Let’s remember that we got into this healthcare cost crisis because we socialized our healthcare dollars by pooling them together and allowing doctors and hospitals to charge whatever they could against that overfunded pool. Over the years, the increase in the cost of healthcare has outpaced the insurance companies’ ability to add new members to the pool and to charge marketable premiums. Insurance premiums which the government and companies once gladly paid, instead of increased wages, are now crippling their operational costs. Now, insurance companies are cutting doctor’s fees, denying medical services, and increasing premiums to overbearing amounts. The goose that laid the golden eggs is now biting back. Doctors and hospitals which once lavished in the socialized pooling of healthcare dollars now bitterly complain that insurance companies hamper their ability to function in the free market system by having bureaucrats and insurance clerks determine their fees. That’s almost laughable. There is hardly anything free market about our healthcare system. It is a socialized mess.
What are our options? Anything we try to do is going to be chaotic. We’ve taken a free market entity and turned it into a socialized entity in a market system which is still primarily free market. The major problem is that forces other than free market forces have artificially inflated the cost of healthcare beyond what it would be if health insurance never came along. So, the chief question is: What do we do with the artificially inflated medical costs?
To a large extent there’s not much we can do. Doctors couldn’t keep their doors open if we went back before insurance and applied cost of living and inflation rates to their fees and paid them what that calculated out to be in today’s dollars. In other words, their business overhead has gotten artificially higher than what they would be making today if health insurance would have never happened. In order for them to make it, we’d have to make the same calculations with all medical suppliers and everyone associated with medical costs. That’s not going to happen. Medical costs are going to be out of balance with personal wages for the foreseeable future. That gap is likely to never get close again. To a large degree, undoing our artificially inflated medical costs is like trying to unboil a hardboiled egg. That’s the problem with socialized anything.
Medical costs are so high that a person has to have health insurance or risk major financial disaster. Even so, many people with insurance are wiped out by uncovered medical expenses. The cost of healthcare in this nation is out of control and affects everything from auto insurance to Medicare & Medicaid. It’s not that we don’t have enough dollars in the pool. The problem is that there is never enough dollars in the pool. The more there is, the more it takes, the more is taken.
Our country’s current solution is a form of universal health care. This is a short-term fix that will bring monies into the healthcare pool by mandating that all people get insurance. The young people who typically don’t buy health insurance or use healthcare services are forced to contribute to the pool. However, there’s not enough new young people’s dollars to outpace the veracious appetite of medical care. The hope is that the increases in insurance premiums, cuts to services, and boards to determine medical necessity and feasibility of a service will slow down the consumption of the pool dollars. Already though, hospitals are being closed and “cash-poor governments are ditching public hospitals”. I’m not sure that the cure for the ills of socialized medicine is more socialized medicine. It’s pouring good money after bad money. This cure looks worse than the disease.
As many predicted in the early days of health insurance, we are headed for full socialized medicine. Further, we’re likely headed for the same socialized medical mess as we see in other parts of the world. With mandatory health care, we’ll all be in the same leaky boat…except for the thousands who are exempted for political reasons.
I’ve always cringed at the sight of patients conducting bake sales, raffles, and other fund raising activities so a person can have a medical procedure performed. For too long, medical fees have artificially outpaced the wages of society. I don’t begrudge a doctor making a good wage but doctors should have shown some restraint in the face of all the pooled dollars they were swimming in. Their money aggression, also known as greed, set us on the perpetual cycle of finding enough dollars to pay medical fees which continue to grossly surpass the free market’s ability to pay. As long as this is the economic model, we’re in for a rough ride.
Do you want to see an example of what the Bible calls the weeping and gnashing of teeth? Then I suggest that as soon as the economy stabilizes that we do away with health insurance. It would cause a financial crash in everything associated with medicine. All those who have been lavishly living off the medical dollar, from suppliers to doctors, would be forced down into free market prices. Doctors would quit and there would be an extreme doctor shortage until the system recovered and people went into medicine for greater humanitarian reasons…those who would be willing to make a good living based on the free market system. Of course, as I previously said, nothing like that will ever happen. So, it’s onward with a system that depends on the pooling of dollars and allows medical costs to outpace the wages of its citizens. Consequently, the medical establishment which brought us this mess won’t experience the weeping and gnashing of teeth. Instead, our weeping and our gnashing has just begun. Just wait until this socialized conglomeration plays itself out.
In my days as a chiropractic physician, there were only a small percentage of insurance companies that covered chiropractic care. Fees were based on the cash-paying patient. Over the years, as with podiatrists and dentists too, that has changed greatly…and so have their fees and their associated overhead costs. While the free market system keeps the greedy from exploiting the masses, socialized greed exploits everyone.
"Yes, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, each seek his own gain." Isaiah 56:11