Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A Response to a Popular Facebook gif

Some friends of mine on facebook were discussing this picture today. Rather than get into a long comment discussion, I figured, hey, I have a blog! So here we go.

This is a good example of the free-market healthcare plan. In a nutshell, it's really a two step solution. Step 1: Live Responsibly. Step 2: Don't ever have any unexpected medical issues. No cancer, no car accidents, no miscarriages, no slips or falls, etc.

I think in a functioning society everyone needs to step up and do their part. But this only goes so far. We also need to step in and take care of each other once in awhile. You see good-hearted people doing this all the time in neighborhoods and churches around the country.

I don't know how you go about making it fair. Seems like now the punishment for unhealthy people is a slow death and an uncomfortable life, with the occasional free emergency room visit.

I don't know how we could have a more market-oriented coercive theory everyone should be healthier because no one wants to live poor, die young and get fat. And yet here we are. Meanwhile, comparable world examples with socialized medicine tend to have healthier people at a lower cost, with an equal amount of basic freedom and economic mobility. I'm thinking of the UK or Germany. Both have two vastly different forms of universal coverage and I highly doubt that anyone in either country feels any less "free" than we do in the US.

I'd prefer to shift to a system where prices are more predictable. The math there generally works out to either a) a single-payer, government sponsored solution, or b) a highly-regulated, highly-accountable privately run system. Right now we have a half-cocked private system with not nearly enough regulation on price controls. Providers and insurance companies can essentially charge us whatever they want to charge us. The consumer and the producer don't have equal amounts of control on the supply/demand curve.

The extent to which we as consumers can actually affect our costs will have to involve massive amounts of people simply leaving the system and following the attached .gif (or just dying).

Whatever the solution really is, it's to the benefit of those with the economic power to have us consumers separated, squabbling down here about causes, when we could very likely get to a solution if we did the research, found the best fix, and stuck to our guns until it was in place.

Blaming the chronically ill for our rising healthcare costs and then just throwing your hands up when the bill comes....something about this approach hasn't worked for us for the past 50 years.