Friday, May 30, 2008

Here's the problem with the American health system

The American health system is a pretty big disaster. Prices are ridiculously high. Inefficiencies and waiting lists for those who do not have private health cover are not also terrible. Having said that, here is a hard truth:

America is definitely not a textbook example of private health.

One of the biggest myths out there is that American health system is an example of free markets gone wild, of capitalism and of privatisation. This lie is used as a throw away line by progressives and socialists who favor the expansion of the state, and the elimination of private business in the health sector.

And whilst they do not yet have "universal" coverage but they are 90% of the way there since SCHIPS and other reforms.

We know Britain, Canada and France are textbook examples of universal public health, and they totally suck. Health services are literally rationed out to millions. You wait months, or you die waiting, or you run off to America to pay for an operation. For decades, the civilised world has decided not to ration out food which is vital and essential to our well-being. Food stamps, queues and rationing are a thing of the Soviet era... If only rationing medicine was not !!

The Angry Economist nails it with one simple paragraph.
Our current health care mess was caused by wage and price controls during WWII. Wages were limited, so to attract the best employees, employers bought them free health care. After the war was over, employees took free health care for granted. Health care was still affordable then, because most people paid for it out of pocket. Now that very few people have to pay their own medical bills, they don't care how much health care costs, so they don't care to economize, and the medical industry is happy to oblige their spendthrift ways. Everybody complains about how the insurance companies don't want to pay for anything. If people were paying their own money, they wouldn't want to pay for anything, and the medical industry would find itself needing to keep the cost of health care low.