Tag Archives: Single Payer

Why Does Health Care Cost So Much?

The United States consistently ranks as one of the lowest advanced nations when it comes to health care.  To add further to the poor ranking of the US is the fact that we spend so much more money on our medical care than do other nations.  In terms of GDP, we outpace most, if not all, nations in the world.  We simply spend too much money.

The cost of medical care is one of the driving forces behind the call for this reform.  And for the most part, I’m all for that.  Generally speaking, reducing the amount of money we spend for a service or product is a good thing.  A good thing with one caveat:  Unless spending more on that thing is reported incorrectly.

For instance, suppose I enjoy minor league baseball.  And I spend $200 this year but will end up spending $400 next.  That can sound like a bad thing.  Unless, of course, it really means I went to twice as many games, in which case it’s a GREAT thing!

So, what are we spending all this money on and how can we fix it?

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Thought Experiment

Okay, okay.  For a second, close your eyes and follow along.


Doesn’t work in this medium.

Read this and THEN close your eyes and think through the scenarios.

Or whatever.

Consider dinner.  Fine dining at a fancy schmancy restaurant.

Over the course there will be 1000 people served.  They can come in tables of 2 or or 4.  1 or more even.  Doesn’t matter.  Now, consider these two scenarios:

  1. The price of dinner will be carried by the individual.  That is, when the meal is over, the waiter will bring the check.  One check for each individual.
  2. The price of dinner will be carried by the group.  That is, when the meal is over, the waiter will charge the account.  When all 1000 people have eaten, the total bill will be divided by 1000 and each person will recieve a bill in the mail.

These two methods of payment are going to cover the cost of the whole experience.  Appetizers, desserts, cocktails and even valet parking – heck, coat check too.

Now, here is the question:

Under which scenario would you expect the restaurant to sell more desserts in?

How about appetizers?

For extra credit, explain your answer.

A Real Medical Care Solution

Remember the bad old days?  Back before AT&T was split up?  See, prior to 1984, the government required certain services from AT&T.  In exchange for providing these services, the government allowed AT&T to operate in a near monopoly.  [notice that without the government enacting certain regulations, AT&T would not have been able to construct such a monopoly on it’s own.]  After that divestiture, AT&T was forced to compete and guess what happened?

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Keith Olbermann is a Big Fat Liar

I held off on this for a while.  Olbermann is talking about some very personal and painful experiences and I wasn’t sure it was appropriate to politicize this.  Then I realized that he already had.

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When the Government Rations

Do you wanna know what happens when the government, through fiat, controls a market?  It rations the service or product.  And what the government sees as a cost, the private sector sees as an investment.  And what do you get?

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Do You Ever Wonder?

Do you ever wonder why the Liberal,  claiming to represent the common man, derides Sarah Palin for being common?

Do you ever wonder why the Liberal, claiming to represent the poorest of us, guarantees that those very people can find no work by raising the minimum wage above what that person can produce?

Do you ever wonder why the Liberal, claiming to want to extend coverage to more Americans, wants to make that coverage more expensive?

If you have, then this video is for you:

Hat tip:  American Elephants

This Is What It Will Look Like

A foretaste of the feast too come:

LOS ANGELES – It was bound to happen: Some people who aren’t at high risk for swine flu complications got the much-in-demand vaccine.

Sometimes they were healthy adults or senior citizens instead of kids, pregnant women and people with health problems.

Before Los Angeles County health officials stepped up screening at their flu clinics, Natalie Thompson sailed through the long line and got the vaccine along with her 8-year-old son, even though she’s not in one of the priority groups.

“If I can get it, I’m not gonna say no,” said Thompson, 35, of Hollywood Hills.

Another mom, Katy Radparvar, didn’t say no either.

“Our doctor doesn’t have it yet,” said the 41-year-old woman who was vaccinated along with her three children at a public health vaccination site in suburban Encino last week.

Public health officials don’t want to be vaccine police. Many don’t turn anyone away who wants the vaccine, though some locations are tougher than others.

“For many this is a frustrating process and we really sympathize with those who show up at a clinic and can’t get vaccinated,” said Los Angeles County public health director Dr. Jonathan Fielding.

