And you thought American health care was inefficient because the free market doesn't work. News flash! US Health Care is hardly a free-market industry. Health care in the United States continues to gravitate further away from the free market. Subsequently, health care costs rise--while fewer and fewer people can afford to pay for even the insurance to protect against these costs.
The other day I went to the grocery store. Here's what happened.
I don't do the grocery shopping very often, so it surprised me to find out that my grocer had established a new policy. By edict of the federal government (I found out from the cashier as I got to the checkstand), there was not one price tag anywhere in the cereal aisle. I, however, love cereal, so I grabbed a couple of bags and a few boxes of the stuff, which would last us a week and allow us to add to our food storage.Okay, so the previous story didn't really happen (except for me seldom doing the shopping but loving to guess the final cost when I do). But such tales are the daily reality in the health care industry.
I'm a pretty good mathematician, so I always like to guess what the cost of our groceries will be. When the final tally rings up, I'm usually within a dollar or two. Imagine my surprise when my guess was off by over fifty dollars! "Holy cow!" I exclaimed to the cashier. "That can't be right." "Oh, it's right alright," she said as she handed me my receipt. "You bought cereal." I looked at the receipt but couldn't find anything to indicate why my guess had been so far off. But I did notice, based on the cashier's warning, that the costs for the boxes and bags of cereal were not to be found on that little slip of paper.
When I got home, my wife took one look at the cereal and asked sternly, "What in the world did you buy cereal for? Don't you know how expensive it is now? I send money to our friends in Mexico and they send me the same stuff for much cheaper."
Do you think the price of cereal would go up or down if no one knew what they were being charged for it?
...So do I.
Health care is no different in that respect.
In her book Who Killed Health Care? Regina Herzlinger explains the rationale that general hospitals have used to keep hidden the exorbitant charges they pass on to the consumer--and that Congress has bought...hook, line, and sinker.
In a blatant display of their self-serving agenda, the general hospitals convinced the U.S. Congress to ban further expansion of specialty hospitals.Non-profit general hospitals in the United States are often far from non-profit. One hospital described in Herzlinger's book made $567 million profit in one year--after paying out outrageous salaries to its executives.
...no one alleged that the specialty hospitals were bad for the consumer's health. No, instead, the general hospitals alleged that the specialty hospitals were bad for their health [read profits].
To achieve their goals, the general hospitals used another variant of the competition-is-killing-us argument. They alleged that the specialty hospitals are focusing only on high-profit procedures...[which is not true].
Who Killed Health Care? pages 80, 81, 82
Ironically, however, this particular health care problem is not simply with the general hospitals. It is with national lawmakers who have colluded with the health care providers. And true to form, prices have gone up.
Other countries, whose health systems are not so protected by their governments (no, not Candada) are making it financially feasible for Americans to travel overseas, stay for several days, and get better health care for much cheaper than they can receive in the bureaucratic nightmare that is becoming the US health care system.
Hopefully now, you can see that more government control of health care is not the solution to America's skyrocketing health care costs. In nearly every example where government has affected health care, government collusion has caused health care costs to increase. Ironically, one area where prices have actually gone down is in lasik eye surgery--because government has stayed largely out of this arena.
We don't need more socialism. We need less.
Put the prices back on my cereal!