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Issue #13 - free-enterprise or “socialized” medicine

There is a myth that the United States has the best system of health in the world. That may be true for high-end procedures. However, our public health system is falling behind that of other industrialized countries. In 1950, the United States ranked in the top five with respect to life expectancy. Today, we rank #49. On average, Americans live four years less than the Japanese even though the rate of smoking is higher in Japan. Health is declining especially among American women.

We boast of free enterprise as the engine of progress. This may not be the case in the health-care field. Think of it. If you give doctors freedom to make as much money as possible, some will do unnecessary procedures and prescribe unnecessary medications just to ding the insurance companies. And, there is really no “free market” when the buyer of the product, the health consumer, does not pay for the product but shifts the cost to an insurance company. There is no “free market” when the seller of the product, the doctor, is the one who makes the buying decisions.

President Obama’s “health care reform” reformed nothing. The legislation was reportedly written by health-industry lobbyists to force everyone into the expensive U.S. health-insurance pool. If you require insurance companies to cover persons with preexisting conditions, you take away one of their tools for increasing profits. Why not have government simply put everyone into a pool and end the private-sector games?

In this context, socialized medicine looks good. Doctors would be on salary. There would be no incentive for them than to do other than what seems best for the patient. Maybe government should provide free health care to everyone with respect to health examinations and simple procedures and let the private sector supplement this service with respect to the more expensive types of treatment. Introduce competition between private-sector and government-run health care and watch costs come down.

(This is an area where we have differences with conservative Republicans.)

 

See also:

A proposal for Socialized Medicine

 

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