Healthcare Reform–Reflections

The thing I don’t get about health-care reform is, how are we going to balance the right to receive, with an incentive to perform.  The more I think about, we should lose the perspective of right and wrong solutions, and focus on balancing conflicting forces.

As the government takes profit out of specializing in medical services (in the media they say control costs, reduce fraud, and other creative terms), they will drive people willing to provide medical services out of the business.   And without people innovating: creating new machines, discovering new drugs, or perfecting treatments, for example, the quality of health care will lower.

Yet, the society must take profit’s out with regulation.  As we were reminded from the behaviors rampant in the financial industry, people who enter an industry for the money are greedy.  The medical arena is no different.   When lots of profits are available, a significant portion of the people will enter the industry and behave badly.   It’s a mistake to form government regulation that presumes “the market” and “competition” will bring down the cost of health care.   How Naive!  With profits, comes people who are in the business for the money, hence, high profits require regulation to prevent human greed on the margin of society’s transaction.  They are too many examples of fraud, waste, and inhumane treatment within today’s medical system, no one should presume otherwise.

But, how much of a right to health care exist?  Health care is far from an all-you-can-eat buffet.   There has to be limits.  I’ve long held that the minimum care for all people should be designed with the intent to control infectious diseases.  Thus, mitigating the great societal risk.  Beyond that, I’m open for debate.  I understand that cancer, broken limbs, and gun shot wounds, for example, are not infectious diseases.  And allocating care for these circumstances by income, has consequences too painful for some to take, such as emotional suffering, lost productivity, and disproportionate burden on the nation’s lower income class.   However, subsidized services  for the lower income, also has consequences.  The pains and demands of people with an expectation of “free” services makes any system, highly inefficient and ineffective.  Thus, the battles in society to draw the lines is the only way to find an acceptable trade-off.  There I’ve implied it, and now I’ll say it–Congress has a role and purpose.

For the record, employer mandated healthcare is a stupid idea.   We will never have full employment, so why mandate coverage for all with a mechanism that is by its very definition insufficient.  Enough said.

No doubt in my mind the democrats will get some form of health-care reform completed.  The reforms will have unintended consequences, but that’s the nature of the conflicting values the society is trying to balance.   Reform is good for the country.  Medical reform will then be on the table for refinement for years to come.  The country will vote in politicians that make changes, some for the better and some for the worse, but we will constantly be moving toward a happy medium.  And that’s the best part of starting reform.

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