I guess I’m smarter than a 5th grader. Or at least I’m smarter than a professor emeritus of medicine and social medicine at Harvard Medical School and former editor in chief of the New England Journal of Medicine. Dr. Arnold Relman might know plenty about health care, but nothing about health care economics.
A Radio Vice Online reader sent us the following…
Take a break from spouting “free market” myths and read the following letter on your show.
Free market myths? We come up with facts – backed up by solid economic theory and history – and the best proponents of government-run universal health care can do is say the free market does not work? Hogwash. We do not have a free market system when it comes to health care.
Jeff Jacoby believes it “should be left to the market’’ to decide what benefits are covered by health insurance. Medical care is not a commodity in trade to be selected by shoppers, like ordinary goods and services in a commercial market. If there is one lesson to be learned from the dismal failure of the private medical system in the United States, it is that market forces don’t care about medical needs. Anyone who has ever been seriously ill or injured knows that.
The “key to healthcare reform’’ is not “lively competition,’’ as he asserts, but a sensible government program that offers everyone the protection they need, and ensures that a properly organized, private, not-for-profit medical care delivery system is in place to provide services according to medical needs.
Jacoby seems to think medical care is a business, but it is not. It is an essential social service that requires collective (i.e., government) support and should be the primary responsibility of dedicated, not-for-profit medical professionals and not-for-profit medical care facilities.
There are multiple problems with Relman’s position and I will not stand for his ignorance and accept any of his premises since they are wrong.
I believe in the free market, and we don’t have one in health care now. There are so many state and federal programs out there (hundreds) to provide care via government-funded programs, the so-called private system is not private. Health insurance companies are pulling IT professionals off projects intended to improve quality and service levels for members and putting them on regulatory projects to ensure the company meets federal and state regulations so they are SOX compliant. (I’m serious.)
The free market would work. If there is a demand for a service and a reasonable profit to be made health care providers and insurance companies would provide the service at the lowest reasonable cost and the highest justifiable quality.
Relman and our reader clearly think health care should be provided by not-for-profit organizations and/or the government. Readers, tell me… how much profit is too excessive? If there is no profit involved, will people be willing to buy stock in pharmacutical companies and research organizations who create products and services to enrich people’s lives?
Hell no. They will put their investment dollars in Apple (APPL) with a net profit margin of 14.88 percent. You know it Dr. Relman. You can forget about advances in cancer treatments and heart disease – no funding will exist.
Good of the collective my ass.
We have fantastic health care here in the United States. The statement that the United States health care system has been a dismal failure is completely false. None of the government run plans are better than the so called private system.
Since he thinks health care is an “essential social service”, what about food production? Water production and delivery? Fuel oil for heating homes? Electricity to cool homes? I assume all of those services should be run by “not for profit” organizations?
Want to see food production dry up around the world? Make it a not-for-profit “essential social service.”
I know – it feels good and your emotions tell you everyone should be taken care of. It does not work that way and will never work that way. I’m trying to slap you all into reality here!
Then there is the little pesky problem of the United States Constitution – completely ignored by all pundits – which gives no authority for the federal government to do any of this in the first place.
But, as readers of my blog know, I have a solution to put on the table. Get the federal government completely out of the health care business and leave all responsibilities to the states.
Some states may choose to provide universal coverage, some states may choose to provide zero coverage but encourage health care providers and insurance companies to come in and provide the service. Some may provide a little of both.
States will compete to find the best solution – the free market at work.
Why when I bring this up, do liberals walk away?