Stone Pigs

undeniable underlying truths

Looking Up the Skirts of Health Care

Posted By Alan Partis on September 9, 2008

Providing health care, medical services, or whatever it is called, is really just another type of business.  It’s a personal service not unlike a barber shop and not much different from your local auto mechanic.  One of my local hospitals has been running ‘public service announcements’ on local radio stations urging men to get PSA tests done once a year to screen for prostate cancer.  That’s nothing more than a way to drum up more business and make more money, albeit under the guise of providing a service that you should not do without.  It’s no different than an air conditioning company telling you to have your cooling system ‘serviced’ once a year to help prevent bigger problems down the road.

There is ample evidence that it is generally cheaper in the long run to do preventive maintenance (whether on your body or your car or your a/c …), but for the business providing the service, it is much better to have a solid stable revenue stream that requires less skill to maintain than it is to have to provide more highly skilled service technicians (AKA ‘doctors’) and deal only with disasters.  But this is where insurance gets in the way and really screws things up.  If the consumer of a service desires to have an insurance policy pay for routine maintenance, then clearly the premiums that must be charged in order to cover those expenses must be increased.  No one thinks twice about submitting a claim on their auto insurance policy to cover an oil change, but many of those same people expect medical insurance to cover every routine trip to the doctor’s office.  That’s why health insurance is so much more expensive.

My observation is that the incidence of high quality medical service providers is no different than in any other segment of society i.e. it’s pretty hit or miss.  Couple that with the fact that medical businesses, like any other business, will want to favor the business model that reduces expenses by hiring lower paid employees and providing more ‘factory line’ services, and you’ve got a recipe for ‘mixed’ quality, at best.

Now I just need to have someone explain to me how any plan from Hillary, or Obama, or any other liberal, is actually going to counter these economic realities.  Their big solution seems to be somehow giving insurance to everyone either by having the government be the single insurance company (under the belief that a government bureaucracy run by liberal managers will be better I guess just because they inherently ‘care’ more than anyone else), or by having the government (AKA the same group of caring liberal managers) actually own and operate all the medical service businesses.  There is just no way that a sane person with their eyes open is going to believe that will actually reduce costs or improve the quality of service.  The same government that can’t seem to do anything else right will somehow magically do health care perfectly?  I think not.

The only thing that is ever going to improve things is to re-insert the actual consumer into the cycle, or make it a lot easier for medical small businesses to flourish again.  Innovation and cost savings in all other industries comes from small businesses finding more efficient ways to do things so that they can compete better in the marketplace.  These efficiencies and innovations are then adopted by others in the marketplace as a way to keep pace and not be driven out themselves.  Due to the influence of large insurance companies, government regulations, and the costs born from our litigious society, it’s almost impossible to have a truly successful and innovative small medical business anymore.  Therefore improvements in the system just don’t seem to be on the horizon.  Merging insurance companies into one giant behemoth, or increasing the amount of government regulations is only going to exacerbate the problems, not reduce them.

In my opinion, the solution is a much greater education of the consumer, but every other aspect of our society runs counter to that approach.  We’ve managed to engineer a very self-absorbed, intellectually lazy society that glorifies idiotic sound-byte mentalities and marginalizes intellectuals.  That recipe is great for doing mass hypnosis and allowing a few self-appointed ‘leaders’ to march the herd off to slaughter.  We need more and more people who can stand up in public and say what is needed to be said and be willing to take the slings and arrows that will come their way.  There needs to be a great period of reawakening, but I’m afraid all may already be lost.

I see in the news just now that ‘mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’ (as if that’s the actual names on their marquees) are now going to be taken over to an even greater degree by the Federal Government.  Is there anyone who believes this will actually improve anything about them?  I’m willing to bet that if I read the associated stories, that the Democrats are going to say this isn’t a good thing.  However, in their next breath they’ll say that government takeover of the health care and health insurance business would be a godsend.

How hypocritical.


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