Socialized Health Care Candy

Excellent post today at the Mises Institute making an excellent analogy between “free” sweets in socialized Yugoslavia, when he was there as a boy, and “free” emergency care in socialized heath care in other countries.

Here’s the link: Health Care and the Candy Store Called Socialism

 

In the US, if you wake up with a sore throat and call the doctor, they will usually be able to get you in to see him today. So you go in, pay your co-pay, see the doctor, and maybe get a prescription and told to call back if it isn’t cleared up in a few days. You’re happy, the doctor’s made money, the pharmacy’s made money and you get better in a few days. Problem solved.

If you call your doctor in most of the socialized health care countries, you might be able to get in sometime in the next month. So you don’t bother calling the doctor and the sore throat usually goes away in a few days anyway. No money spent, but you still get better.

US health care costs more with the same outcome. But since we’re not paying much directly out of our own pocket, we way overuse it. Sounds more like an over-insured problem to me, not the lack of available care. Insurance is for risk management, not every day or expected maintenance.

Let’s take a more serious example now. Say you’re in a friendly game of basketball and overextend an arm and get hit at the same time. Your shoulder hurts like hell and you can’t hardly move it. Either place, you go to the ER and get a cold pack and prescription for pain meds with instructions to call the doctor if it’s not better in a few days.

A few days go by and it’s not any better.

Here, we call the doctor and either get in that day or the next. The doctor sets you up for a CT scan that afternoon and finds a nasty rotator cuff tear. Two days later you’re in surgery and get it fixed. It costs you a good $500 or so all told, but you’re not hurting any more, the doctor’s happy, the hospital’s happy, big smiles all around.

Elsewhere, you call the doctor and get in a month or so down the road. Then you get scheduled for the CT scan, but the next opening isn’t for another 6 weeks. You get the scan and they find the same rotator cuff tear and put you on the waiting list for the surgery. That’s another few months. But hey, it didn’t cost you a penny and, long term, you have the same health outcome. The tear is fixed.

How much is all those months waiting in pain worth to you? You have to decide that for yourself. If you find yourself on Medicaid or one of the new “narrow” providers pool, you might be finding yourself in effectively socialized health care waiting lines already.

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Posted in Around The Web, Economics, Health Care.