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Tomas Gallucci

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Random Thoughts [Apr. 7th, 2012|10:18 am]
Tomas Gallucci
Having to budget for everything–even if it's just $40–and not spending the money until it's accounted for in a budget…what a concept!

Health insurance is not the same thing as healthcare. One gives you a ticket to stand in line, the other is services rendered. ford_prefect42 makes a great point that

If 75% of the populace cannot afford a certain good or service, then society itself cannot afford to provide that good or service. Continuing to provide all this "everything to everyone, and damn the cost, because no one should ever die because of {sneeringly}money" will inevitably result in mass deaths, on truly frightening levels.

My own personal theory is that the reason healthcare costs so much is a circular process: breakthroughs cost time and money to research. Furthermore, training takes a lot longer now than it did even 30 years ago. There is more to learn because more has been discovered.

A transaction only occurs if both parties think they are getting something of comparable value from the other party. For instance, I would not buy a Dell computer because I don't think it's worth my money. In contrast, my mother still thinks that she would have to re-learn how to use a computer if she were to switch to a Macintosh. To this day, she refuses to purchase an Apple product, even thought she would be able to accomplish the tasks (photo management, backup, etc.) with little to no resistance thus making her life a happier one because she could spend more time doing the things she wants to do rather than lamenting that only those in the know can accomplish these tasks.

So too it is with healthcare. If a healthcare professional renders a service, that costs time and money. Time was spent in the years of training to acquire those skills, especially in the case of a specialist. Additionally, the building where medicine is practiced in costs money to own or rent. The electricity costs money, etc.

No one becomes a doctor altruistically, even if they claim they want to go in to medicine to help people. If helping people didn't provide some kind of value–even non-monetary value–there wouldn't be a segment of the population that would willingly enter into the healthcare profession. Why would you endure the high cost of the education, the years spent obtaining that education only to be pissed on literally and figuratively in the office, in popular culture and in the press?

It doesn't make sense. Altruism doesn't offer a satisfactory answer to this question; neither does the most extreme case of masochism.

So then, the training costs time and money, the equipment costs money, the assets employed in this business costs money. And then there's the staff that need to be hired, both professional (nurses) and not-so-professional (non-biological waste specialist janitors).

Because the product of healthcare has a high demand–who in their right mind doesn't want to be healthy?–economics tells us that if supply is held constant, the price will be higher as demand increases. But if the supply is sufficiently low–if healthcare is a scarce resource, holding demand constant will lead to a higher price, the more scare healthcare becomes.

What happens to price if demand is high and supply is low? $$$$$

Last century when humanity finally started crawling out of ignorance in medicinal science, doctors started charging a premium for their service, just like any other business would. Why? Because in capitalism, a person capitalizes on an market in hopes of making a profit.

Suddenly, doctors had more money than the mythical "Average Joe". That wasn't fair! Damn the fact that greed SOB of a doctor dared to pay for his education in both time and money, resources that could have been spent earning less money per unit of time during the training period, without incurring the debt or debit of the cost of the education.

Average Joe wasn't happy with the fact that someone had something he didn't. In response, he filed a complaint against a physician, claiming that the physician was a charlatan selling snake oil as a cure all or that the physician abused his abilities in an attempt to play God (despite the fact that God had already been outlawed…despite the First Amendment) or that the physician wasn't God or the miracle worker the patient thought the physician was.

In response to constantly being battered by negligence and malpractice lawsuits, physicians pooled their resources and created malpractice insurance to ease the pain of such litigation. But those premium payments don't pay themselves, nor do the checked written for the premiums come out of thin air. As a cost of doing business, the physician passed on the cost to his customer…which made the price of practicing medicine go up, which made the cost of healthcare go up.

In response to that, consumers pooled their resources together to lower the out-of-pocket cost of obtaining healthcare. But as for the physician, so too for the patient. Those premium payments don't pay themselves, nor do the checked written for the premiums come out of thin air. In response to yet rising costs, the public demanded the government step in and regulate healthcare.

But those regulations meant new rules and so-called standards that had to be met. Inspections had to be performed. New certifications were required. These regulations cost the taxpayer.

The taxpayer paid for the committees to draft the regulations. The taxpayer paid for the capital and resources necessary for the government to derive these intrusions into the free market. And the taxpayer continues to pay for inspectors, new regulations to be made, etc.

So demand increases, but people can't afford the price because they live on credit and don't save money for things like their health. Medical school tuition rises and thus it costs more to become a doctor. Government regulation increases thus making the industry more inefficient. The taxpayer pays once for government actions, once for litigation, once for insurance and once again when it comes time for services to actually be rendered.

And yet, people wonder why healthcare costs are through the roof.

We must systematically increase our work of organizing the village school teachers in order to transform them from the bulwark of the bourgeois system that they still are in all capitalist countries without exception into the bulwark of the Soviet system, in order, through their agency, to win the peasantry away from their alliance with the bourgeoisie and to bring them into alliance with the proletariat.

I wonder if Our Dear Leader, Supreme Dictator for Life, His Royal Majesty, Lord Barack Hussein Obama, The Most Merciful feels the same way. As a Community Organizer, I'm sure that he can also be an effective manager. After all, we've got to do something about all that Rightwing Extremism.

[User Picture]From: prester_scott
2012-04-07 11:28 am (UTC)
Health insurance is not the same thing as healthcare.

It's rare to hear even "rightwing extremists" saying this. I think this is because freedom terrifies most everyone, everywhere on the political spectrum. And that means we are in big, big trouble.
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[User Picture]From: schpydurx
2012-04-07 11:36 am (UTC)
Thanks for stopping by!

And that reminds me, I there's something I need to add to the discussion: my thoughts on why Healthcare is so outrageously priced.

But yeah, if in the debate we totally lose sight of the fact that healthcare and insurance aren't the same thing, then how can we have a constructive debate? If the facts no longer matter, the outcome is about who has the most political clout or which side could win a civil war, and all because we as humans have made the concept of critical thinking obsolete.
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[User Picture]From: schpydurx
2012-04-07 12:12 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: ehowton
2012-04-10 10:11 am (UTC)
Exhaustive. The only caution I would offer is allowing your perspective of altruism to color your hypothesis.
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