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Let Them Buy Health Care At Wal-Mart!

Reported by Ellen - May 16, 2009 -

Co-authored by Brian

Another Fox News day, another unbalanced discussion about health insurance options in America. On Forbes on Fox last week (5/9/09), David Asman and Fox tried to argue that because people can buy $4.00 prescriptions at Wal-Mart (skipping over the fact that it's only for generic drugs), there's no need for government intervention in the rest of our health care.

As usual, the discussion included nobody who had been denied health insurance coverage because of a pre-existing condition, nobody whose doctor-approved treatments had been denied coverage under an existing plan and nobody whose drugs were not available in generic form. There wasn't even a medical professional or health insurance professional to offer their sides of the equation. Bill Baldwin did a valiant job of touching on those points but he's obviously not an expert.

Predictably, that didn't stop the rest of the usual cast of business experts from playing health-care experts on TV. Mike Ozanian said, "We don't need Obama's socialized medicine. What we need is more being able to buy insurance outside of the state. We need more portability. We need to give individuals the same tax credits corporations get."

Sounds great. But how much would that increase coverage? Who would be left out? If you're denied coverage in your own state, would buying out of state solve the problem? Ozanian didn't say.

Host David Asman said, "Let's talk specifically about what Wal-Mart is doing. They are essentially providing prescription medicine at a much cheaper cost by removing the middleman." He forgot to mention that it applies to generic drugs, only. For those of us who have been prescribed drugs not available in generic form... good luck.

Ozanian, ignoring the restrictions, crowed, "Exactly. That brings in efficiency and lower prices. That's what moving towards the free market would do as opposed to Obama's plan, which would make it more expensive."

John Rutledge said, "Wal-Mart has done more for health care and medicine than all our government added together will ever do." And what qualifies HIM to make that statement? Apparently, it's because he's had the "misfortunate of being a vendor to Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart will break your spine on the price. Low prices and delivery on-site is what people need. That's what Wal-Mart can deliver."

Bill Baldwin said, "I worship the free market, except for when it doesn't quite work. The problem with Wal-Mart's "I-can-get-it-for-you-wholesale" approach is it doesn't take into account differences in people's genes. Some people need $1 million a year in medicine to stay alive. Some people will be profitable clients for an insurance premium. What do you do about that? My answer is Obama comes up with subsidies. It's a lot of money for somebody. It's a little bit of money for somebody who has no medical problems. Then, the market takes over."

Asman replied, "No plan is perfect, but don't you think the market can come up with better solutions than the brainiacs inside the beltway?"

And until then, the rest of us can just stay sick.