The Health Care Gamble

The amount of waste in any government health program that no one dares really investigate is staggering, far in excess of that in private health care.

by Dr. Larry Wilson —

America is considering moving toward a European-style socialized medical system. Both of the major parties’ presidential candidates, Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain, are proposing significant changes to our current health care system. In this article, let us clearly explore — without mincing words — some of the dangers I see in moving toward a socialized system.

According to some, the problem is too much freedom and free enterprise. The only “moral and fair” solution is to mandate (read force) everyone into a universal (read socialistic) health care system. Others agree that freedom is the problem — but that there’s too little of it.

Why are costs so high?

Medical experts say costs are high because illness is expensive to treat and people are living longer. However, I maintain the truth is different. You decide what you believe. Here are other costs that most experts ignore:

1. Drugs and hospital care are outrageously costly. Some of this is necessary, but much is not. America and Europe have a cartel-based health care system, in which drug-based medicine rules and all other modalities are pushed to the side, literally.

Natural methods of care, for example, are often far less costly, but are not permitted in most hospitals. Nor are natural methods permitted in large socialist programs, such as Medicaid and Medicare. Without much competition, however, drug companies are often incredibly greedy.

2. A sick population raises costs. Fully 50 percent of Americans over 40 years of age have chronic health conditions. However, the very system that would be expanded and forced on all Americans is responsible for much of this disease. Why is this so?

Public health authorities such as the Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and others tell us it is OK to eat sugar, as well as white flour and hundreds of questionable food additives. Meanwhile, they oppose the sale of far healthier foods such as raw, certified milk and cheese.

They also push the use of many questionable vaccines for children at a time when they are most vulnerable to side-effects such as autism, ADHD and even death.

The same authorities insist on toxic fluoride and deadly chlorine in the water supply, while far safer and more effective alternatives are available. All this adds greatly to the cost of health care.

3. Iatrogenic or doctor-caused illness. The Journal of the American Medical Association reported that the adverse effects of drugs and surgeries are the third or fourth leading causes of death in America. In another report — probably more accurate — by Gary Null, Ph.D., adverse medical effects emerge as the leading cause of death or disability in the U.S.

4. Malpractice. Nutritionists pay about $100 to $250 annually in malpractice insurance, but licensed drug doctors pay about 100 times this much.

Hospitals, device manufacturers and others also pay high malpractice premiums. Some legal oversight is good, but the system is out of control. The enormous legal costs of medical care are passed on to you in higher prices for all drugs and hospital stays.

5. Fraud and other waste. In 2007, fraud in Medicare alone was estimated at about $33 billion out of $426 billion, or about 7.5 percent.

Instead of direct accountability to citizens, which means everyone watches his pocketbook, government systems employ armies of “health police” who chase down and prosecute cheaters. Enforcement is conducted through massive amounts of paperwork. This is another huge waste of money for doctors, hospitals, labs and everyone else in the health care field. The paperwork also demoralizes doctors and other staff.

The amount of waste in any government health program that no one dares really investigate is staggering, far in excess of that in private health care.

6. Defensive medicine. This is the costly and, at times, disastrous practice of prescribing extra scans, drugs and even operations to satisfy licensing boards, attorneys and sometimes insurers. It is standard today, especially in hospitals.

Defensive medicine is far rarer in private fee-for-service offices where the patient actually oversees the bill and has a more direct relationship with the doctor and staff.

7. Lobbying. Any time a government gets into business, including health care, it becomes a political hot potato. All the players want their products and services covered by government programs.

Drug companies, especially, spend billions on TV ads and on lobbying doctors, the FDA, FTC and, of course, Congress. The cost is again passed on to you, in higher prices for every medical service and product.

Capitalist market failure?

See the graph on this page showing the official total of U.S. health costs over the past 67 years. Note that something dramatic happened around 1970, because health care costs exploded at that time. The graph turns almost vertical. What happened was the adoption of Medicare and Medicaid, America’s socialized medical programs.

In other words, the real explosion in health costs was not due to the market, but instead to its destruction. This must stop, or it will just mean greater debt for our children and grandchildren — until common sense returns to those we elect to office.

Understanding markets

A market means there are buyers and sellers willing to bargain over prices, so that both get the best deal possible. A market also means that prices and costs are transparent and little is hidden from view. This is not how American health care works today.

Free market health care. During America’s first 120 years or so, many healing systems competed openly on an even playing field. They included osteopathy, chiropractic, herbal medicine, drugs, homeopathy, nutrition and others.

The least expensive and most effective ones prevailed. Access to care was excellent for a large, growing nation, and costs were kept low by competition. America had the best health in the world at that time. Today we spend more, yet our health statistics are nowhere nearly as good, compared to other nations.

Few realize that the American Medical Association, or AMA, was formed in 1847 because America’s free market health system worked so well. The drug doctors or allopaths, as they were called, were not making enough money.

Car care as a current model. To better understand a free market, consider how cars are repaired today. Many options exist for auto care. Some people choose fancy licensed dealerships to repair their car. Others choose certified local mechanics, uncertified repair shops or even do some of the work themselves.

Prices are known, and plenty of competition keeps most shops fairly honest. Most importantly, a spirit of helpfulness pervades the system. As a result, even the poorest people seem to find ways to have their cars repaired adequately. Freedom of choice provides many options, and the system runs smoothly with no government interference or special regulations.

