Samuelson on Obama's health care plan: 'Naive, hypocritical or simply dishonest'

The Washington Pos t economics columnist Robert Samuelson has a few choice words for President Obama's national health care proposal:

The central cause of runaway health spending is clear. Hospitals and doctors are paid mostly on a fee-for-service basis and reimbursed by insurance, either private or governmental. The open-ended payment system encourages doctors and hospitals to provide more services -- and patients to expect them. It also favors new medical technologies, which are made profitable by heavy use. Unfortunately, what pleases providers and patients individually hurts the nation as a whole.

That's the crux of the health-care dilemma, and Obama hasn't confronted it. His emphasis on controlling costs is cosmetic. The main aim of health-care "reform" being fashioned in Congress is to provide insurance to most of the 46 million uncovered Americans. This is popular and seems the moral thing to do. After all, hardly anyone wants to be without insurance. But the extra coverage might actually worsen the spending problem.

How much healthier today's uninsured would be with that coverage is unclear. They already receive health care -- $116 billion worth in 2008, estimates Families USA, an advocacy group.

Every free market economist who has examined Obama's health care proposals have reached the same conclusion for the same reasons: costs of the program will not shrink over the years but actually spiral out of control because of the additional insureds and the fact that once people realize that the plan will ration health care services, people will opt for more expensive health insurance plans that pay for services not approved by the government plan.

And taxpayers will be on the hook for the rising costs.

Read the entire piece by Samuelson who also lists the reasons why Obama is nuts for thinking he will bring down spending on health care.

Hat Tip: Ed Lasky