Health Care on April 15: How Taxes and Government Damage Your Health
By Richard E. Ralston
April 6, 2005
As you raise a pen to sign your tax
return this year, you will undoubtedly regret that the United States
Treasury is taking so much of your income. You should also ask why
so much of the income you have left is spent on health care and
health insurance. The two questions are related.
The plain fact is that the U.S.
Government spends more of your tax dollars “providing” health care
every year. The expense is increasing rapidly, and the rate of
increase for Medicare and other programs will escalate further
as the years pass. At the same time, what you have to pay for health
care or health insurance will increase even faster. This may seem
illogical. It is not. It is the ruthless logic of cause and effect.
Your health care costs will continue to escalate not in spite of
government involvement with health care, but because of it.
Does anyone really believe that, if
the cost of something is a problem, the Federal government is the
solution? As P.J. O’Rourke has remarked, “If you think health care
is expensive now, just wait until it is free.”
Contemporary medicine, from the
development of new prescription drugs, to revolutionary diagnostic
tools, to innovative new treatments and break-through surgical
procedures, is a highly technological field. It is changing at
breath-taking speed, based on dynamic science that the government
cannot begin to understand, let alone micro-manage. A few hundred
thousand civil servants will not add clarity to the process. If they
try hard, they can probably destroy a lot of this progress through
rationing, controls, bureaucracy, and political favoritism. But the
traditional government approach—pumping in billions of dollars of
government money—has not heretofore demonstrated an ability to
decrease costs. The government cannot even control the cost
of something as straightforward as postage stamps!
Health care can be expensive.
Innovation, break-through technologies, and new drugs all require
brains, hard work, and freedom. Private investors require one other
thing that government programs do not: results. Government spending
and controls will chase away the investments that get results, and
attract those who want to build administrative empires with your
A near government monopoly on
anything becomes an enormous magnet that draws in special interests,
political cronies, and anyone with an agenda that cannot resist the
levers of power. What has long since happened to education in this
country is now happening to medicine. Will powerful national health
care unions focus on better health care for individuals, or on
higher wages and shorter hours for their members? Will politicians
put the interest of patients first, or the interests of workers
whose paychecks are automatically tapped every month to make
political contributions? Will the quality of health care improve for
everyone, or only for those with “politically correct” diseases—if
even them? Will affirmative action mean that the best health care
will be reserved for those who used to get the worst? The
possibilities that politicians can exploit are endless.
The best way to reduce both taxes
and the cost of health care is to keep control of your own health
care. That means that you have to take responsibility to insure that
it is paid for. Recent tax code provisions for Health Savings
Accounts (HSAs) can help you do this. In conjunction with low
premium, high-deductible health insurance policies, this puts health
care within the financial reach of most Americans. While President
Bush has unfortunately done much to expand government involvement in
your health care, he has now made one decent proposal—tax exemption
for the cost of those insurance premiums.
If you would like to have a
healthier experience on April 15th in future years, look into tax
free Health Savings Accounts. Fight to liberate your health
insurance premiums from the burden of tax, and to keep the heavy
hand of government managed health care from threatening your life.
Richard E. Ralston is Executive Director of Americans for Free Choice in Medicine.
Copyright © 2005 Americans for Free Choice in Medicine. All rights reserved.
For reprint permission, contact AFCM.