Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Joy of Free-Market Health Care

With the definite possibility that the US will adopt some form of socialized medicine in the next 4 years, I thought I would share some of the benefits of Free-Market Health Care.

First experience. Our children's doctor's practice was bought out last year by another group (which is wonderful that that can happen). We were fine with the new doctor that they assigned, she was good with the kids. However, we really didn't like their billing and scheduling system. They had separate accounts for each kid (so instead of sending one bill, we got 4 bills) and they wouldn't schedule visits more than 90 days in advance (why bother planning a yearly check-up). So ultimately we switched doctors. The whole process took about 10 minutes. We called up the new doctor and told them the kids would be seeing him now, and called the old doctor and told them we were switching. We didn't have to ask anyone's permission or fill out mounds of paperwork (other than the new form at the new doctors office). Moral of the story: The Free-Market requires doctors (and their office staff) to provide quality services or the people leave.

Second experience. My wife needed new hearing aides. Hearing aides aren't covered by health insurance (which is odd since they cover drug rehab, weight loss, and smoking cessation, all things that are in people's control). They cost about $3500 a pair. She went to three different places here in town and was given different sets to try out for two weeks. My guess is, if she had have tried all of the places in the surrounding 50 miles that sell hearing aides, she probably could have gone 4-6 months before ever paying for them. In the end she found a pair she likes, that comes with service and re-programming every six months and a complete refurbishment after 2 years (before the warranty runs out). Moral of the story: If you pay for it yourself (as oppose to an insurance company, or the government) you get more options, better service, and can find what you want (as well as need).

Third experience. My daughter has a cross eye that we wanted to get checked out. She had an appointment with the optometrist. He didn't know so recommended an opthamologist. We took her there the next week. They couldn't figure it out so they wanted her to have an MRI. We made an appointment for a couple weeks later and then found out that she needed a physical first. We made that appointment for a few days before the MRI. Then tragedy happened: we forgot the physical appointment.

OK, really no worries, they re-scheduled it for the next day. That was done, she had the MRI (which included anesthesia), then she had a follow-up appointment the next day. In total she had 5 doctor appointments within a 3 week period. This for something that was not an emergency nor life-threatening. Oh yeah, and the MRI people gave her a new backpack and some other goodies. Moral of the story: the Free-Market allows for effecient use of resources (note I didn't say most efficient), plus suppliers will try to entice (bribe) you to use there services.

Lets contrast these experiences with socialized (or single payer) medicine. For those in the states who keep touting its benefits, you need to live somewhere that they practice it. I lived in Canada for two years. The doctors went on strike while I was there (yes the doctors). People didn't find this unusual and I found out that it happens on a regular basis (every year or two). In fact everybody goes on strike there at some point (grocers, bus drivers, garbage men, postal workers, etc.). I made it a point never to use the Canadian health care system. I did go to see an optometrist to get new contacts. I paid cash and would you belief it, the contacts were made here in the United States.

With socialized medicine, you might be able to choose your doctor (if there are any taking new patients because of the shortage), but where is the doctor's incentive to give you good service? No where. They get paid the same no matter what. And with a shortage (which socialism inevitably leads to) replacing you as a patient is not a problem.

With socialized medicine, what options do you have? Only the ones that the government allows. While they say they care about us, do you really think they have our best interest in mind? If yes, then why is congress's approval rating around 15%?

How long would appointments take (for elective procedures) under socialized medicine? We have examples throughout the world for this. Canada, England, France, even Cuba. In all cases, there is no efficient use of resources (why should there be, there is no incentive to have efficient use of resources). Wait times can be months. Missing appointments can cause the process to start over again. MRIs would not be possible without the Free-Market (it would never have been invented), so even socialized medicine benefits from Free-Market inventions. And don't even ask for a free pen, let alone a backpack.

That being said, our insurance system in the US is not really Free-Market (I'll write about that another time). But it provides a level of care that is unprecedented in the world. So the next time your kid has an ear infection and you can get Amoxicillin within a day, be sure to thank the Free-Market (and stock up if you are a believer in socialized medicine).

No comments:

Post a Comment