Sunday, June 14, 2009

The true cost of "Free Heath Care"

Free health care, who could be against that? Most everyone who has lived under a government controlled heath care system, and that is just for starters.

In the upcoming battle, and it will be a battle, over the "single payer" or "the government option" health care debate, I would like readers to try to use a little logic and reason when they listen to the debate.

The proponents of the government option would like you to believe that in this new system, everyone is covered, no matter who they are, everyone receives our current standard of health care, and "the government" pays for everything, free of charge. This is a fantasy, plain and simple.

I always ask the people who favor these nationalized health care plans to point out where this system is currently working well; they say either Canada or some European nation. It is at this point, the debate is over. They just lost the health care debate, and lost badly.

I could point you to endless studies and testimonials about the real, everyday, life ending and crippling results from these systems, or you could just ask any of the Canadians who travel to America to receive life saving procedures or medicines because they will die waiting for them under a single payer system. It is not that the goal behind the system is flawed, free health care would be great, the problem lies where the idealistic rhetoric collides with the real world. No matter who is paying the bill, the law of supply and demand still drives any health care system.

If everything is free, why not use as much of it as you can? If you make terrible lifestyle choices, smoking, obesity, drug or alcohol abuse, and you receive the same free health care as a person who makes healthy lifestyle choices, what incentives do you have to save the system money by becoming healthier? If the government decides how much money a doctor is "entitled to make", how many people will saddle themselves with hundreds of thousands of dollars of medical school debt to become a government employee? How many drug companies will invest billions of dollars in research and development trials for new, life saving drugs if the government will decide how much profit is "fair"? This is called rationed heath care; it is the how any government controlled heath care works.

In rationed care, if twenty three thousand people are on the waiting list for, let’s say a heart valve replacement, and the government has eleven thousand heart valve replacement surgeries budgeted, the decision as to who receives this life saving treatment is taken from your doctor and given to the person paying the bills. A government worker goes through the list using a government approved actuarial table, and decides who gets the surgery and who gets put back on the waiting list, or worse, who is denied outright because of age or some other factor. Its the same for chemotherapy or life saving medicines. If you think dealing with a private insurance carrier is bad, wait until you deal with a government bureaucracy that has no competition and no accountability.

The government, or any private insurer for that matter, cannot provide unlimited health care to everyone without charging a premium for services, or rationing these "free" services. Anyone who tells you different is lying to you. When you demand real-world details from the government option lobbyist, they will give some vague talking points about a hybrid system that keeps what works and replaces what does not.

It sounds great, but so does a 400 horse power Corvette that runs on coffee grounds and costs $400. The devil is in the details.

You say our current system is broken, I agree. You say health care is too expensive, I agree. You say that the government is going to fix it; this is where you and I part company.

1 comment:

Ayatollah Mugsy said...

I won't argue your points, but there are plenty of horror stories of people being denied coverage under private health insurance, as well. I've read too many times about life-saving procedures finally being approved ... an hour after the patient died.

One goal of any health-care reform should be to prevent such incidents and stop making human lives secondary to money. Like you, I have my doubts that the politicians can get it done.