Another day, another poorly poorly designed policy although this one is just a straight out bribe to rip the votes away from Winston First.
People are seeing Labour’s cynical health policy for what it is, a bribe, with money the government doesn’t even have.
When policymakers in the modern world worry about the cost to future taxpayers of ageing populations, pensions are only part of it. Healthcare also contributes to the bill. As is always evident in doctors’ waiting rooms, older people are heavy users of health services. But it is not just their number that is increasing as the postwar baby boom moves into retirement; advances in the care and treatment of organ deterioration are rapidly extending the human lifespan. Welcome and wondrous as they are, the treatments come at ever increasing cost to a decreasing ratio of working taxpayers.
For that reason, younger voters ought to ask hard questions of the Labour Party’s election promise to provide free primary healthcare for everyone over 65. The first question to ask is, how many of them need it? Some with chronic conditions may struggle to afford a fee for the frequent visits they need, but these days general practices are funded for the needs of a range of enrolled patients and doctors can vary their charges. Labour proposes to replace doctors’ discretion with free consultations and medicines to the over-65s regardless of their ability to pay.
It would give the elderly the same benefits provided to children up to age 13 in this year’s Budget, which Labour endorses. It would add pregnant women to the free list too, for any medical attention they might need in addition to the prenatal care that is already free. Not all parents of children under 13, or expectant mothers, need these benefits either. Many can well afford to pay a fee. But at least a case can be made in generational equity for children and young parents. Not so, the older generation.
Labour is offering free doctors and medicines to a generation that grew up in a welfare state, attended university at a fraction of the cost faced by their children, bought houses at lower relative prices, had their top income tax rates reduced by half early in their working years and enjoyed galloping house price inflation in their peak earning period.