision of female contraceptives.”

The key words are these: “If the government is entitled. . . .” That is precisely the legal issue. He said that it is so entitled. It is clear that Posner’s conversion to Keynesianism is complete.

Bylund on Liberty Talk Radio

I’ll be on Liberty Talk Radio, KFAQ-AM in Tulsa, OK, tonight (2/22) discussing the similarities between the Affordable Care Act and Sweden’s public health care system. I’ll be on from around 7:35 PM CT (8:35 PM ET), and for those interested the radio show also airs nationally on LibertyTalkRadio.com.

Dumb Consumers Make Infallible Voters

In a recent Mises Daily article, Julian Adorney noted that a central tenet of the gospel of social democracy is that the majority of the people are too stupid to buy or consume the “correct” products and services without government diktat, but that when it comes to voting, the opinions of the majority are infallible and never to be questioned.

Here, we see a woman who claims a mandate to rule based on the opinions of the same people she declares too stupid to see to their own healthcare:

Obamacare: Repeal is not Impossible

NewDealNRAby Dominick Armentano

[LewRockwell.com, February 12, 2014]

Obamacare was sold to the American people as a humanitarian attempt to provide health insurance to the poor and to individuals with a pre-existing medical condition who had been denied coverage. If you were not poor, did not have a pre-existing condition, and already had health insurance and were satisfied with its coverage and rates, you were repeatedly assured that you could keep your plan and doctors. Right.

We now know that the selling of Obamacare was a giant con job. After all, if its proponents had really been sincere, they would have argued that the alleged poor simply be provided vouchers (similar to food stamps) to help purchase insurance; further, a simple one-sentence piece of legislation could have required that insurance companies not automatically exclude potential customers based on some pre-existing medical condition. Done deal. Instead, what we all got smacked with was a 906 page regulatory and tax monstrosity that amounts to a federal makeover and takeover of the entire health care industry.

Can we repeal Obamacare? Defenders of the law, and even some moderate critics from both political parties, assert that repeal is impossible at this point. After all, Obamacare was passed by both houses of Congress, signed by the President, and parts of the law were declared constitutional by the Supreme Court. Moreover, billions of federal tax dollars have already been spent on the bungled website and countless bureaucrats (including those in the IRS) to administer the new regulations and taxes. Thus, defenders assert, there is simply no precedent for repealing a federal law that’s this important and complex.

Nonsense to that. There is in fact major precedent for repealing important and complex federal law that destroys personal freedom and raises costs and prices to consumers: The Supreme Court’s de facto “repeal” of the National Industrial Recovery Act (NRA) in 1935.

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Incentives, Income, and Welfare

[Editor's Note: The debate over the effects of the Affordable Care Act on incentives to work continues. In this selection from Chapter 11 of Man vs. The Welfare State (1969), Henry Hazlitt discusses some impacts of welfare programs on incentives.]

by Henry Hazlitt 200px-Hazlitt-photo

I should like to return here to the question of incentives. I have already pointed out how the guaranteed income plan, if adopted in the form that its advocates propose, would lead to wholesale idleness and pauperization among nearly all those earning less than the minimum guarantee, and among many earning just a little more. But in addition to the erosion of the incentive to work, there would be just as serious an erosion of the incentive to save. The main reason most people save is to meet possible but unforeseeable contingencies, such as illness, accidents, or the loss of a job. If everyone were guaranteed a minimum cash income by the government, this main incentive for saving would disappear. The important habit of saving might disappear with it.

The more affluent minority, it is true, also save toward a retirement income in old age or for supplementary income in their working years. But with the prevalence of a guaranteed-income system, this type of saving also would be profoundly discouraged. This would be certain to mean a reduction in both the nation’s capital  accumulation and the investment in more and new and better tools, plants and equipment upon which all of us depend for increased national productivity, increased real wages, more lucrative employment, and economic progress in general. We might even enter an era of net capital consumption. In other words, the long-term effect of a guaranteed-income plan would be to increase poverty, not to reduce it.

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2014: Thoughts on Economics, Empires and Their Sophists

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by Ira Katz

As 2014 begins I, like all sensible people, ponder how long the dollar can last, for both my personal financial decisions and as a world event of the greatest importance.

Empires can be sustained only as long as they can be economically sustained. The Soviet withdraw from Afghanistan was certainly not for any normal human or moral reason, but simply because they were going broke. In hindsight we can see that the days of that evil empire were numbered with that strategic military retreat.

The dead canary in the coal mine for our current aggressive evil empire built on military strength will be the real withdrawal from one of the imperial outposts; say Korea or Japan, due to economic emergency, namely, the collapse of the dollar.

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Audio: Robert Murphy Explains Obamacare

In case you missed it, here is Bob Murphy explaining Obamacare on the Tom Woods show.