health care

Free Market Medicine

Getting there, slowly and with backsliding.

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President Obama's proudest accomplishment is increasing the number of Americans with health insurance. A better idea would be to help people escape government care altogether.

As I wrote after my recent surgery, hospital bureaucracy is toxic for patients. Unfortunately, calls for reform usually come from people who want more of the same—more health insurance coverage, more Medicaid, more layers of government oversight.

Our likely next president will push for more government-run health care.

"Single payer would have lower costs," she claimed when pushing HillaryCare.

Progressives love that phrase, "single payer." It suggests that medical costs will be covered not by you but by some benign other, without the nastiness of profit.

"Get profit out, get the private health insurance company out," says filmmaker Michael Moore.

I reminded him that under Canada's government-run system, patients wait in line for care, often for months. He replied, "That's the line where they live three years longer than we do! That's the line I want to be in!"

It's true—Canadians and Europeans live longer. Progressives cite that to plug single payer. But it's deceitful. Canadians live longer not because their health care system is better, but because they behave differently. They drive less often and so have fewer accidents. They murder each other less often. They're less likely to be fat, or as I said to Moore, to "look like you."

I give him credit for laughing, but then he claimed Canadians live longer "because they never have to worry about paying to go see the doctor."

Give me a break. It's nice not to worry, but it won't save your life. Some Canadians worry so much about not getting treatment that they travel to the U.S. to see doctors.

In Canada, we do find one pocket of free-market medicine: clinics that offer cutting-edge, life-saving technology without waiting lines.

But you need four legs to get that treatment. If Canadians want a CT scan, the waiting list is a month. But a private veterinary clinic will scan your dog today.

When government is in charge, you get long lines and someone else deciding if you get treatment.

I don't claim that America's partly private system is great. I wrote about bureaucracy and indifferent customer service.

Some of you mocked my "whining": "What a jerk. They save his life and he complains."

You have a point. I'm now back at work, and playing beach volleyball, less than four weeks later. I'm grateful that I got good medical care.

But I'm a consumer reporter. I don't see why the rest of the experience can't be good, too.

On my TV show this week, my guests describe real reform: free-market medicine.

David Goldhill, author of Catastrophic Care: Why Everything We Think We Know About Health Care Is Wrong points out that, "Unfortunately, the customer of the hospital isn't the patient, it's the insurer, it's Medicare, it's Medicaid … That difference explains a lot of the things that we are dissatisfied with in American health care."

But Goldhill points to one favorable trend. "Increasingly, people have high deductible (insurance) plans … It's the most promising thing in health care."

Many patients hate high deductibles. But they are useful because they make us realize that care is not "free."

Patients with high deductibles and Health Savings Accounts ask important questions: "Doc, do I really need that test? What does it cost?" They shop around.

Suddenly, there's the beginning of an actual market. When patients shop, doctors strive to please patients rather than distant bureaucrats. More doctors give out their email addresses and cellphone numbers, and shorten waiting times Their bills are easier to read because the providers want customers to pay them!

Government and insurance companies don't make health care free. Such third-party payments just hide the cost, which increases the costs and makes payment more complicated.

Even the fact that medical mistakes are now the third leading cause of death barely makes the bureaucracy sit up and take notice. All politicians care about is that you vote for them before you expire.

COPYRIGHT 2016 BY JFS PRODUCTIONS INC.

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  1. Look, you libertards, if there were no regulations on doctors they would just kill their patients as that is the cheapest way to provide care!

    1. They don’t want the cheapest they want to just barely keep you alive to milk you.

      1. That’s why I see Tor Eckman for my healthcare needs.

        1. + too much dairy

      2. Tort law to the white courtesy phone, tort law…

      3. Strap my blood bag to the car hood, I gotta go to work!

    2. Observe the appeal to prophesy in support of socialism as Revealed Faith. No way are they going to point to the historical record of how well the Cubans, Chinese, East Germans and Rumanians actually fared in a Worker’s Paradise.

      1. Those were Communist countries, not Democratic Socialist countries like Scandinavia. /prog

  2. Huh? Sorry, was staring at the picture accompanying the blog teaser.

    1. My significant other looks like that (but better). I’m so lucky :0)

      1. Pics or we don’t believe you.

    2. Would. Definitely would.

  3. “Some of you mocked my “whining”: “What a jerk. They save his life and he complains.””

    With the government responsible for over half of our health care expenditures, Mr. Stossel received good treatment despite government actions, not because of them.

    1. Apparently, pointing out that doctors should be paid by Mr. Stossel himself, and not some abstract third party, is being ungrateful. Somehow.

