A good “Prager” friend of mine, wrote the following letter to a Marxist devotee relative of his:
“…… your dreamlike socialist trances are delightfully retro. I hope that on your deathbed you renounce these ideas so that you may still have a 5-10% chance of going to heaven.
Since ample factual examples in history of the horrific, devastating impact on the human spirit and on human freedom of socialist and other leftist political systems apparently have little impact on you, I have to conclude that your wishes for the future of the American “health industry” are purely ideologically driven. If you point to Europe as some kind of positive example of health care, the situation is hopeless. Western Europe as a whole is a dying culture. Its once unparalleled greatness, as each country would pass the baton of greatness from one to another, is a thing of the past. It is now simply a mass of mediocrity, materialistic idlers who expect every infantile need to be met by the State. They are not even reproducing themselves. (I talked to a Dane yesterday, and he said that native Danes are producing 1.4 children per couple. Children are very inconvenient, they hamper your lifestyle, and they are not carbon neutral.) Most of the medical advances Europeans and Canadians rely on to maintain a semblance of good medical care come from–guess where?…………..America!
The “health industry” is only a term for a collection of various groups, entities and forces. I am in the health care industry. Doctors and nurses are in the health care industry. Insurance companies are. Drug companies. Medical device companies. Vitamin sellers. Alternative health care providers like acupuncturists. The Government. They are often at odds with each other–e.g., doctors vs. insurance companies, traditional medicine vs. holistic medicine, The American Medical Association vs. the American Psychological Association (regarding prescription privileges). The health industry is not a monolithic blob that has come to engulf us all. American health care research and development has been one of the wonders of the modern age, or any age. It is now dying due to over-regulation by the Government and the successful ability of personal liability lawyers to convince juries of multi-billion dollar lawsuits because John Doe didn’t realize that cigarettes were bad for him. He was tricked by the cigarette companies all those decades!
You may not realize it, but various governments (Federal, State, County and City) already account for over half of all people insured, including all government employees, the military, Medicare, Medicaid–even your Tante Betty, who, as a widow, has federal health insurance that is similar to, but better than, Medicare. They pay so little that providers and hospitals lose money. So they have been able to cost-shift to the rest of us, raising our health care costs. If the Government takes over the whole system, there will be no one left to cost-shift to. This will result in massive Government expense and an implosion of the provider system that is already so demoralized. If you are unhappy with the state of medical care or insurance, you might start by scrapping the largest buttinskis of all–the Government. Of course, if you like the care that people get under Medicare or at the VA, then you’ll want it for the rest of us.
I have seen a number of polls since June (CNN, Fox, NY Times, Gallup, etc.), and they consistently come out with 85% of those surveyed saying they are satisfied with their health care. Do facts matter? Are we going to scrap a system that most people like, despite the “crisis” mentality fulminating from the Left, for an ideologically-driven plunge into Western European-style socialism?
I am not sure whether you realize that, this time aound, the health insurance industry is lined up with Obama and Congressional Leftists. They have been suckered into believing that Big Government’s mandatory coverage laws will work in their favor by giving them vast new numbers of mandatory enrollee premiums. Similarly, the AMA leadership has gotten snookered by Obama into believing that the doctor-patient relationship will remain protected if they support him. The rank-and-file are rebelling. They are sheep being led to the slaughter.
The idea that people will spends hundreds of thousands of borrowed dollars to go through the many years and rigors of medical school and post-doctoral specialization so that they can provide good medical care for a pittance to their socialist brothers is naive. The doctors and nurses and psychologists who I know, and there are many, are already motivated to do good for others. There is nothing evil in wanting to also make a profit, unless of course you are a Marxist.
Where you and I do seem to agree is that business tends to be amoral. Companies will do business with Nazis, Socialists, and Saddam Hussein if there is a profit to be made. Once we realize this, perhaps we can, like adults, realize that this is one undesirable part of the healthy innate human striving to explore, grow, discover, and prosper. I don’t admire most big businessmen, but I do admire capitalism. It is the system that most closely allows humans to express their innate humanity. If I want your money, I need to offer you something that you want. If I want to keep getting your money, I need to improve what I offer you or my competitor will get your money. I need to treat you right or I will lose your business. I can be black or white or red or yellow, and if I make a better loaf of bread, you don’t care and you will buy mine. Another Henry, Henry Ford, became a bazillionaire by making a low-cost, affordable, reliable product. he didn’t suck the financial juices out of the proletarian class. I don’t care for Bill Gates personally, but I love what he has done. He has made my life, and the lives of billions of people, so much better. I hope he makes another $100 billion, because that will mean he has come up with something else that is pretty spectacular.
There is nothing special about medical care. It is a service, and it is an extremely costly business to run. One successful new drug costs hundreds of millions or billions of dollars, and most drugs don’t make it to the market. Your socialized medicine, if enacted, will kill health care in this country. You will squeeze out profits, make health care providers see more and more patients until even more of them become demoralized, and will destroy the greatest medical research and development system in the world. Western Europe already provides decades of experience. To support their health care nanny states, they have very slow growth, anemic job creation, and high unemployment. In the U.S., Massachusetts comes perhaps the closest to what you would might like to see (thank you, Mitt Romney), and they are now going bankrupt from the costs of their health care system.
I suspect that, were you to respond, you would ignore these facts and cite a different set of issues. Thus, we would be talking at cross-purposes. I would say, however, that health care, like all other human endeavors, is imperfect. What a brilliant revelation! Do you have to destroy the fundamental system, however, to improve it? There are other, highly effective, free-market approaches that are not being used enough because of left-wing Government allegiance to its donor base. These include making insurance portable, ending employer-based coverage and instead placing the responsibility on the individual and his family (e.g., Health Savings Accounts), allowing for interstate purchasing of health insurance, and tort reform. In Massachusetts, a June survey by the Massachusetts Medical Society found that 25% of physicians acknowledged that they order tests and do procedures at times to protect themselves from lawsuits.
Obamacare won’t reform health care, it will destroy it.”
Thank you for the note, good Prager friend. ghr
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