Sunday, May 11, 2008

John Torinus on Health Care

Friends and relations,

Our good friend John Torinus loves all things consumer driven. I suspect this is largely the result of cost savings to his bottom line -- the sole relevant measure of success for corporate executives who sink and swim inside the Milton-Friedman-goldfish-bowl version of reality -- and the fact that he's able to afford any health care he likes.

By contrast, those of us caught in the rip tide of our employee benefits -- even excellent benefits, like the ones I share with our elected officials -- don't have the option of choosing our own doctors or buying whatever medicine the doctor recommends. So I'm a little less sanguine about corporations, or their CEO's, deciding what's best for me.

Admittedly, the US Health care system is a mess, but making it more difficult for people to get health care by increasing their deductibles, say, doesn't make them... well, healthier. In fact, things can only get worse when we let CEO's and MBA's decide when our health care is "good." CEO's and MBA's are concerned with profit, not with my health.

The bottom line obviously must be met, but we can do so in a way that will insure both cost-effectiveness and good social health; we can do it the same way every other industrialized modern nation in the world does it. We take the decision out of the hands of people who measure national health by mere profit and, instead, measure it by... well, by health.

John's argument goes off the rails when he takes a swipe at the Democrats.
JS Online: Time to turn health care pricing on its head:

By the way, Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton, most health care systems and health insurance organizations in Wisconsin, all big employers, have installed consumer-driven plans. Does it tell you anything that the experts on the ground have gone the opposite direction from the top-down, bureaucratic proposals you have been making?

Both Democratic presidential contenders have opted for government run or mandated systems that duck the subject of runaway costs and poor value, the essence of the health care problem. They trust government fixes, not the people as consumers."
It's worth noting that the "experts on the ground" in every other modern nation on earth have done exactly what the Democrats are suggesting -- not what corporate executives in the US think is best.

It is well understood in every other country on earth that corporate executives are interested in corporate health, not in the health of citizens. Corporations are interested, as always, in consumers, not in citizens.

Anyway, that's my usual ideological rant. The facts are simpler and more compelling.

The essence of the health care problem, those "runaway costs," as John well knows, can be tracked back directly to the profit-motivated waltz of insurance companies, physicians, and hospital administrators -- not to the government and surely not to the employees who can barely afford their premiums as it is.

"The market" isn't the solution to this question any more than it was the solution to industrial pollution. Like other commonly held needs, health care too is subject to a tragedy of the commons and, once the solutions to this tragedy are applied to health care in the US -- as they were to our shared water and air -- health care will be made more available and cheaper for Americans: even for those of us who are mere employees.


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