Thursday, 23 October 2008
|1531 - Health care is not a basic human right|
A friend posted the following line: "It's [health care] considered a basic human right, as it should be, no one should profit from it."
Sorry, but when you reason from fundamental fallacies, the result is also fallacious.
I know that lots of folks in other countries think it's a basic human right. The problem is simple: Taking that to its logical conclusion has people being forced to provide it to others at gunpoint. Health care costs money, not just in labor, but in capital equipment and supplies and research and many, many other expenses. Health care is hideously expensive when you add it all up. Who's going to pay for all that? Government? Government pays for nothing. Everything that comes from the government is paid for by money extracted from its citizens at gunpoint.
The US has the finest health care system in the world, and it got that way because people can make a profit from selling equipment and supplies and labor. People routinely come from countries that have government-run health care to places like the Texas Heart Institute and the Mayo Clinic to get treatment. They also go to facilities all over the US to get treatment that they can't get, or have to wait years for, at home.
Our system works. There are folks who it does not serve well, but there are also hungry people, and homeless people. Nobody owes anyone health care, just as nobody owes anyone food, or shelter, or anything else that constitutes "a living". To try to force society into that mold is inherently evil, because it's founded on a base of armed robbery.
I know this sounds cruel and heartless. The other way is, too: it forces people into slavery to support others. There is no "good" answer. I choose to maximize human freedom, rather than take from others at gunpoint to support myself.
current mood: disappointed
A right incurs no obligation unto any other person.
Actually, I think our system is falling apart badly. The folks who are actually making money in the medical business are the one who handle all of the paperwork. Insurance typically pays about 30% of what the doctor/facility actually bills. If you have insurance, a big if for a lot of the middle class these days, you're in good shape. If you don't, you're going to be stuck paying the whole amount. To make things much worse, not only are quite a few folks unemployed and have no insurance, quite a few are contract or temp workers who also don't have any insurance. In fact American business continues to move away from actually having employees to contracting out work so they don't have to pay any sort of pesky benefits.
So, I maintain that our system is fundamentally broken. Perhaps not as badly as in other countries, but still broken. Please bring back actual market pricing to healthcare.
"If you don't, you're going to be stuck paying the whole amount."
There was an interval during which I was uninsured. I had to go visit my cardiologist, and was told "If you pay cash, we'll take 40% off your bill." It was, fortunately, little enough that I could do so, so I was fortunate in that respect--but gee, I wouldn't mind getting 40% discounts in general.
"If you pay cash, we'll take 40% off your bill."
A large portion of the increased cost of the medical bill is for the bureaucracy to "save you money."
Some doctors in the middle part of Florida recently dropped all insurance/Medicare/Medicaid billing and now charges a flat rate for procedures. I saw an interview with him that said one day he was doing payroll, and realized that he had more billing personnel than he had nurses and techs. More people to do the books than to care for people, and that's when he said "That's enough". A visit costs $35, IIRC (or did). Various procedures and the like are posted with their cost. If you've got insurance, that's great, *you* file the paperwork and deal with it.
He's apparently making more money now. And is much happier. And the reporter writing the story said that they had yet to find anyone unhappy with the service, but some people in the waiting room weren't happy dealing with their insurance companies, and said that was really hard to do and frustrating. (Which is a huge hidden cost with the current system. But most people know of it, because they hate trying to deal with insurance.)
A very large problem with the current medical system and punditry is that most people do not understand that they are not customers. (Even with the problem of calling a patient a customer.)
They are healthcare consumers. Someone else negotiated prices, schedules, fees, allowable procedures and will be paying the bill to the person doing the work. They're consuming healthcare, but they're not buying it.
Most of the people calling for a "right" to healthcare cannot explain that to you - and there's a major reason why they will utterly fail in any "fix" they propose to the system. They can't accurately model what it is now.
"But the poor people are starving because there is no bread..."
"Let them eat cake."
Right. Very humane of you, Jay. I'm utterly unimpressed now.
I didn't say that. What I said is that governments should not attempt to provide solutions. Government is not the answer to this kind of problem, and trying to force it into that mold leads inevitably to the failure that is nanny-state socialism.
