Opinion

Free-Market Health Care Is More Important Than Ever

It’s time to bring about fundamental change, control our nation’s soaring health care costs, and provide security for American families again.

Sound familiar? This was the clarion call I heard 26 years ago when I first ran for the United States Senate against the principal defender of what was then called Hillarycare. But today, as then, the left has rallied around the notion that health care is better directed through a top-down system rather than by the private sector.

However, we are now dealing with a global pandemic where we are seeing the severe limitations of government. While big-government advocates attempt to subvert the private health insurance market, private industry continues working to advance new treatments, testing and vaccines, and to protect the most vulnerable populations.

But as President Barack Obama’s former chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, famously said, “never let a serious crisis go to waste.” Advocates of government-run health care are attempting to take advantage of Americans’ current fears as an opportunity to eliminate private insurance, either through employers or individual plans, and replace that system with a one-size-fits-all system where our care would be controlled by the government.

Nearly three-quarters of Americans rate their coverage as “excellent” or “good,” according to a Gallup survey. That should come as no surprise, as private health insurance uses free-market incentives to provide Americans with greater choice and control over their care than anywhere else in the world.

Even before the COVID-19 crisis, many health plans had been expanding access to care through innovative health care delivery methods. In fact, in just three years the number of large employer plans covering telemedicine – a critical tool for vulnerable populations and the millions of Americans who live in rural areas – has more than doubled to 75 percent. Contrast this efficiency and customer care to the bungled launch of the Obamacare website just a few short years ago. Who would you trust with telehealth decisions?

Employer-provided coverage protects consumer choice by offering American patients the freedom and flexibility to choose a coverage option that best fits them. And among companies with 1,000 or more employees, over 70 percent offer a choice of more than one health plan.

During the COVID-19 crisis, health insurance providers have quickly come together to help American families.  From waiving costs and providing critical resources to meet this challenge to expanding access to vulnerable populations, there’s no question that a free-market system is better suited to protect Americans’ access to quality, affordable health care.

Now, more than ever, Americans need a health care system they can count on. The calls from the left to force Americans into a government-controlled health insurance system are especially concerning in light of this current pandemic. Putting the government in control of our health care would eliminate Americans’ freedom to choose their health care providers and severely lessen Americans’ access to and quality of health care. Compounding the problems is the reality that many hospitals could even be forced to close if they accepted the government’s proposed payment rates.

Then there is the cost. Estimates place the cost of Medicare for All at $32 trillion over 10 years – a number more than $5 trillion higher than our current national debt. At the same time, even Democratic analysts warn that Medicare for All would “require the equivalent of tripling payroll taxes or more than doubling all other taxes.” And while some liberals and their allies claim that the public option is a “moderate” alternative to Medicare for All, the truth is this new government-controlled health insurance system would lead to all of the same unaffordable consequences for hard-working American families.

As Americans struggle with the impact of COVID-19, it’s disappointing, but not at all surprising, that leftist politicians are attempting to exploit this crisis to undermine our nation’s health system and eliminate the private health care so many Americans enjoy.

The best way to improve Americans’ health outcomes is to strengthen and expand health-care freedom and choice. Government-controlled health care systems would achieve the exact opposite.

Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) currently serves as the chair of Patriot Voices and works as a senior political commentator at CNN; in addition to serving two terms as U.S. senator, Santorum previously served as the chairman of the Senate Republican Conference (2001-2007) and as the representative from Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District (1991-1995).

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