President Trump gave a wide-ranging speech to a receptive audience of largely younger people (under 50) last week at CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference).

When I say under 50, I mean people who pay Social Security taxes, knowing they will not see this money returned to them, ever. I mean people blessed and energized by 21st-century technology, yet directly burdened by a level of government interference in the economy not seen since the Great Depression. I mean people who don’t like being told what to think by whatever political party has targeted them.

Trump emphasized that more socialism in the United States would be a bad thing, whether in a Green New Deal, or with the elimination of private health insurance.

Considering the GND, we may chuckle about no aircraft, cars or cows. But elimination of private health insurance, and its “replacement” by a government “something,” on the surface, sounds good to many people, especially those currently being poorly served and ill-treated by the current government-connected health care cartels.

A friend shared a story he heard recently, over eggs and toast at a local eatery. A citizen needed an MRI. He asked the price, and the regional hospital quoted him $1,500. He looked concerned, mentioned that was expensive, and the provider offered that the cash price was $500. Curiously, that $500 is exactly what his insurance plan would have him pay. For a lot of people, this looks like a wash.

When I say a wash, I’m thinking a real laundering.

I’ve mentioned previously that the unintended consequences of government “solutions” can sometimes be the best part of government. In this case, the U.S. government-managed health care industry, along with government-protected Big Pharma and Big Insurance, have caused a lot of people to look for options that make more sense. Oh, by “government protected,” I mean protected by policy, regulation, and legislation from real international and domestic competition on price and services, and the elimination of individual choice in the healthcare market.

The good news is that high prices and limited choices lead to competition, both above board and not. One popular choice for people is to simply not have insurance and take their chances. The existence of Health Savings Accounts have become popular, and a new way for businesses to compete for employees. The number of health care professionals operating on a cash-only basis is growing rapidly. Health care cost-sharing programs like Medi-Share are also expanding as alternatives to insurance. Medical tourism is becoming commonplace. Disruptive innovators, like Health Excellence Plus, allow people and their employers to take charge of their health care for life.

All of this is matched by increased interest across the board in healthier food, natural treatments and preventatives, which incidentally include cannabis products. By the way, one of my best friends on the Shenandoah County Republican Committee is also a cannabis and marijuana legalization advocate.

This entrepreneurial disruption in health care is, in fact, a reaction to the creation of a huge U.S. health care cartel, fostered by years of legislative protectionism and cronyism. Government nannyism in the health care marketplace started long before the ACA. It has consistently and predictably increased the overall cost of health care and decreased consumer choices.

As a veteran, I watch VA Hospital annual budgets, costs and performance closely. Socialized health care already exists in this country, for veterans. It’s funded by all taxpayers, each year, and it benefits a literal handful of Americans, who often find it nearly impossible to hold government (the VA) accountable for errors, mistakes and poor service. Suing the federal government is not easy, especially when you are poor and sick.

NBC recently found that 72 percent of people don’t like socialism and will not assist in moving the country further in that direction. Why? One reason might be because we have been watching it grow in American health care over the past 20 years, and it simply does not deliver what it promises. Now that government regulation and interference in health care has pretty much-driven costs for providers and consumers through the roof, new ideas and entrepreneurial visions have space to flourish.

A few years ago, it was deemed illegal for Americans to choose NOT to purchase health insurance. Today, the same health care cartel is working hard to deem illegal the very creative, market-driven, and community-based solutions that its own failures have fueled.

Next time you’re talking about treatment with a health care provider, ask for the cash price. It’s eye-opening.

Karen Kwiatkowski is a wife, mother and grandmother, and a former U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel. She raises cattle and sheep in Shenandoah County and stays involved in local Republican politics.