The latest health care proposals by the Biden administration may be the nail in the coffin of independent health care in this country. It looks as if we’re about to have socialized medicine forced down our throats, whether we like it or not.
American health care is not about sick patients and their interactions with doctors and hospitals. Far from it. It is about power and money, with two of the four major players who currently split the loot rapidly losing their future place at the table. The major player, the Democratically run federal government and its entitlement programs, will soon be expanding control from 60% to 95% of our health care. Insurance companies that are funded as an employment benefit will no longer exist with the federal takeover. Neither will the health care conglomerates with their hospitals and employee physicians. Unsurprisingly, the medical malpractice edifice will continue to thrive.
Health care has been used by both political parties in their struggle for votes. But the Republicans have apparently ceded the issue to the Democrats, no one brave enough to fight a government takeover for fear of being labelled non-caring. The Republicans have agreed with the Democrats that we are just too stupid to understand things like health care savings accounts. They are too cowed by politics to propose legislation that could encourage purchase of insurance across state lines. It is apparently too much for them to allow insurance pooling of high-risk individuals. With most of the lawmakers being lawyers, tort reform is not happening. Sensible ways to bring down costs and allowing us to make informed decisions are just too complicated for us dumb yokels.
When the Democrats take over health care, insurance companies could exist only as a middleman in the government Ponzi scheme. There is no reason to have insurance if pre-existing conditions are not a factor. Actuaries, those employed by insurance companies to balance risk and profit, will not be necessary. In their place, the government will just have an open pocketbook, printing increasingly worthless money to pay for service while relying on bureaucratic inefficiencies to provide a barrier between patients and their doctors. Less access means less cost. Just ask the National Health Service in Great Britain.
. . .
Since 11% of American workers are employed in the health care sector, 24% of government spending goes toward health care, 8.1% of consumer spending is for medical care, and 26% of non-wage compensation is for health care insurance, it could be argued that this is the most consequential part of the economy.
There’s more at the link.
The real problem with socialized medicine is that it’s predicated on how much government can afford to spend for it. In every single country where it’s been implemented, one can see a very clear progression of priorities. Because each health care dollar has to be stretched as far as possible, a philosophy of “the greatest good to the greatest number” has to be applied. Areas that are low-cost-per-individual are prioritized. In South Africa, for example, after the end of apartheid, it became a priority to bring primary health care to as many of the formerly under-served black population as possible. I have no problem with that – but to fund it, secondary and tertiary health care (more complex surgeries, cancer treatments, etc.) was starved of funding. A nation that had performed the world’s first heart transplant is now substantially below average as far as publicly funded advanced health services are concerned. It has a private health care sector that offers the most advanced treatments, but they’re so expensive that relatively few people can afford them.
Around the world, public health systems face the same dilemma. Areas of medicine that are high-cost-per-individual find that there isn’t enough money available for them. See, for example, the “Liverpool Care Pathway for the dying patient” in the UK, which focused on ending the lives of those patients as expeditiously as possible rather than treating their diseases. See, too, the emphasis on providing euthanasia “services” in several countries (including unsubtle encouragement to use them – see, for example, this recent experience from Canada), or even the involuntary, forced “euthanasia” of some patients (which should more accurately be described as murder). In every case, I doubt very much that the emphasis is on the needs and desires of the patient. Instead, it’s on costing the state-subsidized medical services as little as possible. A dead patient (particularly an older patient, who will likely cost more to treat than a younger person) is a lot less expensive than a live one!
I fear that we’re going to see more and more of that in the USA, as government seeks to hold down its soaring health care costs. As I get older, particularly because I don’t have enough money to be independent of some form of insurance for health care, that’s not a comforting thought!