Here is something that is odd.
For the past six years President Obama and the Democrats in Congress have waged a relentless attack on the health insurance industry. In the most recent iteration, the president assures us he is not responsible for the wave of health insurance policy cancellations. The insurance companies are.
Okay, so where is the other side?
When is the last time you saw an insurance industry executive interviewed on a TV talk show, presenting the industry's answer to all these attacks? You can't remember seeing that? I can't either.
Well what about the health insurance industry trade groups, the folks who are supposed to explain to Congress and the general public the industry's position? When is the last time you saw one of those representatives on TV? Can't remember? Nor can I.
Okay, let's try one more option. When is the last time you saw someone from a university or independent think tank giving the health insurance industry side of all the complaints that are being slung their way? Don't bother responding. We both know that answer as well.
I submit that this is not a small matter.
A free society requires the free flow of information. In any public policy dispute, if only one side is heard from, we are likely to get further and further away from the truth. The attackers will find there is no penalty for getting minor facts wrong or shading the truth. That will embolden them to make more serious errors, eventually resorting to downright lying. If the only entity providing any push back is the Washington Post fact checker, we are in real trouble. Roughly 99.99% of the population doesn't read the Washington Post.
But what threatens the foundations of a free society most of all is when it is the government (and its allies in the private sector) who are doing the attacking, and when the reason there is no response is that the victims of the attacks have been threatened and bullied into silence.
I believe that is where we are today ? not just with respect to health insurance, but with respect to health care generally. I'm afraid other industries are not far behind.
During the debate leading up to the passage of the Affordable Care Act, I talked to a number of CEOs of large health insurance companies. I frequently heard such comments as, "Don't tell anyone I told you this" or, "If you use this information, don't mention my name" and even, "Don't tell anyone that we ever had this conversation."
John C. Goodman is President and CEO of the National Center for Policy Analysis, Senior Fellow at The Independent Institute, and author of the acclaimed book, Priceless: Curing the Healthcare Crisis. The Wall Street Journal and National Journal, among other media, have called him the "Father of Health Savings Accounts." He is also the Kellye Wright Fellow in health care. The mission of the Wright Fellowship is to promote a more patient-centered, consumer-driven health care system.
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