  4. In Soviet hospitals, a common practice was to put terminal patients just outside the hospital. That way if they died, the deaths would not count on the hospital’s mortality statistics.

    link

    The system had many decades to work, but widespread apathy and low quality of work paralyzed the healthcare system. In the depths of the socialist experiment, healthcare institutions in Russia were at least a hundred years behind the average US level. Moreover, the filth, odors, cats roaming the halls, drunken medical personnel, and absence of soap and cleaning supplies added to an overall impression of hopelessness and frustration that paralyzed the system. According to official Russian estimates, 78 percent of all AIDS victims in Russia contracted the virus through dirty needles or HIV-tainted blood in the state-run hospitals.

    Irresponsibility, expressed by the popular Russian saying “They pretend they are paying us and we pretend we are working,” resulted in appalling quality of service, widespread corruption, and extensive loss of life. My friend, a famous neurosurgeon in today’s Russia, received a monthly salary of 150 rubles ? one-third of the average bus driver’s salary.

    Horror-show, and not the good kind.

    1. So? if you like your filthy cat-piss soaked healthcare, you can keep it?

      1. Roflmao

        1. Roflmeow

          1. So, um……Gonna need to borrow u for a little while. Smart blood tastes so much better.

    2. the filth, odors, cats roaming the halls, drunken medical personnel, and absence of soap and cleaning supplies added to an overall impression of hopelessness and frustration that paralyzed the system.

      if you don’t die from lack of hope, the sepsis will definitely get you.

    3. But there are ao many Billionaires and the economy is so much better here that these things could never happen. Giving the right top men in fancy suits and pantsuits Complete control of healthcare will result in the best healthcare system ever.

      Look at the incentives. Work through college for years shelling out mad money, learning to be a doctor, only to be told how much you can make, and so on. How awesome!!! I should have been a sexy Vampire doctor. Vampire MD bitches. That’s Doctor Vampire. Oooh look, my mail says DR Vampire on it. Suck it!!!

    4. The sad thing is, you don’t even have to look that far to see abject failure. Look at the VA scandal in 2014. And who was the chair of the Senate Committee on Veteran affairs at the time? That’s right, Bernie. Gives “Feel the Bern,” an entirely different meaning.

      When even the NY Times thinks you went off the rails, you’ve really floundered as a Prog.
      http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02……html?_r=0

  5. What are bread lines, chopped liver?

    1. clearly not, no one in the bread line can afford a luxury item like liver.

  6. Hey, John, I really hope your show actually suggests *real* health care freedom.

    Like not having to get permission from a government enabled rent seeking mafia to be able to purchase medical tests, drugs, and equipment.

    1. Davis is always buying shit. I’m buying you some booze bro.

    2. The AMA, the hospitals, the drug companies, all favor government enforced monopoly. The term here should be called “rent seeking” where you exploit the advantages of monopoly to your own economic benefit. A first good step would be to repeal prescription laws (at least for non-narcotic, non-habit forming drugs).

      1. But, that means doctors would not have to write prescriptions!? Where would the people get their care? Considered that caring seems to be the lowest denominator in medical care, I see it a a win-win! But, who am I to say? I am just a, forcibly retired, general surgeon!

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  8. Who knows how long they’ll last because some butt hurt proggy will start crying wolf, but Atlas Medical has a pretty rock solid model of providing health services on the cheap. Tom Woods interviewed one of the doctors on his show. They do a monthly service fee similar to Netflix – $50 a month gets you a much, or as little care, as you want. And they completely bypass health insurance and deal directly with supply and pharmaceutical vendors. Pretty awesome point of reference, IMO, during debates and such.

  9. I get annoyed with liberals who say we need a fair healthcare system and government run is the only way to do that. As someone who spent twenty years in Uncle Sams Canoe CLub let me tell these liberals how “fair” government run healthcare is. Us average slobs E-6 and below and O-4 and below could wait up to three weeks just to get an appointment with our PCM to give us a referral to a specialist that could be three weeks to two months later. Meanwhile Admiral Smith’s wife will just walk into any clinic and be seen that day and by the specialist the next. Of course it isn’t just the elite. I have seen Chiefs get hooked up cause they know the Master Chief at the clinic so little Timmy who has a runny nose gets bumped to the head of the line. Oh and facilities will not be put where they are most needed but where the Pentagon needs to reward politicians who vote for their wishes.

    1. Liberals want that system, because by and large they see themselves getting bumped to the front of the line. Most don’t appreciate that they themselves are the peons, the serfs, and will suffer along with the unwashed masses. They think because they have the right opinions that makes them part of the club. lulz

  10. We already have 100% run government healthcare at the VA and that is going swimmingly. Why can’t progs see that and be like, holy shit, maybe there is a better way?

    1. They are not swayed by facts.

    2. And which presidential candidate had oversight of the VA?

    3. Government health care may be much more expensive and less successful covering 1/3 of the population, but Hillary is going to make that up in volume!

