More Health Care Than You Know What to Do With
Well not really. But, while a bit old, this is an interesting article about health care and Gammon’s Law.
The recent troubles at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., are putting the shortcomings of government-run health care on display.
Former Gov. Mitt Romney is finding that his not-yet-implemented plan for universal health care in Massachusetts is plagued by rising cost estimates, almost doubling the initial predicted premiums.
And David Walker of the Government Accountability Office has issued a dire warning about the future of our nation, destined to be sunk by the sheer weight of the behemoth Medicare system. Medicare responds by lowering its fees to the actual providers of health care.
But if we can get just the right policy, and just the right people, in just the right place…why everything will work out juuuuust fine.
Walter Reed demonstrates Gammon’s Law perfectly. The system has evolved whereby a soldier is required to file 22 documents with eight different commands, most off-post, to enter and exit the medical processing world. Sixteen different information systems are used to process the forms. The Army has amassed three different personnel databases that cannot communicate with each other. People with “safe” government jobs run the outpatient center, a rat- and roach-infested, filthy, moldy deteriorated building. Since “free” care is provided, the veterans are expected to shut up, hold their noses, and wait. One cannot blame the VA employees, most of whom are eager to do a good job, but are helpless to change the “system.”
Yeah, quit your griping, it is free after all.
The only way to combat this is to get the government out of health care. Government provides a protected environment for bureaucracy and shields it from competition. It provides a black hole for resources to be devoured. Things cannot possibly improve unless innovation is allowed to see the light of day.
Actually, in spite of my early sarcasm, I think this may not be the best solution. While I think government is generally a bad thing, and whenever somebody tries to do good via the government it ends of being perverted and twisted there may still be a role for government, but a very limited role.
- Break the supply bottle-neck on the number of doctors.
- Force everyone to buy at least catastrophic health insurance.
- Partial subsidies for the health care above.
- Get rid of the tax benefits for health care benefits paid by employers.
The first one should help with some of the supply side issues. Numbers two and three would help with adverse selection and moral hazard. The last one would end what works very much like a subsidy promoting higher consumption.
Would this solve all of the problems? No probably not, but it could certainly help with the current situtation. Even it slows the growth rate of health care expenditures it would be a good thing.