Saturday, March 27, 2010

Health care costs

Following an unrelated news article, some reader feeback are particularly interesting on the subject of health care, so I thought to quote a few:

"Libertarians believe that free markets are always the best way to provide the most for the most. I agree this is still true, but this only works when the buyer is in charge. When the seller is in charge, which is the case of health care, banking, and the international corporations, then so called free markets are just monopolies, where the buyers are slaughtered. Health care is a monopoly - the supply of medical practioners is controlled, drugs are controlled, and health insurance are all controlled to effectively produce a monopoly. Ditto banking, ditto radio/TV etc. Why celebrate "free markets" that no longer exist.
--richard vajs"

"Food is vital for life. In most instances, one can live longer without medical care than without food. Yet the relatively free market in food, as burdened as it is with government interference, is delivering affordable goods. The free market clearly does not favor farmers and grocers over consumers and neither should it favor health care providers over consumers. That it does is a result of heavy government regulation and monopoly licensing laws whose real intention is not to protect the public but to limit supply for the benefit of the politically influential medical lobby.

All regulatory agencies are eventually captured by the industries they are meant to regulate for the benefit of the public. Those industries' coercive regulatory powers are then turned to fleecing the public and crippling competitors. Regulation has always been a godsend to established industries. They even beg to be regulated! Health care is no different. For example, the FDA exists not to protect the public from dangerous drugs but to protect the profits of Big Pharma from competition by nutrient supplements, herbs and holistic practitioners.

Since supplements and herbs cannot be patented, no one could afford to spend hundreds of millions of dollars jumping through the FDA's approval hoops. So, Big Pharma's chemists tinker with natural molecules in order to concoct a synthetic molecule which can be patented. With the FDA's connivance, the public is kept ignorant of the fact that inexpensive, safe and effective natural alternatives are available for almost all of Big Pharma's expensive and dangerous prescription drugs. How many people know that for only pennies a day, vitamin B3 (niacin) will not only reduce blood cholesterol levels but also clear arteries of cholesterol buildup. Compare that to surgery and expensive and dangerous statin drugs! The general population of developed countries suffers from severe vitamin D deficiency which has been traced to cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis and all kinds of infections. Widespread supplementation with vitamin D3, costing almost nothing, or better yet, exposure to free sunlight would result in the bankruptcy of most pharmaceutical companies and hospitals! Yet, under the regulatory powers of the FDA to "protect" the public, such truthful statements on bottles of vitamin D3 would result in the arrest and prosecution of anyone selling this "unapproved drug."

So, as should be evident, unavailable and obscenely expensive health care is not caused by the failure of free market capitalism. It is instead caused by the politicization of health care in order to protect powerful lobbies. Real capitalism would force a collapse in health care costs just as it is forcing a continuing collapse of the costs of computing.

The latest 2,400 pages of health care reform at gun point will do nothing to increase the supply and quality of health care. But its "free" provisions will increase the demand and consequently escalate costs. If government attempts to legislate prices downward thus producing further shortages, then this vital service will be rationed and the poor will once again suffer as those with money find a means to buy there way to the front of the queue."
-- MetaCynic

And, on the free market:

"Libertarians (like Milton & Rose Friedman) have their minds stuck in the days when "free enterprise capitalism" mean a guy can save a few bucks and buy a handcart and peddle vegetables in any city. How long would Kroger tolerate that? Try starting your own neighborhood bank? Find an open slot in the radio spectrum and start cranking out a free broadcast. Then tell me about free enterprise.

Ah, Walmart. I remember when Walmart first came to a town in the Florida panhandle that I lived in. The town built what amounted to free private roads, paved a parking lot and changed zoning to accomodate them. They provided jobs all right - while bankrupting every small merchant in town.

Let us forever ban the notion of "free enterprise" in this country; the operative phrase is "crony capitalism" and government granted monopoly."
--richard vajs

On healthcare, a mention of the German system, which happens to be the best model in the world, yet managed to be completely ignored by our "news" in the major presentations on the subject I've seen. The difference to me is that Doctors in Germany don't expect to get rich - just as I remember our family doctor so 50 years ago. It's about greed, of course, and capitalism thrives on greed, which can be argued ad naseum, but we're not even seeing what capitalism and the market can do, given health care industry influence in Washington. It's far more like some monopolies setting the rules then market forces battling it out.

I'm not a major fan of Wal Mart, but I like what I'm hearing about their prescription drug program.

"There is alive in Libertarianism, and evidenced by some of the responses here, a soulless penchant for holding free-market ideals to excruciating standards. In reality, there's no reason why healthcare should be catsup - a product we buy or do without. Here's the problem: No catsup? No tomato-based condiment for your fries. No heathcare? ...Die. There's no reason for civilized societies to allow their citizens' health to rest on the vagaries of "free enterprise" - which, in reality, is as unattainable a goal as "pure socialism". Government can't be based on ideology so sociopathic. Capitalism can't be human? Germany instituted universal health care in the 1880s, and for all the epic triumph and tragedy that nation has borne and birthed in 120 years, not once did catastrophe stem from its medical delivery system."
--San Fernando Curt


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