Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Free healthcare isn't

You know, i usually don't blog these things, but here is a interesting article about a widow of a vietnam vet who spent his remaining years in a state-run home because he was not ambulatory. Then he dies and they say to her "you owe us $300,000" Well, i'm omitting facts, read the article. Anyway the point is the state is saying because its Medicaid, they are entitled to half of his assets. Her point of view is that 'well he's a vietnam vet, the healthcare should be free'. And their point of view is 'medicaid isn't free, someone has to pay it'.

And i think that's really the problem. People expect *free* healthcare, and it isn't, and won't be, ever. We'll pay for it. If we go with a socialized healthcare plan under obama, I can honestly predict several things.

1) Reimbursements to docs will plummet. Okay, they make too much money you say. Well, they spend 10 years of their life heavily in debt, working their asses off, to get to be able to treat you. That deserves compensation (on the other hand I worked my ass off for ten years in a similiar field, and I'm not going to get anything out of it). So if salary plummets, so will the quality of the pool, because if a doc is just going to be a plumber, the smart people will do other things besides wasting their time in that industry.

2) Medical innovation will dry up. The reason why we spend so much on healthcare, one reason, is that we pay for innovation. ALl the new machines? We pay for them, and they are spread throughout the world. All the new drugs? Ditto. If reimbursables slide, there will not be as much incentive to innovate here. This is not totally true, espcially for big companies like GE or Siemens, with big insturments, or big drug cos. However by and large it takes so much work to get by the FDA, it's hard to get approved everywhere. So you get approved here first, then take your product global if it's profitable. Also, there is a huge industry in small biotech here in the U.S., in the end funded by the expectation of profits from patient care. Well, if medicine is socialized, then what would happen?

Anyway those are my thoughts. I think we do need to do something; costs are getting ridiculous. Maybe the pace of innovation should decrease. Maybe we should stop spending billions to get one drug to market (then have to recoop those billions in a ten year period). By and large, however, the main problem is people expect free healthcare to be free. I just can't see the govt doing something better than a free market. I'd love to be proven wrong though.

1 comment:

azgma said...

Good point, and I agree! Nothing is EVER free. You pay one way or another!