That does not mean that others should not do their best to help out those who truly cannot help themselves. I find it significant that it's been shown that conservatives donate more to charity by quite a bit than liberals. That's because conservatives believe that such efforts are properly the part of the private sector.
Who's saying that?
Saying government should not be in the business of taking some people's resources with the threat of force to give to others is not the same thing as saying nobody should give to others.
(In that context, it's curious to note that Senator Biden gave an average of $410 per year to charity over the past nine years, compared to Governor Palin, who gave an average of $4,053 per year over the same interval, despite having to support five children and making considerably less than Biden; more info here
. It's easy to be generous with other people's money.)
He said the very opposite of that famous quote.
The part about "Let them eat cake" was an assumption that if the cheap bread was gone, the Bakers could then give cake for the same price as the lesser bread. Or, in other words, less than it cost them to make it.
That the people had a right to bread.
The reason for the food shortages was the concept that the prices could not rise, that people had a "right" to inexpensive food, no matter what the costs were.
And so the farmers stopped selling grain to the bakers under what it cost them to make it and then the bakers stopped baking bread they'd have to sell for under what it cost them ... And for a while, the luxury items, the ones where the costs weren't regulated (like cake) were (according to the story) available.
Until the bakers were ordered to sell that at the cost they couldn't produce bread for.
No, Jay has not said that.
But "Let them eat cake" is the exact thought pattern of those who call "health care" a "right".
It really does irritate me immensely when people can't understand the difference between a right and an entitlement. unix_jedi
already summed it up quite well.
But frankly, that is a fairly basic tenent of political science. How on earth can someone be passionate about politics and yet so ignorant about the fundamentals of it at the same time? Do people not seem to understand that it's a really good idea to read up and at least get acquainted with the basics of one's interests?
I am also "cruel and heartless", but there are two things that I am annoyed with here - one, that health care is not a particularly great expense in systems with socialised health care so it's an odd one to worry about. If you want to complain about the government robbing you, better to complain that they're robbing you to pay for pissing off other countries, private jets, etc. One thing I actually quite like about socialised healthcare is that (a bit strangely) it tends to appear separate from tax. It does in Australia and the UK anyway. You pay for it at the same time, and in the same way, but the number is shown right there. If only everything were broken down that way, "here's the portion of your tax that pays the wages of immigration bureaucrats, here's the portion that pays for the IRS auditing you..."
The other thing that annoys me is the claim that the US has the finest health care system in the world, based on other people going there for treatment. It is equally true that US citizens "routinely" go to Mexico, Canada, China and Switzerland for specific treatment (that's just those I am aware of, I'm sure there's others).
I would tentatively accept that the US has one of the best high-end surgery-based medical establishments for the expensive treatment of relatively rare conditions. It has a very poor system for dealing with day-to-day diagnosis and minor treatments. I've lived there, Australia and the UK, and seen Canada's medical establishment in action, and for the sort of routine thing I encounter, the US is the worst of the four - and actually costing more with insurance paying than equivalent treatment in Australia cost with no medicare contribution (because I hadn't been there long enough to be covered), for example.
"They also go to facilities all over the US to get treatment that they can't get, or have to wait years for, at home" seems unlikely - again, my three example countries, there's private medical treatment available in all of them, so there is no "have to wait years" resulting from socialised healthcare. In the worst case, where the NHS wait time is intolerably long (which is much rarer than Americans think) it would still be cheaper to go to a private institute and pay for treatment than to go to the US, where a UK citizen won't have insurance, and pay for treatment there - the treatment in the UK will be cheaper without the insurance-inflated prices the US has, and you'd save on the plane tickets too. (And there are years-long wait times for some things in the US too, which I believe is what occasionally drives people to go to Mexico for treatment. Not to mention the year-long battles with insurance to get them to pay out for any major procedure.)
Note that I'm not arguing with your core point, that health care isn't a basic human right and governments shouldn't force it on us. I'm just saying the US system at the moment is worse, with employers forcing bad insurance on you with no option to "just take the money", it's like a hidden tax that's paying more for less than a state-run health insurance would provide. The only thing better of the US way is if you're self-employed and wouldn't use medical services anyway you can opt out of the system entirely.