12 June 2009

Government In Your Refrigerator: Health Care & Liberty

Safeway CEO Steven Burd has got a great piece in today's WSJ describing his company's market-based reform of their healthcare plan. Effectively, they have incentivized good behavior--not smoking and reducing your weight, for instance--while penalizing the flip side of that coin.

Their costs have remained flat since instituting this plan and now Burd wants to be able to increase the cost penalty of bad behavior/incentive for good behavior to more accurately reflect the real costs.

All of this is fine and innovative for a private company; I do not like the liberty-infringing possibilities of this type of reform coupled with universal health care.

As with anything else, it is one thing for a private entity, which gives employees the choice to work there or somewhere else, to adopt these types of reforms. I don't even really have a problem with Medicare/Medicaid adopting these types of market incentives/penalties.

But this type of response from the Federal Government in a universal healthcare environment is just one example of the loss of individual liberty. Of course the government is going to take an interest in what you eat and smoke when they are the ones footing the bill for your healthcare.

When I pick up the London tabloids to see what's what (not often, obviously) I often read about how some arm of NHS (their universal healthcare agency) is going door to door to take a look-see in people's refrigerators.

At this stage, it's just "taking a look." But the next, logical step is to prohibit consumption of whatever the government deems unhealthful or whatever. It doesn't take a predictive genius to see where this is going: complete government prohibition on whatever is considered "bad" and forced adoption of whatever the latest science considers "good."

And they said you couldn't legislate morality.

If you have tips, questions, comments or suggestions, email me at lybberty@gmail.com.