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May 24, 2016

The Left's Never-Ending Quest to Take Profits from Health Care


Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders wants to take profits out of the health care system. “We’re going to have to make the decision to say, I’m sorry, we can’t make money out of health care,” Sanders told MSNBC. Arguably, that apparently was his wife’s position on colleges too, since the one she ran just shut down because of debt, but I digress. 

Sanders’ Democratic rival for the White House, Hillary Clinton, may share Sanders’ view. She recently decided to emphasize the need for a “public option,” which would allow people to join a government-run health plan similar to Medicare—or simply join Medicare. Team Clinton says a public option would “reduce costs and broaden the choices of insurance coverage for every American.”  You mean, like those nonprofit co-ops that were inserted into Obamacare as a consolation prize for not including a public option?  Virtually all of the co-ops are bankrupt or close to it. 

Give Hillary credit for chutzpah. The cofounder of the lavish-spending, scandal-plagued, crony-backed, accountability-challenged, non-profit Democratic-weigh station known as the Clinton Foundation wants to make the case that non-profits reduce costs. 

The assumption coming from Sanders and Clinton is that for-profit entities, regardless of the sector of the economy, must be more expensive than nonprofits because, well, they have to make a profit. 

But in the health care sector we actually have a long-running experiment to test that hypothesis. There are both nonprofit and for-profit hospitals and health insurers that have been operating for decades. And if the nonprofit hospitals and insurers were able to provide their services for noticeably less money than their for-profit competition, you would see that reflected in their pricing. And we would all be flocking to them to get the better prices. 

And yet there is zero evidence that nonprofit health insurers and hospitals offer better services for lower prices than the for-profit companies.  You probably don’t even know whether your insurer or hospital is nonprofit or for-profit—and you probably don’t care.  

The point is that nonprofit health care is not more affordable. The reason that other countries with single-payer health care systems spend less money than the U.S. is not the profit motive; the government simply decrees what it will spend on health care. And like education and welfare and retirement funding, there is never enough money to meet all the needs. 

As we said when President Obama decided to remake the U.S. health care system, we now say to Sanders and Clinton. Before you try to reform the health care system, you really should know something about it.


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