The health care crossroads
In the entry on atheism, Todd White wrote:
Our decades-long mix of socialism with freedom has brought us to a crossroads: Will we have socialism? Or will we have freedom? Because we are rapidly reaching a point where it will be impossible to have both.I agree with Mr. White. Regarding health care, I think the only solution, as hard as it may sound, is to go back to pay as you go for health care, getting rid of third party payers except for catastrophic coverage.
The third party private insurance payer system results in increases of costs, because it keeps increasing demand. When someone else is paying, both doctor and patient opt for more and more care, much of which may not be necessary. Why not? “Blue Cross / Blue Shield is paying for it,” doctor and patient chant in unison. Democrats, always having to find a demiurgic oppressor at the core of the universe, blame the price rise on evil greedy insurance companies, whereas in reality the price rise is a built-in result of having medical care paid for by someone other than the patient.
The other major factor in the steep increase in the cost of medical care is technical advances. Things like CAT scans cost money. Once they exist, everyone wants them. If everyone wants expensive treatment, the cost of medical care increases. And since everyone is having this expensive care paid for by insurance companies, the cost increases even more, until many people can’t afford medical insurance, which leads to the demand for nationalized health insurance.
The logic I’ve just laid out suggests that socialized medicine is an inevitable outcome of modern, technological society. Which would mean that the end result of civilization itself is the end of freedom, the transformation of mankind into passive, spiritless creatures of the state, as is the case throughout the entire Western world except in the U.S. But even if people see such socialism as desirable, it is no solution, because supply is not infinite and therefore universal access results in rationing. No sensible person, even if he has no objection to state control over everyone’s lives, can regard as desirable and successful a medical care system in which people must wait on line for months to get treatment, and every aspect of the relationship between doctor and patient is dictated by state regulations and state bureaucrats.
If we don’t accept this end, this end result of statism and rationing, this end result which is the inevitable outcome of such large forces that seem to be built into our society, then we must approach the problem of medical care on a more profound level than has been done so far. And on the deepest level, the problem is a spiritual one. Liberalism—and modern society which is its expression—is characterized by the demand for the equal satisfaction of human needs. The ever-greater technological capacity to diagnose and treat illnesses results in the demand that all humans have equal access to these ever more expensive treatments, a demand which drives up the cost ever more, leading inevitably to socialized medicine which reduces doctors and patients to cogs in a machine and forces people to wait for months for treatment. What drives this process is human desire and demand increasing and increasing and increasing until they run up against the limits of a universe in which supply is limited. The only solution, then, is to reduce our desire and demand. If we expect maximum possible physical care for every possible physical ailment we MUST end up living under socialism. There is NO escape from this logic except to reduce our desires and our demands. If we want to be free, we cannot have everything we want.
Again, the problem is built into modern society. Modern science leads man to believe that he is nothing but matter. Modern technology leads man to believe that the ills of this material being which he believes he is can all be treated by material means. And modern liberalism leads man to believe that all humans must have equal access to such technology, equal satisfaction of their desire for every possible medical treatment, and equal satisfaction of their desire to live as long as possible. The solution—the only possible solution—is to break with this modern materialistic and egalitarian consciousness.
Todd White writes:
Yes, I think that’s the only solution too. Health insurance should work more like car insurance. When you fill up your gas tank or replace your tires, you don’t use your car insurance; it’s only when you get in an accident that your insurance company pays.Todd White continues:
Your essay is excellent. You wrote, “If we want to be free, we cannot have everything we want.” Precisely. In health care—as in life—priorities must be established and choices must be made. That’s what being an adult is all about. Liberalism—by denying the most elementary facts of existence—reduces the proud American patriot to a docile infant, dependent on the good graces of the nanny state. Sadly, that might be fine with a majority of Americans these days. But it’s unacceptable to the rest of us. And since we pay nearly all of the taxes, we’ll have a say one way or another.Paul Nachman writes:
Your long comment about health care is a good statement. You’ve zeroed in on the heart of the problem: the third-party-payer regime. (Of course it’s only apparently third-party payer, since we’re all on the hook for the tab, at least collectively.)Rich U. writes:
LA wrote:Rick U. continues:
One further thought in this issue is the modern liberal’s false belief in an equality of outcomes in medicine where these advanced treatments are always expected to work and produce the same results for everyone. When the outcomes differ merely by circumstance; the liberal mindset invents a “bogeyman” who must be punished by the courts or the system. They create laws which give legal standing to “victims” of the failed treatment at the expense of the medical suppliers whether they be doctors, insurance companies, or what have you. In the end, this leaves the medical care suppliers with no choice except to buy expensive malpractice insurance as they try to provide care in the government imposed game of “chicken” between trial lawyers and doctors.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at December 20, 2009 10:09 PM | Send