Thomas Sowell
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Within living memory, most Americans had no medical insurance. Even large medical bills were paid off over a period of months or years, just as we buy big-ticket items like cars or houses.

This is not ideal for everybody or every situation. But if we are ready to rush headlong into government control of our lives every time something is not ideal, then we are not going to remain a free people very long.

Ironically, it is politicians who have already made medical insurance so expensive that many people refuse to buy it. Insurance is designed to cover risk. But politicians have mandated that insurance cover things that are not risks and that neither the buyers nor the sellers of insurance want covered.

In various states, medical insurance must cover the costs of fertility treatments, annual checkups and other things that have nothing to do with risks. What many people most want is to be insured against the risk of having their life's savings wiped out by a catastrophic illness.

But you cannot get insurance just for catastrophic illnesses when politicians keep piling on mandates that drive up the cost of the insurance. These are usually state mandates but the federal government is already promising more mandates on insurance companies-- which means still higher costs and higher premiums.

All this makes a farce of the notion of a "public option" that will simply provide competition to keep private insurance companies honest. What politicians can and will do is continue to drive up the cost of private insurance until it is no longer viable. A "public option" is simply a path toward a "single payer" system, a euphemism for a government monopoly.

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Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

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