Robert E. Freer

Medical insurance abuses that fueled the legislative thrust that created a Progressive “cure” is worse than the ailment. We do need improvements in insurance coverage options, but one thing worse than insurance companies dictating treatment is government-controlled insurance companies dictating treatment. The balanced relationship between producer and consumer is rudely interrupted by government bureaucracy. In the case of mandated medical insurance, the patient-doctor relationship is interrupted by the insurance company and the government bureaucracy. No longer is the best treatment for the patient privately agreed to between patient and doctor, but instead is to be dictated by a bureaucratic technocrat and the insurance company that is controlled by the government.

In a free market, if a patient does not receive proper service from an insurance company or the doctor, the patient has other choices. In government-controlled medical and insurance industries, choice is removed. We have just one government enforcing a one-size-fits-all national standard. In effect, quality declines, choices decrease, costs increase, and the entire economy is saddled by astronomical and rapidly increasing debt.

As substantiated by Forbes and National Review, data compiled by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) confirms that per-capita public-health expenditures of the United States were the third-highest in the world in 2007. For the past thirty years, medical care dollars has increased two percentage points faster than the economy, and it is currently 18% of G.D.P. (Gross Domestic Product). One third of medical costs do nothing to improve patients' health. The government is complicit in this waste, and the American people are accomplices, because they benefit in the short-term from the wasteful system. However, the American consumer is disadvantaged in the long run, because a system as large as a national system is wasteful.

As the Cato Institute puts it, "Government is largely incapable of eliminating wasteful health care spending, because nobody spends other people's money as carefully as they spend their own. Government tax and entitlement policy denies patients ownership of their health care dollars, and strips them of any incentive to control costs." Our profligate national spending on health care is without a reasonably expected result from such Federal intrusion into a private system that works well. Could it be that such federal largesse is in itself a major inflating cause of our cost escalator?

The Obama administration and the Progressive solution is to control costs through rationing, and we know how poorly that works. Using a 15-member Independent Payment Advisory Board, beginning in 2015, the IPAB will determine what treatments and services are covered. Patients and doctors will be stripped of their personal and professional power to decide from among all options for their patients

Disturbingly, the IPAB is empowered to circumvent Congress. Congress chooses 12 of the 15 members and the president chooses the remaining three. Members are confirmed by the Senate. Once the members are seated, their power is secured in six-year terms. The board’s regulations become law after seven months if Congress doesn't officially veto the policies. Ergo, Congress passed a law, Obamacare, that would prohibit them from exercising their Constitutional power to change the law in the future. How many members of Congress are aware of that? That power in the hands of these fifteen is ultimately the power of life or death for patients.

Under a free market system, consumers will benefit from lower costs, because their choices in medical care plans and insurance companies will whittle down costs to meet their needs and financial abilities. The free market filters out wasteful spending, because consumers will ration their own medical care and reap the rewards through healthier minds, bodies, and bank accounts.

Robert E. Freer

Professor Freer is the BB&T Visiting Professor in Ethics and Free Enterprise Leadership at The Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina in Charleston, S.C., after a career in law, government, and corporate management spanning a half century. Professor Freer served as a government trial attorney, assistant to two Chairmen of the Federal Trade Commission, and for the General Counsel of the U.S. Department of Transportation. Picked by Kimberly–Clark Corporation to be its Washington Counsel, he became its youngest vice-president and was responsible for its representation before all governmental bodies, and for energy management and environmental compliance and control. Following his retirement from Kimberly-Clark, he was a principle in several law firms, including his own mid-sized Washington firm, and came to the academic realm as the first John S. Grinalds Leader in Residence at The Citadel and as an adjunct professor at The Charleston School of Law.

Prof. Freer was part of a very small team working with Casper Weinberger and Edwin Meese to create the structure for the Reagan Administration’s transition. He was appointed by President Ronald Reagan as a Commissioner of the White House Fellows Commission and served as Captain of the Grace Commission’s Land Team. He also served as Assistant General Counsel of four Republican National Conventions.

Prof. Freer founded the Washington Metropolitan Area Corporate Counsel’s Association in 1979. He followed that as the co-founder of the Republican National Lawyers Association in 1985, Washington Episcopal School in 1986, of which he remains Chairman Emeritus, Lawyers for the Republic in 1988, the U.S. Cuba Business Council in 1993, and the Free Enterprise Foundation in 2002, for which he is the current chairman.

Dr. Freer has also edited and authored several books: Finding Our Roots, Facing Our Future: America in the 21st Century, Citadel Values I and II, and the novel, Eagles Quest under the pseudonym Elliott Robins.