You may think, but it’s only a car. Yes, and cars are quite complex machines to which we entrust our lives every day. But if we lose trust, we can simply change mechanics.

The uninsured “problem”

There are those who claim this is a crisis. The truth is, up to 20 percent of the uninsured qualify for government programs but have not bothered to apply. Another large group of the uninsured are illegal immigrants who cannot get insurance without a social security number. Others just prefer to spend their hard-earned money elsewhere.

In fact, there is no crisis of the uninsured. It is a false argument used to help force everyone into a very dysfunctional health care system.

Is there a right to health care?

Some people say there is a right to health care. Let us examine this carefully. Rights can be of several types.

Natural rights are those that come from the Creator. Our Declaration of Independence describes inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. A right to unlimited health care services is not among them.

Entitlements are government-bestowed rights. They are more like promises from the government of certain defined goods or services. For example, the right to a speedy trial by a jury of one’s peers is one of extremely few entitlements in our original Bill of Rights.

Problems with entitlements, including jury trials, are:

1. Enormous cost. In fact, our government has modified the right to a jury trial due to its cost. Few people actually get a jury trial today, even though it would be fairer.

A problem with the right to health care goods and services is deciding which ones should be included. This would be debated endlessly and subjected to total political manipulation. In other words, the fine print is everything in an entitlement. Otherwise, the promise is empty.

Another part of the cost is that someone must be paid to provide the goods and services. This means armies of government employees are required to dole out the goods and services and monitor the entire process. Entitlements also cost far more than anyone can estimate, due, in large part, to the problem described below.

2. They reverse the positive incentive to take responsibility for oneself and one’s family. After all, why bother caring for yourself if the government will clean up your messes? One way out of this dilemma is what I would call a right to choice in health care.

Freedoms or rights to choice come from the government, just like entitlements. However, they don’t cost the taxpayers a nickel. No one promises goods or services with all that this entails.

Freedoms, or rights to choice, are prohibitions against government interference with a particular activity or behavior. Many of these are in our founding documents.

They include the right to speak freely, to worship as one chooses and the right to bear arms. Dr. Benjamin Rush, a physician and signer of the Declaration of Independence, suggested a right to choice in health care, but it was left out of the Bill of Rights.

This right would mean that the government may never impose a single type of health care. Citizens would always have a right to choose their health care, just as they choose their religion or speech. A few in Congress have called for such a change. It would be a step in the right direction to break up the cartel-based system we currently have. It would also not require a new bureaucracy and higher taxes, as entitlements always do.

It would also increase competition and thus reduce our health care costs dramatically, over time.

Is “universal care” the moral solution?

Socialists say their government-run plan is the only moral solution. I disagree, and here is why:

1. It is compulsory. There is nothing moral about forcing people to accept and pay for drug-cartel medicine, even if one doesn’t want it and won’t use it.

2. It is wasteful and would be riddled with fraud. This seems immoral to me. Instead, I prefer to control my health records, not to let a large bureaucracy handle it.

3. It is based on a lie. The lie is that the government is somehow smarter than you are in figuring out your real health care needs.

The Europeans and Canadians have discovered these problems with socialized medical systems. In fact, most western European and Asian nations such as Japan, Great Britain, France and others are looking for ways to move away from the socialistic schemes that are bankrupting their nations.

We, as individuals, must carefully examine the candidates’ positions, as certainly we do not want to establish a new, large entitlement program that will likely further rob us of our money, our freedom and what is left of our health as a nation. For more information about each candidate’s proposed health care plan, see their Web sites.

References

1. www.HHS.gov. A good source of official government information about health care.

2. Goodman, J.C. and Musgrave, G.L., Patient Power: Solving America’s Health Care Crisis, Cato Institute, Washington, DC, 1992.

3. Health, US, 2006. Table 120, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, Hyattsville, MD, 2006.

4. Hornberger, J. and Ebeling, R., editors, The Dangers of Socialized Medicine, Future of Freedom Foundation, Fairfax, VA, 1994.

5. Ruwart, M.J., Healing Our World, SunStar Press, Kalamazoo, MI, 1993.

6. Skousen, W.C., The Five Thousand Year Leap, The National Center for Constitutional Studies, Washington, DC, 1981.

7. Wasley, T., What Has Government Done to Our Health Care, Cato Institute, Washington, DC, 1992.

8. Wiley, H., The History of a Crime Against the Food Law: The Story of the National Food and Drugs Law Intended to Protect the Health of the People, Perverted to Protect Adulteration of Foods and Drugs, Harvey Wiley, Washington, DC, 1929, 1955. Wiley was the first director (1906-12) of the Bureau of Chemistry, later renamed the Food and Drug Administration.

 

Dr. Lawrence Wilson has a medical degree and has been in the health field for more than 25 years. His books include Nutritional Balancing and Hair Mineral Analysis, Legal Guidelines for Unlicensed Practitioners, Healing Ourselves and Manual of Sauna Therapy and The Real Self. He also co-authored Toxic Metals in Human Health and Disease and contributed to The Dangers of Socialized Medicine. www.drlwilson.com or 928-445-7690.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 27, Number 5, October/November 2008.

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