The Long Version

Retired broadcast journalist. Blogging helps scratch the itch. Recovering exRepublican – Sober and still Conservative.

Posts Tagged ‘socialized medicine

No. Socialized Medicine Is Not the Answer

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Socialized medicineWhenever I see people arguing about universal healthcare aka single-payer system aka socialized medicine, I always see the same rationale when it comes to why it would work here when it has been less than ideal in every other country where it is used. “Because we (America) can do it better! We can do it right.”

That’s a fallacy.

No different than this idea that we can somehow make Socialism work as a political governing ideology. No, we can’t. No one has and no one will.

Socialized medicine will fail here just as we see it failing, or at best providing benefits well below what we’ve come to expect from American medicine. Why?

Human nature.

People lack appreciation and/or respect for things they get for free. If I have to provide examples here, you’ve never been in a public park restroom. People don’t value what they don’t pay for. When there’s no skin in the game they don’t care. When you take competition from a marketplace and replace it with guaranteed free services it creates expectations from which an entitlement mentality forms.

It is well documented in single-payer systems where doctors and nurses deal with more self-entitled people coming into their facility demanding healthcare because, “my tax dollars pay your salary.” It’s demoralizing for medical professionals. Quality of care suffers. People become objects to be slowly dragged through the system (often waiting long periods of time between treatments or to begin them) to milk as much money from the government as it can.

When you try to take the profit motive out of business and give government the reins to that business, all you really do is transfer the motive away from the business to customer relationship required to maintain customer loyalty to that business, to “how can I get more government money from this person?” To combat this the government with its deep pockets of taxpayer dollars, will pour more money into a broken system. It will pass more regulations to make things “fair.” Due to the fact that tax dollars are NOT unlimited, the government must, at some point, pick and choose what it deems a “necessary” operation or treatment to save on costs. In one example out of Canada a dental patient was in need of a root canal. The government said no, it was an “unnecessary tooth” and would only pay to have the tooth removed. “Necessity” is subjective.

Our healthcare system became the best in the world because of our innovation which is spurred by competition. Argue till you’re blue in the face, but if you take away competition, innovation will slow or even die with it because innovation is risky and expensive. Who will invest in new treatments, drugs, or surgical procedures, if government price-fixing doesn’t provide a way for the risk taker to get a return on investment?

The problem isn’t our medical system. The problem is with our politicians who always manage to get their grubby fingers into the private sector. They’re in bed with the insurance industry, big Pharma, and the large healthcare conglomerates. The mutual back-scratching is endless. Regulations have largely catered to these big businesses, not to patients or doctors. I believe one step to take would be to remove as many federal regulations as possible. Allow insurance to be sold across state lines. Make it a true competitive marketplace. Insurance shouldn’t be tied to employment. That doesn’t mean employers can’t use it as a benefit to entice high quality workers but it shouldn’t be incentivized with tax perks. We should be allowed to shop for our healthcare just as we would a car or home. Enough with these hospital “networks” that only take such and such insurance.

Free market forces are incredible regulators and balancers when allowed to function properly and under the watchful eye of honest ethical leadership. Does that mean there will be winners and losers? Yes. But that’s life. Those who provide the best care and service for the best price will win and prosper. Those who don’t will lose and go out of business. Family doctors and practices will return to communities rather than reside only with large, exclusive, medical conglomerates. Family practitioners and general physicians would be salaried in a single-payer system with less control over their pay and though many argue their pay would not go down that simply isn’t feasible unless the number of doctors and nurses is curtailed or reduced. Over-specialization in medicine, which is one reason costs are so high in the U.S, will self-moderate based on market forces.

The truly needy who can’t afford care can, and should, be provided with care. There must always be a safety net. There is no reason we can’t create one that actually works within the private sector.

I don’t claim to know all the answers, nor do I believe government can’t have a role in our healthcare system, but it should be one of oversight and enforcement of laws to make sure the care providers and companies in the medical industry are operating fairly and ethically. Government enforces the rules and laws deemed necessary by the people it governs. That is one thing it can and should do well. Government should not be paying individual bills or managing the private sector. That is not its function and it has proven over and over again how poorly government manages anything business related.

We can get our healthcare system back to where it is healthy and functions to help all Americans afford and have access to proper healthcare. We don’t need to follow in Canada or Great Britain’s footsteps.

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Written by DCL

November 9, 2018 at 3:33 pm