Friday, July 24, 2009

Cost is the least of our worries - don't plan on getting sick.

Much of the concern over the pending health care bill is focused on its cost. As big a concern as it is, the cost to taxpayers pales in comparison to the affect it will have on actual health care. If this legislation passes, not only will there be less health care available, what IS available will be of inferior quality than it is today.

One recent comment proposed the notion that free market principles for health care can't work because health care is a need while (to use his example) color copies are not. Unfortunately, that notion could not be further from the truth. Every single resource weather it is copier services, energy, or medical supplies are subject to the same laws of supply and demand whether we like it or not.

Whether it's MRI's, cars or said color copies, the purchaser ALWAYS wants the best available and for as little as possible. Sellers ALWAYS want to get the most in return for as little as possible.

While it would be wonderful if everyone in the medical and pharmaceutical professions were in it solely to help people and had no regard for compensation, but wishing it to be so will not change the reality that humans all want their own interests served.

If this bill passes, consumers will all want the best available care. However, doctors, equipment, pills and time are all in limited supply. Now that cost is no longer an obstacle for patients, demand for all sorts of medical care will swell drastically. In a free market, this would cause the price of care to rise and more individuals would decide to go into medicine, build MRI machines, develop new medicine because medicine would become more profitable.

However, with the government running the show, the price of care will NOT be permitted to rise. This will lead to doctors leaving practice, our best and brightest going into other professions, equipment suppliers producing less (not to mention companies that service equipment when it breaks).

Yes, free markets require individuals to make difficult choices - I might not want to pay $5000 for an MRI out of my pocket, but I also don't like paying $500+ a month to put food in my families mouths. I certainly wouldn't mind if other folks would make my mortgage payment either. The bottom line is, somebody needs to make choices about what level of health care we get. My money is on individuals to best make that decision - not the next MRI czar.

Our commenter was correct - there is a difference between necessities like medicine and color copies - but he had the consequences reversed. If Washington imposed price caps on color copies, we have less of them and they'd be of lesser quality, but if this bill passes, people will die because of it.

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