John Stossel, former ABC journalist and soon-to-be host on Fox Business Network, has won 19 Emmys for making viewers think. He did just that today as well, addressing nearly 950 attendees of the Economic Club of Indiana luncheon.
The key focus of today’s discussion was health care reform. Stossel notes his hesitation at referring to "Obamacare" as reform due to his contention that it won’t really improve anything. Prior to the speech, a video was shown in which he points out that Lasik eye surgery costs have dropped significantly over time in the free market, and tied that to the fact that the surgery is not covered by insurance (adding that costs of procedures that are covered have climbed over the same span).
"Obama says the current (health care) system is unsustainable, and he’s right," Stossel offered. "Medicare is $36 trillion in the hole."
Stossel referred to the program as a Ponzi scheme, adding, "We locked Bernie Madoff up for this."
He contended that though some may claim Europe has been successful with its government-oriented health care, the continent is reaping benefits of American innovation when it comes to procedures and technology.
"If you ask doctors what have been the most significant developments in the past 20 years… most are from the United States," Stossel said. "Europe is freeloading on American innovation. If the government gets more involved, the innovation will stop."
Additionally, he offered an indictment of community rating, quipping, "If they did that for car insurance, you’d be paying the same as Lindsay Lohan."
Possible solutions from Stossel included allowing insurance companies to offer different types of plans for different people, allowing those plans to cross state lines, and to promote tort reform (touting a "loser pays" system, something he claims the rest of the world already does).
When asked how he developed his "brand" as a libertarian and contrarian in the media, he claimed, "I think it comes from not going to journalism school. I just thought about what I would want to watch."
For more from Stossel on these and other matters, see his July op-ed from Reason magazine and check your local listings for his new show.