The Citizens’ Health Care Working Group, created by the Medicare Prescription Drug Bill, released its final report (PDF) yesterday. The think tank I work for, NCPPR, released a statement on the report here. I’m going to do some blogging on this for the next few hours. (A response to Slivinksi will come later this evening.)
What I find most unsettling about the Working Group’s recommendations is number 4, which calls for the establishment of “a nonpartisan public/private group to define America’s core benefits and services and to update it on an ongoing process.” Apparently, a group of “experts” sitting on a commission can determine what benefits are needed for nearly 300 million. Someone is not reading his Hayek.
Let me give an example using myself. I haven’t seen a dentist in over two years. Before that, I hadn’t seen one in over four years. Am I neglectful of my teeth? Well, given that I have never had a cavity in my 36-plus years, the answer would have to be a definitive “no.” The fact is my teeth only warrant a dental visit every few years, and, if necessary, I’m all too happy to pay for it out of my own pocket.
Based on the Working Group’s report, it’s not very clear exactly what would constitute the “core benefits and services,” although it hints that dental care might be one, when it states that health “is defined to include physical, mental, and dental health.” So let’s assume that dental care is included as a core benefit. The question, then, is why should I have to purchase a benefit that I don’t need? I think I know my teeth better than anyone else. Apparently the Working Group thinks that a commission would know better than me.
It’s this type of thinking that also leads to over-use of health care. How many people will run to the dentist for every minor tooth pain if they have coverage that, sans government edict, they otherwise wouldn’t? Given that the report spends so much time advising on how to lower the cost of health care, perhaps the Working Group should have put some more thought into the consequences of its recommendations.