Sunday, May 24, 2009

Healthy Utopia Access Plan

In an editorial in the Baltimore Sun which strangely appeared in the politics section, Larry Carson along with several Democratic politicians report that Republican Greg Fox is engaging in partisanship by attempting to reduce funding to HHAP. This is absurd.

I am one of the least partisan people out there. I attack members of all political parties equally. Perhaps I am even too hard on politicians, because the framework of our Republic in which these politicians are operating is as much to blame as they are themselves. If you give a monkey a gun and the monkey shoots someone, you don't blame the monkey. Back to the point of this post, I just don’t see any partisanship on behalf of Greg Fox here.

Here’s why: it makes sense to cut funding to HHAP as Fox suggested. For as much money as HHAP has spent per enrollee, it could have easily paid to have each member join a boutique medical plan. $500,000 of that funding has come from taxpayers, with private donations and member fees providing the bulk of the total funding. The plan is flush with cash, which HHAP czar Beilenson wants to keep on hand for “unexpectedly heavy medical expenses.” This is despite the fact that HHAP is not insurance, so I am not sure why they need reserves on hand for unexpected medical expenses.

I would ask the four members of the council who want to give HHAP another half million dollars this: if the plan is so good, why not take it to the people and ask for voluntary contributions rather than use the force of government to steal more money for HHAP? Could it be that many citizens would balk at giving money directly out of their wallets to a program that has enrolled only 200 people and is flush with large amounts of cash already?


Anonymous said...

If the plan is so good, why not put it on the ballot for voters to decide?

Freemarket said...

I don’t like the idea of putting it on the ballot, because voters are rationally ignorant. The cost to learn about the program is very high relative to the impact a single vote could have on the outcome, therefore it is completely rational for voters to be uninformed. Most likely, voters would say something like “Healthy Howard? I would like to live in a place that is healthy. I’ll vote for whatever that is.”

Anonymous said...

If voters are rationally ignorant, how are we supposed to embrace the idea of little-to-no government?

Freemarket said...

Because people are not rationally ignorant in their own dealings. It is the democratic process that makes people rationally ignorant. Market based activities make people rationally informed.

For example, Beilenson and Ulman admit that many people have not heard of HHAP which is supposedly why the enrollment is so low. Yet, if those people pay taxes in HoCo they are funding a portion of HHAP because the Council forced them to do so. If the government stayed out of the health care business and instead non-profits were competing for donations from private individuals to help the poor get health care, only people who were informed and believed in the mission of such an initiative would contribute to it.

This is why smaller government and more market based activities are better for society than having arrogant politicians steal our money and spend it for us.

Alan said...

NPR has been covering the health care system of Howard County this week:

Freemarket said...

Link to the NPR spot on HHAP is here.