December 12, 2017

Trading freedom for government-sponsored healthcare

This article makes a lot of sense. People make the best decisions and take responsibility for their actions when they are held accountable.

If your car breaks down or gets damaged, then you are responsible to get it fixed. That’s why people actually care about driving carefully and performing routine maintenance. Imagine a world where government paid for unlimited cars for you. If your car breaks down, they will pay for the repair or a replacement at no cost to you, even if it’s your fault. If this rule were put into place, I can guarantee you that people would be a lot less diligent about getting oil changes and I can guarantee you that people would care a lot less whether their car got a dent or not.

In the case of universal healthcare, suppose that I choose to smoke and eat a lot of junk food. Now I get fat and my lungs get dirty. If I get diabetes, a heart attack or lung cancer, my personal tragedy and misfortune doesn’t affect only me. It also affects those of you out there who are diligent about watching your weight and diligent about avoiding cigarettes, because you will have to pay for my medical care.

There are two ways to try and fix this. Either make each person responsible for their own health. Smokers, by virtue of a higher risk of lung cancer, would pay higher health insurance premiums. Healthy individual who are less likely to need expensive healthcare woud play lower premiums. We already have a system like this in place for auto insurance. If you have five accidents and four speeding tickets on your record, you are going to be paying more for insurance. The second way to try and fix this is what they are doing in Japan (as cited in the article) – putting restrictions on the lifestyle of the people to whom you are providing the free healthcare.

Is this really what we want?

  • http://infertilityadventure.blogspot.com Kami

    I just can’t believe that we don’t have enough knowledge and intelligence in this country to provide health care for everyone. Maybe it isn’t free, maybe it isn’t perfect, but we ought to do better than what we do now.

    We have the highest health care costs of any industrialized nation and yet we are one of the unhealthiest nations. (From the book Overdosed America). Surely, we can do better than that. Perhaps it is time to put health above profit.

  • IVF-MD

    Unfortunately it is impossible for healthcare to be without cost to society. When people get sick and seek healthcare, they consume a certain number of hours of labor from doctors, nurses, the ancillary staff of the hospital, the scientists who did research developing the drugs and equipment and the construction crew who built the facilities. How do you persuade all these people to give up their hours of labor for free, especially if this is their livelihood? Somebody has to pay for it. The debate then turns into one of who will be responsible for paying for it. But THIS specific article addresses the degree of responsibility that potential patients must themselves bear. Is it really fair for someone to get roaring drunk, fall and break his bones and then consume thousands of dollars of medical care for his orthopedic care when it could have been avoided by him just not being so reckless? That is the question society must decide.

    Bear in mind that we are not unhealthy because of poor healthcare. We are unhealthy because of abundant calories and leisure.

  • http://infertilityadventure.blogspot.com Kami

    “Is it really fair for someone to get roaring drunk, fall and break his bones and then consume thousands of dollars of medical care for his orthopedic care when it could have been avoided by him just not being so reckless?”

    I agree that is an important question – one in which I am undecided.

    “Bear in mind that we are not unhealthy because of poor healthcare. We are unhealthy because of abundant calories and leisure.”

    I don’t entirely agree with this statement. For example, there is ample evidence that drug companies don’t publish results that are not in favor of their drug. We may be using drugs that are not only not beneficial but actually cause harm. There is also the question of direct advertising to consumers. Why should I exercise to help relieve my restless leg syndrome (something that helps me) when I can just take a drug for it? What if the latest gadget to measure the health of our bodies causes long term damage? Who is studying that? Not the gadget producers.

    I won’t disagree that our typical American lifestyle contributes the problem, but I don’t think that is the only culprit.

  • IVF-MD

    I also believe that drug companies don’t publish all the data that are unflattering to their product. But let’s ask this: If a drug company makes claims in an ad that their product is going to miraculously relieve all my woes or if an aftershave company makes claims in an ad that splashing their product on my face will drive women crazy, is that in any way forcing me to use their product? Personally, you can throw all the diet pill ads at me that you want, but I’m still going to exercise and eat sensibly. Who can we blame if we as consumers fail to think intelligently when assessing the veracity of advertising? Is it our own fault for being stupid or the fault of our country’s educational system for failing to teach us how not to be stupid? 🙂