Affordable health care

Americans often think that the rest of the world can not hold a candle to America in any respect; but now the Internet allows us to find out some things. In today’s example let us look at the inflated costs and inferior quality of the American health-care industry.

On the medical care example, Simon Black wrote:

Pattaya, Thailand

I’m one of those idiots who pays into a health insurance plan month after month, year after year, and never goes to the doctor.

In fact, I’ve had my current plan for years without ever filing a claim. The only reason to have it is the unlikely event that I trip over my shoelace while visiting the US and end up with a $200,000 emergency room bill.

Everywhere else, insurance isn’t necessary; the price of healthcare in most places is reasonable enough to pay cash.

Perhaps nowhere is this more true than in Thailand… home to one of the most advanced, highest quality, and cheapest private healthcare systems on the planet.

Every time I’m here, I visit a hospital just to try things out; my experiences have always been stellar. And speedy.

Just yesterday I dropped in (without an appointment) to Bangkok Hospital’s Pattaya branch to check my cholesterol. There was zero paperwork upon check-in… no stupid forms, no clipboards. And I went straight to the back. No waiting around.

Afterwards, one of the staff physicians came over to chat. His English was perfect, and it seemed as if I was his only patient of the day.

That’s perhaps one of the most important points about healthcare here – the staff/patient ratio is astoundingly high, so you get a tremendous amount of personal attention.

The whole experience is also very private. I use an assumed name at the hospital. I’ve never given them any ID. And obviously there’s no insurance company or government agency demanding my records.

The biggest benefit, though, is cost. Or lack thereof. The amount I paid for my visit yesterday wouldn’t buy a beer in some countries. And the sticker shock applies universally to all tests and procedures, from imaging to chemotherapy to fertility treatments to elective surgery.

The physicians here are excellent. But for those who can’t get over the idea of a foreign doctor, one approach is hiring a specialist in your home country to consult and be the ‘quarterback’ of your care. You get all the expensive tests, imaging, and labs done in Thailand, then send the results back home. …

Can you imagine that? Can he be right? Well, the New Yorker Magazine has an article that backs up the idea that health care in the rest of the world is much better and cheaper than in the USA.

… For Americans, the attraction is obvious: medical care is a lot cheaper abroad. At CIMA Hospital, in Costa Rica, for instance, hip-replacement surgery costs around fifteen thousand dollars, roughly a sixth of the average here. So far, though, various factors have kept a lid on demand. Logistics can be challenging, and insurance companies have been leery about reimbursements for care overseas: they already get big discounts with U.S. hospitals, and they risk a public-relations disaster anytime something goes wrong abroad. Above all, patients have been wary. We trust the quality of foreign-made televisions and cars, but we haven’t taken that leap when it comes to foreign doctors.  …

What is going on here? The same thing described by a writer at the progressive site Salon.com where they had the article How I got well in India for $50. The subtitle was, “My cheap, fast and effective treatment in New Delhi reminded me of everything wrong with American health-care” and let me tell you that article is an eye opener.

As health care in many places on the planet costs a fraction of the same care in the US, one would naturally wonder why. The answer, simply, is governmental intervention in all areas of health care and medical services delivery. There is no way for the society to pay for the health care under any system unless the costs come down. I hear no politician other than Ron Paul talk about bringing down costs by letting the free market deliver health care. Certainly under a president Obama or a president Romney either one the situation will only get worse. Health care will stay ultra-expensive no matter who wins this year.

But what could be done in America to make health-care affordable? Hans-Hermann Hoppe offered the following four step program some years ago:

1. Eliminate all licensing requirements for medical schools, hospitals, pharmacies, and medical doctors and other health care personnel. Their supply would almost instantly increase, prices would fall, and a greater variety of health care services would appear on the market.

2. Eliminate all government restrictions on the production and sale of pharmaceutical products and medical devices. This means no more Food and Drug Administration, which presently hinders innovation and increases costs.

3. Deregulate the health insurance industry. Private enterprise can offer insurance against events over whose outcome the insured possesses no control. One cannot insure oneself against suicide or bankruptcy, for example, because it is in one’s own hands to bring these events about.

4. Eliminate all subsidies to the sick or unhealthy. Subsidies create more of whatever is being subsidized. Subsidies for the ill and diseased breed illness and disease, and promote carelessness, indigence, and dependency. If we eliminate them, we would strengthen the will to live healthy lives and to work for a living. In the first instance, that means abolishing Medicare and Medicaid.

Those four steps would restore a laissez-faire free market in medical care and until then we will have substandard medicine at inflated costs. Simple as that.

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4 thoughts on “Affordable health care

  1. Hi, i think that i saw you visited my weblog so i came to “return the favor”.I am trying to find things to enhance my web site!I suppose its ok to use a few of your ideas!!

  2. Women in particular should pop the champagne and celebrate. Of those millions of uninsured, 19 million are women . Up to 10.3 million of the low-income among them will now be covered by Medicaid by 2014 when the law goes into full effect. Although the uninsured tend to use less medical care, and therefore spend less than the insured, altogether they spend about $2.64 billion out of pocket each year. (Not to mention that being uninsured leads to a greater risk of death.) They can rest assured that the Supreme Court won’t get in the way of their insurance coverage, which should mean more accessible and affordable care.

  3. There are risks (and probably some discomfort) to going abroad, sight unseen, to get medical treatment, so do your research . But with limited access to health care and rising costs in the U.S., medical tourism is something that millions of people do each year . I suggest involving your doctor in the U.S. Mine wrote down exactly which tests I needed to come back with, and I called my endocrinologist in the Philippines before booking my tickets to make sure that all the logistics worked out. If you don’t have a connection in another country, there are whole associations dedicated to facilitating medical tourism, and there are a couple of hospitals who have made their name treating foreigners, like Bunrumgrad Hospital in Thailand.

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