Saturday, October 27, 2007

My Thoughts on Medicine

There is a lot of discussion about our nation's "need" for a nationalized medical system. Now I certainly disagree with that idea and seeing the failures of Canada's and Britain's systems I feel justified in being very skeptical of socialized medicine in America.

However we do need to make some changes.

Part of the problem is that when it's through the government people tend to believe it's free (when fact it isn't) so people go hog-wild and get everything they can (which also explains why insurance premiums are beyond the reach of so many people.). You could control that through rationing but that would not work either as one serious and legitimate problem could cost more than dozens of small bogus problems.

Part of what I think we need to do is break the medical requirements down into several subsections and deal with each one separately.

1) Routine Medical Care: Physicals, minor illnesses, vaccinations, and over the counter drugs. These people should pay out of their own pockets, so far as they are able. The best way to deal with this might be a tax credit for all expenditures over a certain percentage of your income (say over half a percent or one percent of your annual income.). Doctors doing charity work and free clinics could also help.

2) Emergencies. This should be handled as an insurance with state or private charity helping those who cannot afford it.

3) Chronic Problems and 4) Catastrophic Problems. These are the two budget killers. Most people don't have catastrophic problems so again it can be handled through insurances.

Chronic problems is what I have no idea about. Some are relatively inexpensive but there are diseases whose medical bill can be many, many dollars a day for life. We could limit the profits of drug companies but all that would accomplish is squanching research as the profit motive seems to be the best motivator for new drugs. This is a hard one and I don't see a solution to it.

If we let the government simply take over, the results would be that people would use more and more of it (cuz it's free!) while the costs would go higher and higher (as the bureaucrats rake in their cut) but because Doctors and Nurses would make less and less, fewer and fewer would enter those professions resulting in the same mess they have in Canada and Britain where people die waiting for a doctor for routine medical care.

We need an answer and the first step is to somehow contain costs.

UPDATE: 10/28 Check out the roaring success of Britain's nationalized health plan.

Michael Moore!? Where are you!? Comments please?


Anonymous Seth said...

Not to mention that once the Gov't takes over, we'll be assured of voluminous bureaucracies that will

a)turn healthcare into a disaster,

b)milk the taxpayer to the point of the necessity to raise taxes by significant degrees, and

c)victimize young adults by taxing them heavily for issues that won't concern most of them for two or three decades.

...While the increased taxation does its bit to inspire another recession.

3:52 AM  
Blogger Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

Routine Medical Care can be handled with HSAs (Healthcare Savings Accounts into which you can put $2,895 tax free.) I use an HSA for dentists, OTCs and co-pays.

Emergencies for folks who can't pay are already covered by the Feds, states and counties under numerous acts.

Catastrophic coverage is what insurance should be all about. You don't claim on your car insurance for oil changes but for crashes and other catastrophes.

Chronic. Diabetes and AIDS and other long-term illnesses. Oops - your a lemon. Better luck next time. This is where charity could help.

People need to pay for insurance themselves not employers. When someone else pays there's no accountability.

4:13 AM  
Blogger Gayle said...

Hillary is trying to disguise her plan for socializing medicine by saying it's not the same plan as the one she tried to pass off on us when she was First Lady. If she get's into the WH in 08 (GAG!) we will find out that it's every bit as bad as the first plan, and that it stinks to high heaven. Let's hope the majority of American people are bright enough to understand exactly what socialized medicine will really be. Anyone who truly believes anything the government does is "free" is out to lunch!

1:18 PM  
Blogger shoprat said...

my only total disagreement is the cold shoulder to the chronic problems. While I have no problem saying "tough luck" to those who brought it on themselves with their lifestyles, many get these diseases through no fault of their own.

seth it will create more problems than it solves, that's for certain

gayle Hillary is being dishonest about many things.

6:35 PM  
Blogger ChrisA said...

"While I have no problem saying "tough luck" to those who brought it on themselves with their lifestyles, many get these diseases through no fault of their own."

I couldn't agree more. It's one thing to say tough luck to a smoker who developed a known problem from smoking versus a diabetic. (And, no, not the 'I ate at McDonalds every day and have diabetes from obesity' type)

1:46 PM  
Anonymous pete in Midland said...

SR ... being that my diabetes was created by my lifestyle ... I tend to agree with pjc ... it is not societies "fault" that I have a sweet tooth, or that I let myself get 30 pounds overweight.

Personally, being quite familiar with the Canadian system and it's rampant abuse, I'm firmly in the camp that your health is your problem. The government should not be involved at all ... since that's what drives the prices up-and-up-and-up ... all these laws and dictats about who gets free coverage. This SCHIP thing, for example, is the foot in the door for total government control of your life.
Where in the Constitution does it say anything about guaranteed health care?

As far as the high cost of drugs, etc ... get the damned government out of the picture and watch how dramatically the price comes down. Just as with the incredibly high cost of education, the cost of health care is driven by the incredibly large amount of taxpayer money pumped into the system ... and business knows that government money means they can jack up the prices at will. (because the less-weel-off will whine and the democraps will come up with another wealth transfer scheme)
It won't be fixed in my life time ... but it will either soon collapse just as the SS system will ... or the federal government will have to return to doing what the constitution allows it to do (damn little!)

1:49 PM  

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