Applying Capitalism to Health Care

Our health care system could benefit by applying capitalism to it.  Here are some ideas: 

– Leave the government out of it, and drive costs down through free enterprise. 

– Do not force small businesses to provide health insurance.  This will only drive costs up on the goods and services that they provide. 

– Have the patient shoulder some of the cost for expensive tests and surgical procedures that doctors perform, many of which are unnecessary. 

– Do not insist that all coverage be identical for everyone.  Being able to afford certain things has always been a problem for most people.  Those who cannot afford medical treatment or health insurance can often go to a free (county, etc.) hospital for care, even though they may have to stand in line. 

– Start paying doctors and surgeons less.  We need to recruit medical students who are more concerned with good health than with money.  We should try to get some younger doctors who are willing to squeak by on only a few hundred thousand dollars per year. 

Most of our problems with our health care system are due to the outrageous costs.  Health care reform doesn’t need to force employers to provide health insurance; and it doesn’t need to dictate identical coverage for everyone; and, it doesn’t need to restrict certain care for the elderly.  Health care reform simply needs to address the ever-increasing costs of health care, with less influence from insurance companies and the federal government, and more empowerment to the patients.

5 Responses to “Applying Capitalism to Health Care”

  1. Steve says:

    I agree with everything….almost. I’m just not sure about paying the doctors less. Here’s my reasoning:

    The brain surgeon who removed my son’s brain tumor no doubt makes more than several thousand dollars a year. (In my mind, he’s actually worth his weight in gold at least…even at today’s gold prices.)

    Like it or not…for what ever reason (even “greed”….see an above post) I believe big money insures the best of the best will be there performing. Sure, having a good heart is a big help, but I feel the money helps make sure we have the best people in those specialized areas.

    Right or wrong, big money is what attracts those above quality people to offer services in those select fields. I am afraid if my son’s brain surgeon was limited, he may have chosen another career. Left to fill his position would be someone without the qualities required to fill those lucrative positions.

    It may not be politically correct now days, but I do feel money is a reliable filter for guaranteeing we have the best of the best in those areas.

  2. admin says:

    Steve, obviously you make a good point. I haven’t been in your shoes, and if I had, I too would have preferred to have the best doctor, and to pay him whatever he charged, even out of my own pocket.

    My daughter had back surgery for scoliosis, and the surgeons placed a 14″ metal rod in her back, next to her spinal cord, so this was a high-risk operation. Three weeks later we discovered that the rod had come loose and the surgery had to be repeated. Thankfully, the second surgery was successful, and sometime later I was included in a meeting to debrief all that had happened. I told those involved that I would have given everything that I owned (although I’m sure this was less than the surgeon’s fee for even the botched operation) if it would have prevented the need for that second surgery which, ideally, should have been unnecessary.

    One of the reasons that make health care a difficult topic is the emotional impact on those involved. If we view health care from a 50,000-foot level, like our Congressmen, it’s easy to make broad-sweeping decisions on such important issues as which group should be denied health care for certain (usually financial) reasons. However, if it’s a particular case concerning someone that we love, it’s probably impossible for us to separate our emotions from our decision-making processes.

    I believe that we have similar feelings about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Commander-in-Chief might well feel justified in sending 200,000 men and women into battle, at the cost of 4,000 of their lives and 20,000 serious injuries. Yet, if one of them is my own son or daughter, then I might take pause at the President’s reasoning.

    In terms of national health care policy, the decisions are indeed usually made for financial reasons. This reminds me of the comments in my post, How Much is a Human Life Worth?. Obviously, to me, the lives of my son and my daughter are priceless, but unfortunately there’s only a finite amount of money available–an ugly truth about any economic system.

    I’m just wondering whether or not the brain surgeon or the back surgeon (for the botched operation mentioned above) really need to make as money as they do, or if this might be among the many possible line items where we could all chip in to do our part in trimming the high costs of health care. For example, if a surgeon makes $50K per operation (and performs 150 such operations per year), I wonder if he could get by on only, say, $48K for some of those operations; i.e., Would bright young prospects for medical school really turn to another profession if they thought that they would only be making $7.2M per year instead of $7.5M (several times his weight in gold)? If so, then I must question whether they will always do their best for the welfare of their patients, or only for their own pockebooks.

    I believe that for each person, along with our emotions, our individual experiences influence our opinions on these difficult topics. As noted in my post Is Our Health Care System Really That Good?, I’ve seen and had more negative experiences with doctors than positive ones. If I step back from the situation, and am able to remove the emotion factor (a big “if”), maybe I’ll come down on your side of the fence.

  3. Steve says:

    The big problem I see with imposing a small limit as you suggest is that we all know when the government is allowed down that road, there’s no stopping it (just look at the original income tax compared to where it is now)…..your 7.2 million a year number would be 6.8 next year….then 6.2….and so on.

    Remember that the medical profession has attracted some of the best of our best. Right or wrong, the big money they can make has played a big part in that attraction.

    For many, the medical profession has been a vehicle to achieve a certain lifestyle. Those high achievers who have the intelligence and ability to reach those positions are exactly the ones we want there.

    How about this….

    Let’s take the government and all the rules out of it and just let the market decide what is fair. Imagine if the government didn’t protect the trial lawyers from filing frivolous suits. Imagine if the government didn’t impose the mountains of red tape doctors and hospitals deal with…and this list goes on.

    The amount of money doctors make is but a tiny fraction of the overall problem of high costs.

  4. admin says:

    I agree. Keep the government out of it. The government has gone way too far on its red tape, and it shouldn’t impose income limitations on anyone. Free enterprise should impose limitations by having you and I refuse to be charged so much, especially just because we think it’s our insurance company’s problem, and not ours. I think that we could decrease the demand by stopping our practice of running to the doctor every time we get a headache. This would drive prices down simply by the principles of supply and demand. On the other hand, if doctor’s aren’t making enough money, then free enterprise should serve to drive up their salaries as well.

    I’m not convinced that the medical profession has attracted some of the best of our best. If so, I could also argue that it has attacted some of the richests of our rich, and some of the worst of our worst (especially when they put their greed above the interests of the health of their patients).

    I also don’t understand why we attribute doctors with possessing more intelligence than others. Too many times I’ve had doctors answer my questions by saying, “Well, what do you think we should do?”

  5. Steve says:

    Yes, actually I think if we just got rid of low deductible insurance and co-pays for simple doctor visits, things would work much better.

    How about some co-insurance and personal responsibility for the simple stuff?

Leave a Reply