Economics

Nothing Wrong With Federal Inability to Contain Medical Costs that More Federal Medical Costs Can't Cure, Eh?

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Megan McArdle at The Atlantic web site wonders if there's something askew with the logic that the solution to increasing costs in federally run medical systems is expanding federal control over the medical system:

Any cost savings you want to wring out of Medicare can be wrung out of Medicare right now:  the program is large and powerful enough, and costly enough, that they are worth doing without adding a single new person to the mix.  Conversely, if there is some political or institutional barrier which is preventing you from controlling Medicare cost inflation, than that barrier probably is not going away merely because the program covers more people. 

She does point out what is probably really behind such thinking: that if we get a system where there is nothing but government run, supplied, and paid for health care, than the government can presumably start making any decision it wants to cut costs, and we'll all just have to suck up and take it. I'd love for someone to campaign on that platform.

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  1. Hmmm. Once they cover everybody, how would they cut costs? With price controls? What is it again that price controls always cause?

  2. It’s not about controlling costs. That’s just a ruse to fool an ignorant and gullible public. It’s all about power and control.

  3. Price controls cause shortages.
    Shortages cause black markets.
    Black markets lead to back alley abortions.

    Socials want more back alley abortions!!!!

  4. Socialists. Damn you preview button, damn you straight to hell!

  5. The boring banter I saw when I skimmed the comments to that article astounds me. I just can not believe how seriously people take socialism. They’re arguing over fucking medication costs!

    I know that all the previous comments here basically say what I’m trying to. But arguing simply one version of socialism happens to be cheaper than the other, and we should stay where we are, is the definition of losing the plot.

  6. She does point out what is probably really behind such thinking:

    This is no new, outside-the-box theory. This is the reason government ultimately wants to control all healthcare. They can simply dictate the costs by fiat.

    In essence, the entire healthcare industry becomes a price-control zone.

  7. Demand for healthcare is limitless. Willingness to pay for it, even with the current bunch running things, is presumably not.

    Price controls will follow inevitably, followed by mandating that providers accept government payment rates, to combat the inevitable exodus of providers willing to serve under the new regime–to the extent people’s commitments and choices permit them to stop serving Obamacare patients.

    Rationing care will be the other inevitable result. Limitless demand + limited resource –> very high cost –> budget mutilation –> arbitrary reduction in supply by government fiat. As surely as day follows night.

    Don’t get me wrong; I think some sort of national consensus or at least discussion is long overdue about whether we can afford to continue to do everything technically feasible to every person regardless of age or prognosis or likely effectiveness. I say we can’t, and shouldn’t; no individual should have that much claim on the resources of others. But the discussion should be held in daylight, not slipped in under stealth mode.

  8. I say we can’t, and shouldn’t; no individual should have that much claim on the resources of others.

    They damned well do, if they or their insurer can and is willing to pay for it. The problem with health care by central planning is that the single provider chooses for you, rather than allowing you to choose among multiple providers, some of whom would cover a procedure while others wouldn’t.

    Eliminating all the competition-that is, acquiring a monopoly through the existing monopoly on force-is the first step toward attempting to maximize global utility by eliminating the weak. Welcome to the Brave New World.

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