Issue Analysis 78 – Big Government Warning: Your Health Care Is at Risk.

Big Government Warning: Your Health Care is at Risk. Many Proposed “Reforms” Before Congress Are Actually Hazardous to Your Health.

A flurry of health care legislation swirls about Washington, D.C., and politicians have vowed to make health care reform a major issue in the November elections. In the commotion, Congress may legislate away your health insurance.

The way we buy health care is un-American. Americans cherish the principle of “the customer is always right,” and we love having choices. Yet thanks to government meddling, in our health care system the patient is not always right because he is not in control. Today, nearly four out of five Americans have their health coverage dictated to them by someone else — usually an employer, a union or the government.1 Even when Americans buy our own health insurance, the makeup of that coverage is increasingly tailored to meet the needs of politicians and special interests, instead of the customer.

How did we lose our health care rights? Americans did not lose control of our health care overnight. We lost — and are still losing — our rights gradually as Washington, D.C., and state governments pass law after law that:

Let politicians, employers and special interests dictate our health care benefits, and

Restrict our choices further by inflating health care costs through price controls, “mandated” health benefits, and encouraging over-consumption.

Americans are suffering from too much government intrusion into our health care. The evidence is everywhere. Costs continue to rise; more Americans cannot afford health insurance; and patients feel less secure as bureaucrats exercise more control over treatment decisions, often causing harm as they try to cut costs.

To make quality health care affordable for as many Americans as possible, government must get out of the way and let individuals control their own health care. Giving more control to government would further restrict your choices, rob millions of sick and dying Americans of the health care they need, and help President Clinton impose government-run health care on America, as he says, “a step at a time until eventually we finish this.”

When evaluating different health care reform proposals in Congress, voters and lawmakers should ask the following questions.

1. Would this proposal make your doctor and your health coverage more accountable to you, or to someone else?

Everyone outside Washington knows your doctor and health insurer should be accountable to you. But Washington has rigged the tax code so that unless you turn control of your health coverage over to the government or your employer, you must pay up to twice what businesses pay for the same or lower coverage. If you are self-employed, unemployed, or cannot get health insurance at work, you also must pay up to twice what businesses pay.


End this unfair penalty without raising taxes. Expanding access to tax-free medical savings accounts (MSAs) would give you more control over your medical care, even allowing you to choose your doctor. Making all health coverage tax-free would also give you greater control and more choices. A fair, flat, low income tax would put you in total control of your health care. Any of these reforms would make your coverage more affordable and secure, eliminate bureaucracy and make your doctor and health insurer answer to you.

2. Does this proposal include hidden taxes? Could it make you — or a loved one — lose your health coverage?

Price controls and laws that require you to buy “mandated” health benefits are simply hidden taxes that increase the price of your health coverage. The “mandated” health benefits in one leading health care reform proposal (the “Patients’ Bill of Rights Act”) add up to a $36 billion tax increase that would make nearly one million Americans lose coverage.2


End price controls, “mandated health benefits,” and other artificial rules. This would give you more choices, hold down costs, and make your coverage more affordable and secure.

1Robert L. Bennefield, “Health Insurance Coverage: 1996,” Current Population Reports, P60-199, U.S. Census Bureau, September 1997.

2U.S. Congressional Budget Office, “H.R. 3605/S. 1890: Patients’ Bill of Rights Act of 1998,” July 16, 1998, and “CBO’s Estimates of the Impact on Employers of the Mental Health Parity Amendment in H.R. 3103,” May 13, 1996; and CSE Foundation calculations. Tax increase is over a five-year period.

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