There’s a lot of hubbub about the broken health care system in the U.S. There are lot’s of people throwing terms around without knowing what they mean, or without defining them clearly. Terms like ‘socialist’ and ‘fascist’, like HMO, ‘health care’, and ‘insurance’. Half of the talk (or print) you’ll run into just confuses the issue and short-circuits thinking patterns because we don’t ask the question, ‘what do mean by that?’ The other question we should be asking is ‘what are your sources?’
So, if you’re debating with anyone about these issues, please, be careful enough to ask these questions– they’re important. They help avoid fallacious arguments, or arguments about things that aren’t ‘health care’.
In my not so humble opinion, I see 4 major problems with health care, roughly in order of importance I’ll list them here, with some short explanations. I’m thinking that I’ll add 4 larger posts later, detailing them.
1- Price Gouging
I owe this one to some other people– I’ve seen personal evidence of it as well, but largely, my understanding of this one has been through Morris, who I’ve invited to guest post on my blog about this very subject. (We’ll see if he’s ever actually willing to update his written argument)
The basic concept is that in order to maximize profits, health companies charge as much as they want, huge, astronomical prices (at least to the uninsured). Insurance companies are a big enough part of their business that they have bargaining power to reduce prices– so in order to make the most profit, costs to the uninsured skyrocket. Typically the price an insurance company pays for a procedure is from about a third, to about a tenth what an uninsured person will pay.
The price discrimination is backwards, don’t you think? The poor people should be the ones paying less, and the rich paying more– and such has historically been the case (although perhaps not universally so, just generally).
2- Health Care Provider/ Insurance Company Monopolies
In the 1970s, the government instituted laws effectively allowing virtual monopolies within each of the states (I have yet to find the source for the actual legislation in the 1970s or 1980s– I’ll post it with a later analysis).
3- Shortage of Doctors
It’s fairly obvious that it would be difficult to maintain a decent doctor to patient ratio with the aging babyboomers. However, that’s only half the story. Schools in the 1980s capped the number of doctors who could graduate in a given year, and those caps haven’t significantly changed in 20 years. This makes an available doctor and his time scarcer and scarcer. Somehow it doesn’t seem like this would improve a patient’s health care.
4- Ridiculous ‘CEO compensation’ and other aspects of ‘money driven medicine’ (including the high cost of medical malpractice insurance)
In recent years, there has been an ever-inflating bubble of costs associated with malpractice insurance and ‘compensation’ to CEOs for their services in ‘saving’ costs. There are many unnecessary costs in these situations that could largely be reduced, if we actually cared enough to make it clear that as a people we won’t stand for this kind of unethical and irresponsible moneygrubbing behavior. Check out the healthcare renewal blog at hcrenewal.blogspot.com for more stories along these lines, they post a lot of them.