Date registered: Sep 2004
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RE: The Real Crisis: Health Care
You need to find a rational point between level of care and cost levels. This is very difficult. Thanks to huge drug R&D and massive spikes in health care technology, costs have risen enormously in the last 20 years. Okay, we have way better health care than 20 years ago, but somehow we have to pay for it.
Are the costs also rising thanks to the overuse and abuse of the system? This is something we're all grappling with, even in socialized nations. People live longer and require more intervention, but they also have poor health in the meantime thanks to poor lifestyle. Take the example of people just having the occasional MRI as part of their check-up. Insurance companies are trying to spread this cost out, but doctor ordered tests, under pressure from patients, can contribute to costs in a big way.
In Alberta, we're toying with the idea of finding incentives for healthy living. Preventative measure might make some sense. The struggle is to figure how to do it.
Also, poor people tend to have poor health. Reducing poverty might also relieve some of the burden of costs, no matter who's paying.
One thing that interests me, as an economist, is the friction in the labour market in the US that employer driven coverage has introduced. For a nation that seeks to create perfect markets, the labour market has seen a great deal of imperfection introduced. Mandatory drug testing, health care supplied to employed persons only, and so on.
I am curious about premiums. I have only one source, so I have no idea. My cousin lived as a self-employed person in California for a few years, and found non-group coverage very expensive. For his family it was over $1000 a month for comprehensive coverage. Can an unemployed (or employed where they have no coverage) family really buy full coverage for the cost of a monthly cable bill? Our cable bill is about $40 a month. I know some people that are employees, and the portion of their premium not covered by their employer is hundreds of dollars a month. I would like to relay to them the plan that is $40 a month.
One reason most first-world nations have gone to a socailized system is the realization that economic disaster is the result of illness. The consensus post WWII was that massive economic failure of individuals was a detriment to society as a whole, contributing greatly to the boom/bust cycle and could lead to another depression. Social policy (unemployment insurance plans and welfare) were originally designed not out of the goodness of our hearts, but to provide a stable economic base for first-world development. Socialized health care was a part of that strategy.
I'm really trying to see things from your perspective, but I'm having trouble getting my head up my ass