Across the country, thousands have waited in line and many have been turned away, as manufacturers have trickled out the slow-to-produce vaccine. Things are improving, and now about 25 million doses are available, the government says.

Aware of scant supplies up front, Santa Barbara County clinics administered their 4,400 shots to pregnant women only. San Diego County is only immunizing those on the priority list, but is taking the word of residents.

Look, it’s simple.  Like anything in this world, there is never enough of it to satisfy everyone’s desire for it at full capacity.  That is, if free, there would never be enough Coke, gasoline, tennis shoes or hair brushes.  Medical care is the same.  And when organizing a nation, that fact should not escape anyone; especially the leaders.  The hard thing to acknowledge is that we know people will get sick.  Some people will die.

The good news is that medical technology will continue to hum along generating new and better services and techniques that will cure or heal people today that a mere five years ago would have been fatal.  And you simply HAVE to take solace in that.

Crossing the Line

Okay, so the Fox News folks are a little defensive because Obama tried to bar them from an interview.  It was nice to see Obama lose that by the way.  But really, at some point the battle between news source and political theory has to stop.  And I think that Fox News may have done that today.

fox stop pelosi care

I just don’t think that Fox should be campaigning to “Stop Obamacare”.

The Price of Free Health Care

See, that’s not fair.  Everyone knows there’s no such thing as free health care.  Heck, we know there isn’t free anything.  So, what has to happen for health care to be made available to every citizen in America?  Well, it has to be paid for.  And who would pay for it?  Well, we would simply raise taxes to cover the costs.  And could we do this?  Yes, almost for sure.  To be equally sure, we would have to raise the taxes so high that even Democrats would puke.  So instead we’ll raise them just some.  And what does this get us?  A system in debt.

We have all heard that America is ranked something like 37th in the world [based on the metrics used to determine this, I think that we are really ranked #1, but why quibble].  The club that we are beaten with is “If we spend all this money on health care, why do we only get a return that ranks us 37th?  The other club, my second favorite, is “We are the only industrial nation that doesn’t have some form of universal health care.”

Let’s look at the cost those other nations have to pay.  I like GDP PPP [that is purchasing power parity].  Basically, this is a measure of the “quality of economic life” in a given country or State.  Using this measure you can compare the purchasing power of people living in North Carolina and Minnesota for example.  Of of people living in Sweden and Germany.

So, these nations that are providing medical care to all of their citizens–how do they rank in GDP PPP?  Poorly.  Very poorly.  In fact, according to one study, if you took the nations of Spain, Portugal and Greece and granted them statehood in the United States, they would immediately become the 1st, 2nd and 3rd poorest states in the Union.

Italy, Finland, Denmark, France and the UK?  Make them states instead?  They would become the 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th poorest States in America.  In fact, you could take the whole of the European Union and make it a State.  It would be the 5th poorest State right behind Arkansas and Montana.


When we turn to consider the impact of economic policy on growth, it is hard not to
notice that one particular factor above all is essentially different in large parts of Europe
compared with the USA, namely the expansion of the political sphere in general and
taxes and the size of the public sector in particular.


So, if we simply worked at letting medical care exist like any other commodity, we would find that America would:

  1. Have more money than any other nation to spend on health care.
  2. See the real cost of that care go down.

What Happens When Government Restricts Competition

Do you know what happens when the government restricts competition?  Yeah, um, you get less competition.  Weird that works out that way.  But some people actually think that when the government restricts competition and you get less competition, that the only answer is to have government compete.  Huh?  Confused?  Me too.

But this is real life and this is what we get:

“There is a serious problem with the lack of competition among insurers,” said Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine, one of the highest-cost states. “The impact on the consumer is significant.”

Wellpoint Inc. accounted for 71 percent of the Maine market, while runner-up Aetna had a 12 percent share, according to a 2008 report by the American Medical Association.

So, lemme get this straight.  Wellpoint has the market i Maine to the point that it can charge almost anything it wants and the REST of the insurance world stays out of Maine because?  Because…..?  They don’t wanna make money?  I have to believe there is another reason Wellpoint is the only player in Maine.

I’ll betcha a candy bar.