The NY Times has an article today discussing the plan to expand the Children’s Health Insurance Program. While I don’t always agree with President Bush, I think I take the side of the republicans on this issue. Expanding the program to get non-poor children insurance is not the route we should be taking, particularly when it involves taxing smokers. While I think that people who choose to smoke should be more responsible to pay for their health care when they suffer from problems like COPD or lung cancer, I don’t think a “sin tax” should be placed on smokers to subsidize children.
Too often people, particularly democrats, think that the solution for this nation’s health care problem is to get everybody insurance coverage – the more comprehensive the better. This is the wrong approach! First off, the word “insurance” has lost any meaning when it comes to our health. What is offered by most employers is not insurance, but rather a pooling and redistribution of funds to cover a wide range of preventive and catastrophic claims – and often times pays more for the small claims and abandons people when something like cancer strikes. True insurance would only cover catastrophic claims, with individuals responsible for covering the cost of well-visits and treatment of minor ailments (though in a more free market, people would be empowered to choose whether they want a more comprehensive plan).
Yes, health care is expensive, and this makes it unaffordable for many, but this is not a problem that “insurance” will solve. Instead we need more transparency in health care pricing, reimbursement based on quality rather than simply volume (a move away from straight fee-for-service), and a consumer that is in control of their health care dollars. Unfortunately it takes more time than many are willing in order to understand the real causes behind the problems in our health care system…thus the “insurance” solution continues to thrive.