Thank God For Relatively Free-Market Medicine
With Joe Biden set to take over, we’re going to get a renewal of the healthcare debate during the Obama years. Senate candidate Rev. Raphael Warnock has made healthcare a central part of his runoff campaign against Sen. Kelly Loeffler as well.
We’re going to see healthcare come up again.
Disturbingly, there are also those out there who think the answer to our prayers lies in single-payer healthcare.
Right now, all of this is near and dear to my heart because of my wife. You see, right now, she’s resting in a hospital bed. Because I’m self-employed, we don’t have health insurance, either.
My loving wife was having some pain and went to the emergency room about 2:00 Friday morning. After a number of tests, the indications were that it was her gall bladder. No big deal. They wheeled her into surgery a short time later and found out the problem was much, much more severe.
It could have been fatal, actually.
They went ahead and fixed it. Now, she’s recovering. It’s painful, but she’s recovering.
On my way home from the hospital last night, I couldn’t help but think about the debate over healthcare yet again. As I said, we know it’s coming.
Some would believe that considering the bill we’re going to be faced with that it would change my mind about all kinds of things. It doesn’t though. Yes, we’re going to have some serious debt moving forward, but I’d much rather have that than some of the alternatives.
See, I don’t blame the bill on the fact that the insurance companies aren’t even more regulated than they currently are. Quite the contrary.
I blame FDR.
It was his administration that froze wages. Because they were frozen, employers had to find new ways to attract employees, so they started adding benefit packages. That included insurance.
Because people began to be divorced from the cost of their medical decisions. As a result, medical costs began to skyrocket.
We’re just dealing with the fallout from my grandparents’ generation.
“But single-payer would mean there wouldn’t be any bill,” someone might say. Of course, with single-payer, my wife would be dead.
Take the UK, for example. The average wait time for gall bladder surgery in the UK was about 90 days in 2015. That was too long to wait for what was actually wrong with my wife. She wouldn’t have held on for that long, most likely.
In other words, single-payer would have turned me into a single father.
And that’s just one of a thousand reasons to tread carefully into the healthcare debate. For better or worse, it really is about people’s lives.
Yet it was a relatively free-market system of healthcare that allowed doctors to operate almost immediately, then find that the issue was something completely different and adjust. It was that free-market system that allowed the doctors to save my wife’s life.
Now, I don’t necessarily think people who want single-payer are evil. I believe the vast majority are horribly misguided. They want something they consider essential and they want it for free.
To be sure, most of us do see healthcare as essential to some degree. However, those of us who oppose any single-payer scheme aren’t monsters for that opposition. We recognize the realities of such a system.
Once something becomes free, becomes a “right,” then people will begin to make use of it for every ache and pain. They’re not going to have to pay for it, even a co-pay, so why not?
More correctly, in many cases, they’ll figure they’ve already paid for it, so they might as well get their money’s worth. After all, single-payer healthcare isn’t paid for by insurance premiums but by tax dollars.
Because of this massive influx of new patients, the system begins to bog down. People don’t try to take care of any issues on their own. They just go to the doctor or hospital and expect treatment as is their “right.”
With that system bogged down, there’s only so much you can do to speed it up. Delays for routine but non-life-threatening surgeries pop up. Longer and longer you have to wait.
And then, some people die because while the surgery they were waiting for wasn’t a life-threatening situation, the doctors would only have been able to tell that the real problem was something else once they started operating.
People like my wife.
Now, this is hardly the only issue with single-payer healthcare. Entire books could be written about the subject and I’m not remotely qualified to delve into all of them by any stretch. Nor, frankly, do I want to be.
However, it doesn’t take much to see just how bad an idea it would be for a whole lot of people.
Frankly, I’m glad the doctors didn’t have to wait months to get my wife into an operating room only to find out that the real problem was something that didn’t show up on the tests they ran, but was a far, far bigger problem.
It’ll still be a little while before my wife is home and resting, and all this right before Christmas, but seeing as she’s alive, I’ll take what I can get.