Health Care Reform: Part 2

The other side of the coin: As stated in my previous post, I think what we have now needs some fixing. However, I’m not at all convinced that government-run health care is the answer. As a recipient of government-run health care for all my adult life, I appreciate the price, but it’s not the best service you can receive. Not to badmouth military health care at all, just acknowledging the limits of what they can do given their budgets, regulatory constraints, etc. And I believe the military does a much better job running their health care than any other government agency would–DoD is strongly incentivized to take good care of their most valuable resource (servicemembers), and the people in military treatment facilities take a great deal of pride in honoring our retirees’ service by treating them well. I don’t thing you’re going to get that same kind of service from the Federal Health Care Bureaucracy, whose charter would be to take care of Joe SixPack. I don’t think there’s too many good examples of socialized medicine providing better care than what we have in the US today for the majority of people.

I also don’t believe the government can be more efficent at running a business than the private sector. I’m not saying that the market should be allowed to resolve this itself. A pure market will achieve maximum efficiency, but it’s ruthless, and health care is not the place for ruthless. Also, what we have today is far from a pure market. There’s already a lot of government regulation, insurance expense, welfare programs, etc, that keep the market from resolving this issue itself. But I think this is not an instance where the government needs to take over the operation. That makes sense for certain services (national defense, interstate commerce, primary education, fire protection, etc). I think a strong argument can be made that medical care doesn’t fit that the criteria to justify government operation.

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Let’s talk about Health Care Reform! Yaay! :)

OK, I’m really frustrated on this one. I’m torn in different directions.

On the one hand, The system’s not working well. Costs are out of control; and it’s a death-spiral. A lot of people can’t afford quality health care, so they go without. And they continue to go without until their health deteriorates to the point they have to do something about it. Then they’re often forced to destroy their finances, or take advantage of treatment policies that say that hospitals can’t turn away critically ill, or rely on government programs. It’s demoralizing, depressing, and it’s destroying lives, physically and emotionally. It’s also a drag on our economy. Preventative health care, like preventative car maintenance, is much cheaper than catastrophic treatment. And ultimately others pick up the cost of that catastrophic treatment for those who can’t afford their own care.

This one is kinda personal. I’ve got a very close friend who’s battling for his life. He DOES have insurance, but his out of pocket expenses are still bankrupting him. And he’s too proud to take help from others, so he’s probably going to take himself off the transplant list. His reasoning? He can’t afford the debt himself, and if he keeps working till he dies, his employer-paid life insurance will take care of his current debt load, instead of burdening his family even further to get the life-saving operation. Not at all rational, but it shows what this kind of long-term stress can do to an intelligent human being.

Our nation should be able to provide better health care to our citizens (note I said “nation”, not necessarily “government”).