September 18, 2004


A liberating solution (Bill Steigerwald, September 18, 2004, Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW)

Health savings accounts are a clever way to let you control your own medical costs, choose your own doctors and save money, too. And they're coming soon to an employer near you. Much of the credit goes to Rick Santorum, Pennsylvania's junior U.S. senator. [...]

Q: What exactly is a health savings account?

A: It's similar to an IRA or an education savings account, which is a tax-free account. In other words, it's money you can divert from your paycheck, and your employer can put this money into an account, tax-free.

Q: Some people have called them "medical IRAs"?

A: That's essentially what it is. It creates an opportunity for you and your employer to put money aside for you to be spent tax-free as long as you are spending it on health care. When you combine this health savings account with a catastrophic insurance account, it is a way for you to insure yourself in a way that puts you in complete control of your health care purchases. That's the beauty of this health savings account. When you combine it with a high deductible insurance plan, your employer and you can combine together to provide a very, very effective way of providing coverage. [...]

Q: So this is the government getting out of the way of a solid market solution to a major problem.

A: People say, "How are we going to control health care costs?" I say, "Look at health savings accounts as the first line of defense." I really believe this is one of the real keys to controlling health care costs.

Q: What we'd like to see on the libertarian end of things is to get the government out of the health care business altogether.

A: It's more personal responsibility and less government, but also corporate management of people's affairs by bureaucrats in corporations and insurance companies, not just bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. This is really a liberating thing and a market-based solution to the problem.

Next they'll get over the steel tariffs...

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 18, 2004 8:35 AM

Perhaps on that same day, "orthodox" conservatives will concede the catastrophic unwinnability of the War on Drugs.

Posted by: Francis W. Porretto at September 18, 2004 12:40 PM


It's been won. It's socially unacceptable among the middle classes to do drugs.

Posted by: oj at September 18, 2004 1:27 PM

Francis: as long as you pay for for your own rehab (or funeral) I could care less what you do to yourself.

Posted by: joe shropshire at September 18, 2004 1:50 PM


Tut-tut--that too is a libertarian attitude and indecent.

Posted by: oj at September 18, 2004 1:58 PM


By that logic, the War on Murder and Rape and Grand Theft Auto and Shoplifting, etc. are all unwinnable since somewhere someone is committing one of these crimes. Like Orrin said, the vast majority of the tens of millions of Americans understand that drug use in wrong; therefore, the War has been won.


Drug use does more than just harm the user; it harms many innocent, nonusers as well. It is not just a fiscal issue.

Posted by: Vince at September 18, 2004 5:23 PM


It's socially unacceptable among the middle class to do drugs ?

You're kidding, of course. More like, "naughty".

In any case, since the War on Drugs has been won, let's stop spending $ 19 billion a year on it, (an amount which could handily pay for a crewed Mars mission over a decade), and stop arresting a half-million people a year for mere possession of small amounts of marijuana, not for intent to sell.

Also, why does the Bush administration feel the need to hide the cost of the War on Drugs ?
They changed the criterion for inclusion as a "drug war" agency expense, with the result that the reported expense has been cut by 40%, while spending has been cut by NOTHING.


Yes, crime will continue to exist until we develop mind control, or at least mind reading.
So too will Americans continue to buy drugs. Since our current approach isn't working, perhaps trying something else would make sense.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at September 18, 2004 7:00 PM


Go rent five movies from the 70s and five from last year and check the levels of nudity, profanity and drug use--we've re-Puritanized.

You don't let down your defenses just cause you're winning and we want those folks in jail.

Posted by: oj at September 18, 2004 7:08 PM


Just how many of those arrested "half-million people a year for mere possession of small amounts of marijuana, not for intent to sell" ever spend one night in jail or have to pay any fine more than $100, assuming, of course, that some very liberal judge has not thrown out the charge or a very liberal D.A. has not refused to prosecute or that the accused was found not guilty?

Posted by: Vince at September 18, 2004 8:00 PM


Then why arrest them ?

Just give 'em a ticket and confiscate their herb.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at September 19, 2004 12:26 AM

If we didn't arrest them, then marijuana use would skyrocket, and the myriad of chaotic problems that come with the use of this narcotic would skyrocket as well. Just imagine how much fewer marijuana users we would have in this country if we really got serious with those who we arrested; and since we know that marijuana use leads to much harder drugs, cocaine,heroin and methamphetamine use would plummet as well. Mend it, don't end it!

Posted by: Vince at September 19, 2004 8:51 PM

Marijuana use would skyrocket ?!?

Anyone who wants to use, already uses. It's easier for teens to get marijuana than tobacco cigarettes.

I'm not talking about legalization, of being able to buy a pack of "Marlboro Marijuana" or "Camel Chronic" at the 7-11, but simply of decriminalization for small amounts, as in California and Alaska.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at September 20, 2004 4:39 AM