Monday, November 08, 2010

Question on HuffPo: "Do we want to give the government virtually unlimited power to control our purchases now and forever in exchange for greater access to healthcare?"

This is a valid question, but let me ask the same question in other arenas:

Do we want to give the government virtually unlimited power to...

  • Defend our country against military attack?
  • Regulate the flow of vehicles, goods commerce between states?
  • Regulate what food producers can and cannot put in our food?
  • Regulate what manufacturers can and cannot dump in our water, in a landfill or into the air?
  • Regulate what the financial industry can and cannot do?
  • Try, convict and imprison people if they do bad things, like murder, injure or steal?

When you put it this way, the concept of government regulating how healthcare is provided and paid for is not without precedent. There are certainly ample examples of this in other advanced countries and none of them would go back, despite their systems' flaws. Would it be perfect? No, but it'd be vastly better than what we have now.

I have advocated for a single payer system because there are economies of scale to be realized. Medications could be bought in bulk at vast savings. There would be the elimination of private corporate profits. Marketing and advertising costs would be largely eliminated. Administrative functions could be combined, standardized and hopefully streamlined. (Normally this would be a laugh when talking about the government, but since most medical record keeping is not computerized anyway we could both combine and computerize this process into a *new* system not hidebound by decades of government precedent.)

In the recent attempt at healthcare reform, what prevented this? Not Tea Partiers, protesting at the periphery with their hats, costumes, slogans and signs. No, it was Big insurance and Big Pharma, the ones who would stand to lose the most money from a system like this. They have their hands in the guts of the current system and in the current legislative process as well. They stopped it cold, turned it into a means whereby they were guaranteed millions more customers, And yet they still protest it now, because the new rules they'll have to follow will cut into their profits even more -- never mind the health care they're supposed to be providing.


Hunter W said...

I believe that something like 65% of all the revenues for the medicine industry come from the US market. (I can't find my research at the moment for the citation.) Have you done any research or thinking on how much funding for medical research would decrease if we put in price controls on medicine in the US market?

Barry said...

No research, no thinking, other than the thought that price controls are not effective. I think we should look at causes and impetus rather than resorting to brute force controls.

Rather than try to keep the lid held down onto the pot, we should lower the heat so the contents don't boil over.