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  13. It’s true?Canadians and Europeans live longer. Progressives cite that to plug single payer. But it’s deceitful. Canadians live longer not because their health care system is better, but because they behave differently.

    Actually, they probably live longer because they spend less on health care, given that medical mistakes are the number three cause of death in the US.

    Beyond some threshold, spending more on health care simply doesn’t seem to help people.

    1. Canadians and Europeans live longer, on average, because they do not have a massive immigrant underclass. 3rd world lifestyles and healthcare shorten lives long before they cross the border.
      Give it another 25 years and let’s see whose average lifespan is longer.

      Or alternatively, just look at caucasian health/lifespans in Can/EU versus US.

      1. Mike, apparently you are not aware of modern day immigration patterns.

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  15. I would love a free market health system. The USA is nowhere near that. And, I cannot imagine there is any way we would ever get anything even close to that. So what are the options? One would think what we have now would not be an option. So a “single-payer” system seems worth examining in a rational way. This article perpetuates some of the silly things I hear about the Canadian system. I wish Stossel, if he wants to make a point, would get up to speed on his information.

    1. Karl Denninger: “addressing the issue means enforcing the law and ending the rip-offs in the medical “industry” — from 3% to 19% of our GDP over the last few decades. …medical expense expansion and that has been entirely caused by acts within that industry that are by any reasonable reading of 15 USC flat-out unlawful.

      Break the medical monopolies. All of them, using existing US anti-trust law. Jail executives, doctors and administrators that engage in practices that are facially in violation of existing US federal and state consumer-protection laws. That would be virtually all

      If the Federal gov’t won’t act there is nothing prohibiting Governors from doing so; they, as the head of the executive in the several states, could start issuing indictments under consumer protection laws that prohibit gouging, discriminatory pricing, delivering goods and services without a quote or exceeding quoted prices and similar, none of which contain a statutory exception for health care

      After the first handful of indictments are handed up all of this crap will stop immediately, as exactly zero of these people are willing to go to prison.

      That will collapse the cost of care, including drugs, in a dramatic fashion… cost of care would plummet by as much as 80-85%…

      if this is not done… in about five years at present rates the federal government’s funding model and thus the political system will collapse.”

  16. We will not have free market medicine until prescription laws are repealed. For those who don’t know, we didn’t have prescription laws until 1938. It was the Roosevelt administration’s creation of the FDA that brought prescription laws. Idea was that only doctors were competent enough to make such decisions regarding your health. Democrats are always claiming that people aren’t “competent” enough to make these sort of decisions, but their government licensed professionals are. Medical mistakes kill as far more people in a month as terrorists have managed all the time since 9-11-01 if not more. This is just “fatal” mistakes. Those that people managed to somehow survive is a much larger figure.

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  18. Unconstitutional…but no one cares….YET

    Virtually all of the press so far has focused on the implications for Europe. However, the scheming will have major effects on the U.S. regulatory regime as well. Among other changes, the relevant section of the agreement would force the EU to consult the U.S. government before adopting “legislative” or regulatory proposals. It would also commit U.S. authorities to consulting with Brussels before moving forward on legislation or regulatory schemes across a wide array of subject areas. The U.S. Congress and elected European bodies would then be further sidelined as the two executive branches increasingly rule Americans and Europeans by lobbyist-influenced decree.
    http://www.thenewamerican.com/…..u-s-policy

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  21. I am sure that the present system of medical care cost my mother her life. Granted, she was a 78 year old, non ambulatory, diabetic. But, she was shipped to a hospital two hours away when I am convinced she would have gotten better care closer to home at the “cancer center” forty miles away! These “gentlemen’s agreements” mean that the referrals are made more, for feeding money back to the referring doctor’s hospital system, than caring that the patients get to be nearer their family. Being a retired general surgeon, I thought it might be good to stay in the room with my mother after her surgery. (as my wife did with me and I did with my wife after surgery) But, that was not the case. We were offered lodging a couple of blocks away. But, my dad had animals that he felt he needed to drive back two hours to take care of.

    She was found, unresponsive, in her room the third post-operative day. I did not find it surprising that she was ignored all night and found dead when they decided to return to her room, early in end/start of their shift. Add to that that the Catholic medallion that my uncle had blessed by his priest was lost. The nurse on duty that fist night after the operation was more interested in getting us out of her hair. The last time I saw that medal was when my father dropped it on her neck, over all of the tubes, just before we left for that two hour drive home. That caring nurse lost it, or threw it away. Mom became another statistic!

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  25. Oh, poor, poor John Stossel. He is unable to make up his mind on which side of government run health care he wants to be. OK, so Canadians if living like people will live now as long as people in the US. The irony in this is that dollar for dollar they will live much longer, and can use their lesser payout to have more vacations. Poor John just doesn’t get it!

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