A reader writes:
Read your healthcare articles. They were quite interesting. I’ve heard before that universal health care in other countries does not fare well, and was skeptical about it to begin with. The only problem I have with the free market system is that someone can be denied treatment at a hospital simply because they don’t have health insurance. If there was a way to keep the health care system 100% privatized and guarantee medical attention to every citizen, I’d be all for it.
Well, reader, let’s break this down:
1) In the United States, by law, no hospital is permitted to deny care of any level to anyone needing it. Hospitals are required to provide the same level of care for everyone, regardless of their ability to pay. No insurance? No problem! That’s why so many illegal immigrants come here 8 months pregnant… free healthcare and an anchor baby! Also, many homeless people know how to milk the system… they know the right words to say in order to get free drugs, pregnancy tests, and rooms & food for up to 3 days. The hospitals know it happens, they know who’s doing it, but by law they can’t stop people from taking advantage of it. And that’s right now, today, from the mouths of the 1 doctor and 2 nurses that we personally know. And who pays for this “free care” they’re getting? Everyone who carries medical insurance, and everyone who pays taxes, since Medicaid picks up part of the bill too. (See this NY Post article.)
2) The government is deeply involved in regulating the healthcare industry today. Lots of mandates and regulations and red tape. Health insurance is wildly expensive, and so is healthcare. Compare this to the auto insurance industry (which has zero gov’t interference) where the prices are continuously going down and every 6th ad on TV is for car insurance where you can call or go online and get insurance in minutes.
3) Also compare health insurance & healthcare to the veterinary medicine industry where by and large there is no insurance and everything is “cash for services”. Vet school is actually tougher than med school (many doctors became doctors after they washed out of vet school) and is just as expensive. A year ago, we reported about a dog’s ACL surgery consisting of an overnight stay, epidural, pain killers, antibioics, anesthesia, on operating room with all the monitors and stuff, a full OR staff (anesthesiologist, nurses, the vet doing the surgery) and titianium pieces & parts. Total cost? $2500. For a human, ACL surgery costs $15,000+ for the same level of care. Why? First, vet malpractice suits are capped at $500, so vets don’t have to spend 50%+ of their salary paying for malpractice insurance. Second: zero government involvement in the vet business. Coincidence? We think not.
4) No one complains about spending $35 to get the oil changed in their car. No one complains about spending $100 for a chimney sweep, or $200 for Roto-rooter to come clear out their drains. There’s no “car service insurance” that covers oil changes and tire rotations, or “home maintenance insurance” to cover chimney sweeps and Roto-rooter. But people get all bent out of shape about spending $60 for a checkup at a doctor, and balk about a $100 blood test. They pay unflinchingly every other bill, but they think medical stuff should be free. Why?