Harry Potter and the Dragon of Health Care

Published June 1, 2001

A mature Harry Potter has traveled through the Outerland, to the banks of the Hogwash. From here he can see his final destination: the Ministry of the Village. The Villages’ inhabitants, known as Republocrats, are faceless mutations of an old two-party political system.

Ever since Harry’s parents disappeared in the bureaucratic Medicare maze, his life-long quest has been to reform the Dragon of Health Care, a six-headed beast so large as to command growing authority over one trillion dollars of the Outerland economy.

But Harry has a problem. He wants to restrain the beast without killing it, knowing full well there is some inherent good in the creature if it can be made to submit to free citizens in a free market.

Seeking Help from Thinkers

Recalling his Father often spoke favorably of free-thinkers huddled in thinking-tanks all over the Outerland, Harry decides to enlist the aid of those opposed to collectivist logic. A secret meeting is arranged along the Outlander banks of the Hogwash, out of sight of the Ministry of the Village.

The Thinktankers advise Harry in the formulation of a plan to repeal and reform health care laws that, for 35 years, have incrementally and step-by-step compromised the free-market.

Such a plan, they assure him, promises to save the Outlanders from oppressive laws dictated by the Ministry of the Village while restraining the Dragon of Health Care.

Taming the Dragon

Before outlining the plan they have for Harry, the Head Thinker warns him: “Finding our way back will require more than retracing our steps, repealing each generation of counterproductive policies as we come across them, because those polices are often justified by the faulty policies that preceded them.”

End the medical cartel: “The first assault on freedom in health care occurred in the 1930s, when the American Medical Association was given power to certify medical schools, enabling it to reduce the supply of doctors and limit the public’s access to the professional records of doctors and hospitals.”

End over-reliance on third-party insurance: “During World War II, government wage and price controls led some creative employers to offer health insurance as a way to attract talented workers. After the war, for tax purposes, employer-provided insurance benefits were treated as a business expense rather than as earned income, making them tax exempt. The effects were profound.

“The system came to be overwhelmingly financed by insurers retained by third parties (usually employers). Demand for health care soared, as patients no longer were required to balance the benefits of care against their costs. The second step back to health care freedom, then, is to change the tax code so it treats insurance purchased by individuals the same as insurance purchased by employers.”

Reform Medicare and Medicaid: “Medicaid (for the poor) and Medicare (for the elderly) inject hundreds of billions of dollars into the health care market. That cash infusion dramatically increases demand for health care, and because payments are made to providers rather than patients, millions of consumers are immune to price considerations.

“Medicaid and Medicare can be reformed by giving the poor and the elderly vouchers with which to purchase insurance in the private marketplace. They should be permitted to add their own money to their vouchers to buy more extensive insurance coverage, or settle for less coverage and deposit the unspent voucher dollars into MSAs.”

Repeal insurance regulations: “Because the unemployed and their dependents are left out of a system that rewards employer-provided insurance, legislation was adopted in 1996 forcing insurers to write policies for the first group and subsidizing insurance for the latter. As a result, we have seen wholesale abandonment of the individual health insurance market by many insurers and huge premium increases [by those remaining in the market]. Cost-cutting efforts by managed care plans have produced a backlash by angry doctors and patients, resulting in a raft of pending laws to impose still more regulations on insurers and providers.”

The solution, the Thinktankers warned, might sound a bit magical. It must, they chanted in unison, allow “individuals, not employers or government, to purchase and own most health insurance policies. Competition, not regulation, will keep health care costs and insurance premiums low.”

Practical Agenda?

Harry is astounded by the advice. “What?” he asks. “No new taxes? No new entitlements? No new regulations? I asked for a plan and I’ve been given a non-plan, a blueprint for dismantling the system built by our parents!”

The wisest of the Thinktankers smiled a knowing smile and replied, ” Does not a skilled roofer know that the new roof should not be installed over the old roof, but the old roof should be first stripped off? Why, then, does our prescription for health care reform seem odd to you?”

Harry had no answer. He knew what he had to do. With determination and courage, he took the first steps across the Hogwash, ready to meet with Republocrats.


Harry Potter The kid wizard created by J.K. Rowling.

Collectivist logic A one-size-fits-all mentality leading to the creation of legislation with no regard for mental, physical, or financial differences among those whom the legislation affects.

Free-market A concept of capitalism allowing citizens the right to freely choose products and services best-suited to their individual needs.

Hogwash A large water moat separating the Ministry of the Village from Outerland.

Ministry of the Village Repository for money taken from the rewards of labor earned by Outlander citizens. Its governing documents include It Takes A Village, by Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Outerland The region from east to west and north to south, once called the United States, separated from the Ministry of the Village by the Hogwash moat.

Outlanders Those of us who aren’t employed by the Ministry of the Village.

Republocrat: One who subscribes to the faulty notion there is a stable halfway point between capitalism and socialism.

Dragon of Health Care: The six heads are HIPAA, Medicare, Medicaid, KidCare, Managed Care, and Universal Health Care.

Thinktankers: Wizards of common sense and champions of the free market. They are employed—and many appear to reside in—think tanks.

Think Tank: Nonprofit, nonpartisan institutions dedicated to preserving the individual’s rights to enter into private contracts, own private property, and freely choose goods and services in accordance with one’s individual needs.