Monday, August 13

On Wisconsin Healthcare

I wrote this without really intending to post it here. I was starting to get disturbed by the blind belief in the recent state health care proposal.

I find this Wisconsin medical insurance law disgusting. There are a few major problems with it that people seem to not even be able to understand. Wisconsin is not going to magically turn into the land of milk and honey no matter how high they raise the taxes to pay for it.

For starters, 45 million people sounds like a lot, yet it is only 15% of the people in this country of 300 million. Why are we cutting down the 85% of people who are able to get coverage for themselves to match the unsuccessful 15%?

First of all, since Wisconsin will be paying for your medical bills, the state now has a vested interest seeing that you stay as healthy as possible. People seem to swallow silly cigarette taxes and bans, but that is just the start of us losing our freedom. They will tax and ban everything that's bad: fried foods, candy, soda, alcohol...driving a car, not exercising. We will lose our liberty and freedom of choice. You may say that we're safer though. Why don't they just wrap each of us up in bubble wrap and be done with it?

Secondly, they budget for only so much. They, just like every other country with socialized medicine, especially Canada and Britain, will draw up a list of how many of each procedure they can afford to perform. X number of heart surgeries, Y number of cancer treatments this year. If it's October and they just performed the last budgeted organ transplant and you need one, guess what happens.

Thirdly, anything that is perceived as free is wasted. Since it doesn't cost anything to the people, as far as they perceive, people will start going to the ER every time they get a boo-boo or something hurts or their baby sneezes. That's already been going on with low co-pays and whatnot. It will get worse as healthcare turns into the newest example of the proverbial "Tragedy of the Commons" as everyone races to try to get his fair share of healthcare out of the pot.

Remember back to grade school. I remember people who made trips to the nurse all the time 'because their tummy hurts' and all sorts of stuff. I only went once to the nurse in 13 years of public school, K-12, when I broke my finger in gym class. If they charged kids even a dollar or two for each visit, then the chronic complainers would stop blocking up the nurses office for the people who actually need it.

Furthermore, if there is a shortage of doctors right now with only 85% of the country having access to them, then when 100% of the people are covered, then they'll get 18% (100/85) more busy! Not to mention that the State will soon start regulating the salaries of doctors in order to keeps its costs down, which will encourage people to be doctors in other states if at all. Fixing the problem through government will only make the problem worse, causing the need for more government and so on it snowballs.

Now, I don't complain about something unless I offer solutions. The state of Wisconsin should definitely not provide any kind of health anything. The state (and federal government) should eliminate as much regulation as possible on the medical industry. The shortage of doctors is because the American Medical Assoc. has a monopoly. They are not a doctors' union, rather they control how many open spots per year there are in medical schools and how many can then practice. Their incentive is to keep that number as small as possible to create a shortage to raise doctors' salaries (supply and demand).

On a side note, people are trying to get around the artificially small opening via fields like chiropractics. One of the coaches at my high school was one, and I'm sure he and many of them would make fine enough doctors, but they can't and didn't ever have the opportunity to go to medical school for doctors, which a free market would have allowed them--chiropractor school is under different, freer regulations.

Moreover, Wisconsin needs to allow people the option to practice whatever profession they want without a license--make requiring a license optional. Now, upon first consideration, you may find it disgusting to think that whoever wants to, can set up shop and claim to be a doctor. Well, they should be. First of all, if it's important to you ask to see the doctor's credentials. A license should mean that whoever, a barber or a doctor, has at least enough skill to be recognized by the state as competent, but if you want to save money and take a chance on an unlicensed doctor (or barber, or teacher, or real estate agent, or lawyer), you're free to.

As an example, perhaps then a nurse with a few years of experience who knows enough about what to do with people who walk in sick, can then open up a small clinic for sick people, or for physicals, then medical capacity increases and the price decreases.

I am an engineering student. Would you believe there are few if any government regulations concerning engineering and the country operates just fine? (For all the things we design, build, and make in this country, so few things go wrong that it's big news when they do.) We have several professional organizations that have boards, mainly old and retired engineers, that draw up books of our own standards and regulations completely free of the government. If something does break, then we are legally held to those standards in court.

No matter how much kool-aid you drink, the government and the bureaucracy cannot do a better job than the market. The government does not create anything (except for long lines, space shuttles, and atomic bombs [and we all know how that worked out]); it only moves around wealth at an alarmingly inefficient rate.

I'm sure all of you have been to a sporting event, whether professional, collegiate, or high school. Have you ever seen a referee who thinks he is a player? Those games always go the worst. In real life, we, the people, along with businesses are the players. The government is instituted to be the referee. Our problems of today have all be created in the last 70 years when the government decided that it is not just the referee, it should be actively involved in shaping how things turn out.

As John Stossel says, at the least Wisconsin is going to show the rest of the country why control is a bad idea. Too bad we have to take one for the team, I guess. (Heh, that's altruism for 'ya.)

If they say Wisconsin has a brain drain now, wait until this gets implemented. People will run screaming for the nearest state line. Of course, there are some idealistic people who will move in, along with everyone else in the country with a chronic or costly ailment seeking treatment. People will start washing up on Michigan's west coast in old rusted cars and on other assorted pool accessories. (Okay, maybe not that last sentence.) I, along with other productive people and businesses, will be promptly taking our leave from this state. I'll be gone as soon I graduate.

If they implement this and the state goes to hell in a handbasket, they will never repeal it. Old laws never die.

It makes more sense to me that Wisconsin should provide auto insurance before it even starts to deal with health insurance. It's against the law in the state to drive without auto insurance! They should at least give people a decent solution since they created the problem in the first place. (Note: I'm not suggesting they should provide any kind of insurance.)


Dorshorst said...

Not everyone without health care is too poor to afford it. There is a significant portion of them who just don't want to pay for it.

Hospitals can not currently refuse to treat people without insurance. So instead of clogging up clinics every time they get a boo boo or their baby sneezes, they clog up the E.R.s. And the costs get passed on to everyone else. I assume you would like to eliminate this law.

Health Care or no, I would hope the state has an interest in keeping me healthy. And for me, being healthy is enough incentive for me to be healthy. I could smoke, load my diet with junk food, and not exercise, but I'd rather not die before the age of 40. I actually oppose cigarette taxes because they are meant to control behavior and unfairly impact the poor.

I do agree with you that there needs to be some sort of mechanism to prevent people from abusing the system. My suggestion would be to fix a deductible to a percentage of your income. You would have to pay for all those unnecessary visits to the doctor, but you would be covered for emergencies.

I strongly support the idea of universal health care because I believe poor or no health care is one of the things that keeps poor people poor. But that's a philosophical argument unrelated to it's practicality.

Tim said...

The shortage of doctors is because the American Medical Assoc. has a monopoly. They are not a doctors' union, rather they control how many open spots per year there are in medical schools and how many can then practice. Their incentive is to keep that number as small as possible to create a shortage to raise doctors' salaries (supply and demand).'s salaries are highly inflated. I too like the idea of ending the mandatory licensing practice.