About the Health Care Mess

I read this piece by John Stossel from the New York Sun in the 9/29/08 issue of Forbes Magazine.

“Imagine if your car insurance covered oil changes and gasoline. You wouldn’t care how much gas you used, and you wouldn’t care what it cost. Mechanics would sell you $100 oil changes. Prices would skyrocket. That’s how it works in health care. Patients don’t ask how much a test or treatment will cost. They ask if their insurance covers it. They don’t compare prices from different doctors and hospitals. Prices do vary. Why should they? They’re not paying. Although they do in hidden, indirect ways.

“In the end, we all pay more because no one seems to pay anything. It’s why health insurance is not a good idea for anything but serious illnesses and accidents that could bankrupt you. For the rest, we should pay out of our savings.”

A problem can never be fixed until it is defined, and I think Stossel has just put his finger on it.

Just because we can do something (like perform a hip replacement on an 87-year-old woman dying of stomach cancer) doesn’t mean we should.

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1 Comment

Filed under politics

One response to “About the Health Care Mess

  1. capncrusty

    I believe that latter statement is what’s called a reductio ad absurdum argument: “universal, single-payer health care should not become a reality in the US because it will be abused beyond our ability to pay for it”. The problem with that notion is that abuse would likely apply in only a tiny minority of cases, and is frankly about as salient to this issue as the oft-repeated line that Canadians are flocking to the US to get health care because their own system is so bad….even though poll after poll shows that overall our neighbors to the north would never trade their system for that of the US.

    Long story short: every civilized nation has socialized medicine (there, I said the dreaded word), and they have lower infant mortality and longer, more healthy lifespans than the US. And if they are facing raging economic meltdown and hyper-inflation, it’s not because they care for all their citizens, but mostly due to the huge effect the crumbling laissez-faire American economy is having on global markets as it rushes it’s unregulated way towards disaster.

    And here’s the delicious irony. Big business, faced with rising health insurance premiums for its workers, has been calling for socialized medicine (although not in those terms, of course) for some time now…and now, Wall Street bankers are BEGGING to be regulated. Who knows, someday maybe John Stossel will find himself out of work, and then even he might call for a little help from his country.

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